McDonald's to phase out gestation crates
February 15th, 2012
03:45 PM ET
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McDonald's said it will get its pork suppliers to phase out the use of immobilizing cages for pregnant pigs, a move that was applauded by the Humane Society of the United States, but not the pork industry.

"McDonald's believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future," said the fast food chain in a press release. "There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows."

Animal activists oppose the use of gestation stalls, which are cages that keep individual sows in close confines while they're pregnant.

"Confining pigs in gestation crates is arguably the cruelest practice in factory farming," said Josh Balk, spokesman for the Humane Society of the U.S. "These are iron maidens that are barely larger than the pigs' own bodies."

Read - McDonald's phasing out tiny cages for pigs

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Why do they have a photo of Hillary Clinton above this news article?

    February 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  2. nojustice

    I worked on a farm that housed swine in a large complex of pens. At first glance I could see why people may react about the conditions of the animals are kept. But as I worked there and interacted with the pigs, they showed no signs of distress about the conditions, I would pet them on the head or carefully pick up a baby as to not make it squeal and they all seemed pretty happy as far as I could tell. The pins were too small for them to turn around and the mother pigs pin had bars running across at a low level that prevented her from lying completely down, but she cold still lean on them and sleep. The only times I saw these pigs come out is when they bring in a male for mating and they had a larger pin for that. Another thing about these pigs is that they are huge!! The average pig was 600-700 pounds and the larger ones were 800-1100 pounds. As far as my experience working there I was glad they were individually penned and I believe they were too. My job did not deal directly with the pigs however, I was there to handle the waste side of farm. The pigs live on a slotted floor where the waste falls through and is flushed out using water into a series of holding lagoons. The water would sit, microbial digestion takes place, and solid matter would sink to the bottom. The water would be pumped to the next lagoon and the next until it is ready to be distributed onto the land by large sprinkler systems. This part is not very pretty either, it kills just about every thing on the land that can't handle that much nitrogen and corn is typically used to absorb the nitrogen. Just so you know this corn is not harvested for us to eat. What we should really be concerned about is the pollution that gets into our water from these industries. The typical holding lagoons are almost always near a creek or river and have to be built to standards that prevent overflow. These standards cover what we may call a 10 or 20 year storm, usually about 4" but they seem to have constant problems and this waste ends up where we do not want it. There have been massive fish kills after rains in my area and a swine farm may be suspect, but usually there are too many to pinpoint the one that caused the issue. The biggest threat to us is the antibiotics in the waste that gets into our water cannot be filtered out. What happens when you consume these antibiotics everyday in the drinking water, when you get sick the antibiotics will not work as well if at all, so especially in children and elderly people, they could end up being hospitalized or even die from a common cold or flu.

    February 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  3. Chelsey

    Okay, has anyone honestly explained the purpose of gestation crates to these tree huggers? Honestly, this is soooo frustrating!!! The main purpose is because momma sows are mean! And they don't give a rats hind end about there babies, so if there is no momma there are some dead piglets. So then we are going to have to come up with artificial pork. Exactly what HSUS wants, to change how we eat because this is the only CONSTITUTIONAL way they can get sow crates eliminated! Ridiculous! These tree huggers are ridiculous! Farmers know best, we have for millions of years, and honestly if its productive and the job is getting done right, leave it the HELL ALONE!!
    And I honestly love how a year ago Wayne Pacelle got his picture taken with a pig and he is wearing ostrich boots! That hypocrite needs to just go lay back down in his tanning bed.
    Nothing is wrong with the farmers of America!
    Screw getting rid of Micky D's lets get rid of HSUS, that sounds CONSTITUTIONAL!!!

    February 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Sows, like any animal, will not normally harm their young. That sort of behavior only occurs in the horrendous, overcrowded environment of a CAFO, where animals are raised so far removed from a normal setting that they are quite literally driven insane. Attacks on each other and even their own young are the result.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:42 am |
      • Anonymous

        I am pretty sure sows have no feelings for their young, and results of me living on a farm my whole life, the mother pig will lay on piglets on numerous occasions.

        February 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Sevinthseal

      hey Chelsea, I hate to pee in your corn flakes, but pigs have been around longer than gestation stalls. And eliminating them has about as much to do with the Constitution as the price of tea in China. McDonald's is trying to appease customers by demonstrating that they don't treat animals with unneccessary cruelty because America is free-market and they can do that if they choose. If you don't like it... as you neofascist Jesusfreaks like to say... you can leave.

      February 29, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  4. AW

    If they had asked the pork producers, they could add statistics on how much those crates reduce the baby pig mortality rate. A mature sow weighs in the neighborhood of 500 pounds while a newborn pig is around 2 or 3 pounds. The mama can't turn her head to see what's next to or under her, so if she's free to flop over on her side, she can accidentally crush or suffocate the babies. And sows are smart enough to know that. A sow who has used a crate once will tear through barn doors to get INTO it the next time she goes into labor. The Humane Society folks should go spend a few seasons on a farm and learn about what the sows want. They don't like giving birth in the open.

    February 16, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • AD@AW

      Interesting. I figured there was a reason for immobilizing them. Makes sense. Thanks for explaining it.

      Some animal rights groups are ridiculous for believing they know what's better for the animals than the people who have direct experience. For example, PETA is on a mission to buy up zoo-like parks and set all the animals free. They rush in without getting an education or any semblance of understanding as to why the animals are there in the first place. It's so much easier to become holier-than-thou with just a small fraction of the whole story.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Alisha

      My brother raised pigs while in Future Farmers. His pig house had planks ("shelves") all aroung the side about a foot off the floor so the piglets could run under when Mama started to lie down. It worked, Never lost a piglet.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  5. shawn l

    This is news? McDonalds has no pork products on their menu. The McRib occurs only a short time each year.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Chassidee

      Umm, McDonald's has bacon and appears on some of their sandwiches, salads and breakfast platters. Do you know what bacon is made from? Pork.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • CentralKyGal

      The sausage used in breakfast menu items (biscuits, platters, burritos, etc.) is also made from pork.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Chelsey

      They do in the morning menu.. I hardly ever go to Mcdonalds anymore because of the meat injections.... and I even know that(: lol

      February 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • nojustice

        When it comes to meat injections, did you know that most countries around the world will not allow our meat to be exported because of the way we raise our beef with steroids and such? We are the guinea pigs, so be a good little piggy and eat your injected meat.

        February 17, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  6. Porky Pig Jr

    I've never realized McDonald uses real meat from real animals.

    February 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  7. Dylan

    Great job CNN–no comment from the pork industry that is supposedly against this. Great job.

    February 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  8. Colin Morgan

    Now, if we could only phase out McDonalds we'd be good to go.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Dylan

      LOL yes, that would be grand

      February 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  9. javon

    stop doing that man

    February 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
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