HSUS sow stall effort “absolutely not justifiable”

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The Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) validation of sow gestation stalls as not being humane and not sustainable is “absolutely not justifiable,” said Janeen Salek-Johnson, associate professor of animal well-being, University of Illinois. The comments were made in an interview Tuesday with Mike Adams, host of AgriTalk.

According to Johnson, HSUS’ efforts to eliminate sow gestation stalls are not based on science.

Johnson admits that today’s sow might “need a little bit more space than we give her,” however many producers have already given the animals more space and are raising the sows in a “well state of being.”

"The information HSUS is going around and bullying these companies to make changes is not based on current science,” Johnson says. “Based on science and my understanding of animal well-being, the information (HSUS) is conveying to get producers to change, is not truth.”

“It is unethical to ask some producers to make the change to group housing systems,” she adds. “I know from multiple measures of animal well-being that producers are raising their animals in a well state of being.”

In addition, Johnson believes that the demand by food retailers that pork suppliers change their housing method is unethical. “The demands are not based on sound science.”

On a personal note, Johnson said she has boycotted food retailers that have demanded pork producers eliminate gestation stalls.



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amy    
illinois  |  September, 26, 2012 at 08:37 AM

Thank you for an informative and revealing article. It is about time that the public realize that HSUS is NOT what they appear to be. They are masters of deception - and that's all.

Glen    
Iowa  |  September, 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Finally the truth , our sows in pens have bullies in each pen . A bully can only is stopped by placing this sow in a stall, then another bully steps up in the group to dominate this has a solution it is called gestation stalls. If we place 2 or 3 bullies together most times one or more will be injured in a fight sometimes one will die these are the resins stalls are much better . Maybe we should learn from Michel Vicks Fighting pens that stalls are better than pens for aggressive animals. WE need to stop HNUS's bullying and help keep food cost reasonable .

penny    
moultrie, ga  |  September, 26, 2012 at 09:09 AM

While it is good to have professsionals/academics stating facts about swine production welfare practices, it is "preaching to the choir". The message has to be relayed to the public and the grocery chains/restaurants/suppliers who are giving in to HSUS. Many packers are already having their growers phase out gestation stalls to a point where sows are only stalled a % of gestation time. I don't believe most consumers know or care about gestation stalls. Their main concern is price at the grocery store or restaurant. The industry needs to inform the public of 1)HSUS's goal of no animal agriculture, 2)HSUS's misleading advertising and fund raising, 3)increased cost of food as swine industry has to meet these demands. What is NPPC and NPB doing to educate the public?

Benita    
NC  |  September, 26, 2012 at 09:10 AM

We have been in the hog business for more than 40 years. We began farrowing in the woods and have worked up to a 650 sow farrow to finish operation. We saw first hand what problems a producer has with sows on the ground, then in open pen gestation, and, finally to gestation-stall housed sows. The latter is by far the best we, as humane producers, can offer these animals. They are content, well fed, and healthy. They produce an abundance of pigs that live and grow to help feed the masses. If we are mandated by anyone to go back to "open pen gestation" we have decided to go out of business. That is NOT what we want to do, but, the economic picture of open pen gestation would put us out of business anyway. I sincerely hope and pray that the likes of HSUS will not be the cause of the downfall of an entity that currently helps to feed a lot of people world-wide. Wake up America! These people are not what they want you to believe they are!!

anonymous    
September, 26, 2012 at 09:31 AM

Dr. Salak-Johnson is one scientist coming down heavily on one side of the argument. There are plenty of other scientists (in fact I would say the majority of welfare scientists) who view the same evidence quite differently. Taking the body of literature as a whole, there is clear evidence that group housing systems can be equal, better or worse than stalls. Management is the key. A well managed group housing system will have the majority of sows in a better state of welfare than well-managed gestation stalls. On top of this is the ethical argument and there is no getting away from the fact that this is an important factor for the public, not just the HSUS. The public does not like close confinement irrespective of the management reasons for housing a sow this way. The industry needs to realize that the gestation stall's days as an acceptable housing system are numbered. It is an unwinnable argument and repeating 'scientific evidence' ad nauseum will not change this. We need to be focusing our research effort on making group housing better and easier to manage, and equipping our workforce to make the change.

doug williams    
usa  |  September, 26, 2012 at 10:23 AM

The "public' had no idea what kind of housing sows were kept in until HSUS decided to "create a crisis".. first hens.. then pigs.. what will be next? whatever they think will interrupt our supply of protein to people and whatever they can take to the "public' in order to rake in more funds. If every producers turned to open housing TOMORROW HSUS would find another "crisis" to bring to the public.. that is what they do..that is how they exsist

mark    
il  |  September, 26, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Laws need to be passes for misleading ads.

    
September, 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Aggression is high in stalls too. In fact unresolved aggression - the worst kind - is much much higher in stalls. You don't see the scratches, but the welfare of these sows that can't sort out the hierarchy is poor.

anonymous    
missouri  |  September, 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Ive said for years if you thing the hsus was interested in how you treat your cat or dog your nuts this was there agenda from the beginning there PETA wish a mask

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  September, 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Y'all still ranting about the evil HSUS empire? Saying the same thing over and over thinking it will matter? You've been trying on this ugly dress for like three years now. No one is looking. Or listening. You wasted so much time hunting vegans that you didn't notice that the world is changing.

Dan    
September, 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Agree wholeheartedly with this, well said. The industry has to get past the "leave us alone because we know what's best" mentality.

Andy    
Indiana  |  September, 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Terry, Dan, I would say you are right. This ship has sailed. As someone said earlier, science won't win this argument. Give it up.

Mark    
IL  |  September, 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Ok you say gestation crates are out, Are you willing to say sow fighting is out ? Every group housing I've been in has group fighting. Sows end up dead. Must we go back 40 years when they used pix handles to even the score for the boss sows ? Because that is where you will be taking all of us.

Mark    
IL.  |  September, 26, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Well Said, I'm going to stock up on pix handles. They tell me hedge is the best.

Wm. Rannells DVM    
Ohio  |  September, 26, 2012 at 12:37 PM

The issue raises question as to whether we attack the issue with common sense or attack those bullies that are trying to change an industry that is far smarter than the bully. When you put common sense into the equasion, the issue becomes one of responsibility rather than overall industry needs. Responsible operators will house and handle animals as they have been trained and know how to handle the bully sow or the ones being bullied. Perhaps the industry should bully HSUS a bit more to show them how it feels. The consumer needs to know the truth and HSUS cannot handle that part. What went wrong was the negative reports that represent a few and not the whole industry. Take the media to task for reporting falsehood, not the industry that operates with knowledge and integrity.

Wanda Patsche    
Minnesota  |  September, 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Thank you! We need to keep this message out there. We as hog farmers know the message HSUS is giving is not right. It's unbelievable the food retailers are taking this action without research on how this will affect their suppliers. Bottom line - SCIENCE based decisions.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  September, 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM

We wouldn't expect anything less of you Mark. The HSUS exists because of folks like you.

craig    
minnesota  |  September, 26, 2012 at 02:12 PM

If you are going to make statements about group housing being better than stalls you need to back up your assertions, simply saying "there is clear evidence that group housing systems can be equal, better or worse than stalls" or "A well managed group housing system will have the majority of sows in a better state of welfare than well-managed gestation stalls" This is YOUR opinion, based on your statements it is obvious you don't know anything about hog farming. Your statements reveal your ignorance.

Farmer Goes to Market    
Kansas City  |  September, 26, 2012 at 02:18 PM

Penny, NPPC and others are helping with outreach programs to reach grocers with the truth, like this: http://nebraska.farmergoestomarket.com/index.php/recent-stories/13-technology/69-translating-food-technology-why-would-pig-farmers-insist-on-using-gestation-crates http://nebraska.farmergoestomarket.com/index.php/recent-stories/16-politics/12-politics-june2011 http://smithsfgtm.powweb.com/iowa/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18:politics-aug011&catid=7:politics-features&Itemid=3 http://missouri.farmergoestomarket.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68:politics-nov-2010&catid=38:politics-features&Itemid=28 We have a long way to go to defeat HSUS, but we are making progress where it matters: At the meatcase. I hope you'll encourage your state association to participate.

elvbend    
IL  |  September, 26, 2012 at 05:14 PM

Terry, have you ever stepped foot on a farm, for real?

amy    
IL  |  September, 26, 2012 at 05:21 PM

I would venture to stay Ms. Ward has never been on a farm, never had to deal with animals real and up-close. Animals are not little people. They do NOT have the morals that people do. Animals fight. There is no reasoning with them. It's instinct. Bully sows are bullies because they want whatever they can get. Luckily humans have the gray matter (well, most of them do) to resolve their issues without violence (well, most of them). Animals have hard little lemon brains with very little gray matter. As stewards of animals, it is up to the humans to protect them. Not force human morals on them. They don't understand.

Terry Ward    
Pa  |  September, 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM

Animals are not little people.??? Wow, Amy, thanks for that...good to know. Bet that clears up a LOT of confusion.

Terry Ward    
Pa  |  September, 26, 2012 at 07:06 PM

elvbend, have you ever stepped a foot off a farm?

elvbend    
IL  |  September, 27, 2012 at 07:51 AM

Unfortunately for those of us who actually do care about the welfare (yes, welfare - NOT rights), the world is full of Terry Wards who simply don't understand animal husbandry and who feel the need to lash out and belittle anyone who disagrees with them. This is what the HSUS relies on. Their supporters are unable to look beyond any particular issue and see the unintended consequences of feel-good measures. The agricultural industry needs to stand up to these bullying tactics. Terry says we did not see that the world was changing. Perhaps it is. There are so many people who have never seen a cow or a hog or a horse. Just pictures. No clue as to what it takes to produce food. And the vegans who believe that the world could be sustained on a vegan diet...not enough land in the world to make that happen. HSUS needs to be taken to task and open communication to the public is what is needed. It's too bad that HSUS feels the need to make an example out of the few bad apples rather than emphasize the good that the agricultural community does for the world.

    
USA  |  September, 27, 2012 at 09:36 AM

Craig, I have been involved in swine farming for 40 years and have experience of the whole range of sow housing systems. I have a PhD in swine welfare. I do know what I am talking about. It is clear that you have no idea what the concept of welfare involves. We are talking more than pigs/sow/year. There have been 3 major scientific reviews written, 2 of which I would give credence to, the 3rd of which is less credible and which struggled to get published anywhere notable. Of the 2, one concludes groups to be better than stalls and tethers. The other concludes no real difference. Within the reviews, the literature is split like I said. Some say no difference, some say groups better, some say stalls better. However, even with all the science, it is not all about science. It is more ethics or even aesthetics. You will not convince the public that gestation stalls, battery cages or veal crates are acceptable, scientifically or otherwise. This is what the industry has to realize.

amy    
IL  |  September, 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Quote: "However, even with all the science, it is not all about science. It is more ethics or even aesthetics. You will not convince the public that gestation stalls, battery cages or veal crates are acceptable, scientifically or otherwise. This is what the industry has to realize." While this may be true, the public also needs to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to farming operations. The public also needs to understand that the price of pork will rise drastically if farmers are forced to re-engineer their operations. Aesthetics should never be more important than safety. And as for ethical, some solutions may be ethical to some and not to others. Cruelty is never acceptable, but many things that are truly not "cruel" may be so perceived by someone who has never been on a farm (or even seen one other than outside a car window).

craig    
minnesota  |  September, 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I was replying to "anonymous | 102704936" so my comment about your lack of knowledge and experience is moot. If you made those statements, your post statements in reply to mine this morning don't match. Look at them; "there is clear evidence that group housing systems can be equal, better or worse than stalls" "A well managed group housing system will have the majority of sows in a better state of welfare than well-managed gestation stalls" How do you get from those statements to; There have been 3 major scientific reviews written, 2 of which I would give credence to, the 3rd of which is less credible and which struggled to get published anywhere notable. Of the 2, one concludes groups to be better than stalls and tethers. The other concludes no real difference. Within the reviews, the literature is split like I said. Some say no difference The claims in the two statements are radically different. So if you made both of those your 40 years of experience and the PHd are not serving you well. However If you didn't make both of them we have a simple misunderstanding, and I apologize if I offended you.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  September, 28, 2012 at 05:22 PM

Well said!

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  September, 28, 2012 at 05:33 PM

NPPC is WASTING YOUR MONEY, political capital and social license to operate by continuing the fight for gestation stalls. The fight was lost at least a year ago. it is time to accept that fact, analyze the loss and use lessons learned to gear up for the next fight. We have to get to the public first with the message. And EVERY pork producer will have to be willing to commit lots of time and money to putting that message forward. If we dont, we just as well give up now and ask HSUS what we can do to appease. Ages ago, some general said that "the way you win a battle is to get there firstus with the mostus." That is what we have to do? We don't have the money nor the PR organization and expertise to be defensive and wait on HSUS to strike. And that may mean a shake up in the board and staff at NPPC.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  September, 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM

You get it. Well said!

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  September, 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM

Amy, you have missed an important point of producing and selling pork. It doesn't matter how right or ethical your are. What matters is whether people will buy your product. For bad or worse, HSUS has managed to create the business climate where-in processors, wholesalers and purveyors, including restaurants and grocery stores are not going to buy pork produced by pigs born to mothers held in g-stalls. You can be right and go broke. Or you can be adapt to what someone else has established to be right and maybe stay in business. But when all the dust settles, it is not at all likely that you are going to have sows in g-stalls.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  September, 28, 2012 at 05:50 PM

Dr. Salek-Johnson is about 5 years too late with her remarks. Where was she when this fight was winnable?

michael    
kansas  |  September, 30, 2012 at 06:29 PM

This battle has been lost, but the war isn't over kids. HSUS & PETA & the rest of the vegan & Animals-are-people-too fringe freaks like Terry Ward and the gutless Anonymous are pursuing nothing less than Total Annihilation of Livestock Production in the West. (They're still too cowardly, PC and weak to approach or even speak of Muslims & Asians) Time to prepare for the next attack using the same deceits and propaganda campaigns aimed at the grossly ignorant and childishly sentimental consumers. Hopefully our industry representatives and the scientists, professionals and ag university staff will wake-up, grow a spine and take some serious action to defend us from the skilled Alinskyites in these tiny radical, but well-funded, extremist groups.


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