McDonald’s Corporation recently announced they would work with their suppliers to end the use of gestation stalls, also referred to as sow stalls.
Sow stalls are crates that are approximately 2 feet by 7 feet. Animal rights groups consider them inhumane and have worked toward a ban. In a statement made last week, McDonald’s said they would require their suppliers to make plans to phase out the use of sow stalls.
Speaking about the new effort, Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management, said:
“McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future. There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows. McDonald’s wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our supply chain. We are beginning an assessment with our U.S. suppliers to determine how to build on the work already underway to reach that goal. In May, after receiving our suppliers’ plans, we’ll share results from the assessment and our next steps.”
The statement from McDonald’s did not outline exactly when the sow stalls would stop being used. Only that they were requiring their suppliers to outline plans to phase them out.
According to Wikipedia, 60% to 70% of breeding sows are confined to crates while pregnant. Pregnancy lasts about four months. Inside the crates, pregnant sows are mostly immobilized and unable to turn around. Pork producers say the crates are needed because sows confined in pens together will fight. Sows spend three or four years in the crates, giving birth to between 5 to 8 litters, before being slaughtered. Some animal welfare groups consider sow crates one of the most inhumane policies of intensive animal production.
The use of sow stalls is currently banned in Florida, Arizona, and California. They are currently being phased out in Maine and Oregon.