Beyond the Barn

Gestation stalls still common in the U.S.

Meanwhile, gestation stall use in the United States is still widespread according to a study conducted by University of Missouri economist Ron Plain. He surveyed 70 operations with 1,000 sows and over, representing 3.6 million of the nation’s 5.7 million sows, and found that sows in only 17.3 per cent of them spent part of their gestation in open pens. The rest of them were crated all of the time.

There are concerns about how the U.S. industry can manage a conversion to meet the expectations of customers, who have asked suppliers to assure that all of the pork they produce will be from non-gestation stall operations by 2017, barely five years away.

Europeans gear up for sow stall ban

The Brits are bragging that their urging on of other European Union countries to comply with a Jan. 1, 2013 ban on sow crates is apparently having some effect.

Earlier in the year, just three member states were in compliance and 12 others were unable to confirm that they could comply by January of next year. Now nine countries expect to have at least 93 per cent compliance by the end of the year. The ban has loomed for nearly a decade.

The United Kingdom outlawed gestation stalls in 1999 and the industry was reduced by 40 per cent, with many producers unable to compete with cheaper imports.

Young Brits think bacon comes from wheat

If you think young urbanites in Ontario don’t understand where their food comes from, take heart. It’s worse in Britain.

More than a third of those between 16 and 23 surveyed in Britain don’t know bacon comes from pigs. Eight per cent think bacon comes from wheat. Another two per cent think it is derived from corn.

The newspaper Independent Online says the survey was commissioned by Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), a British charity that promotes environmentally sustainable farming and education, usually of farmers. It also has its seal on products in stores. The polling firm OnePoll surveyed 2,000 British adults between May 11 and 14. According to the poll, three in 10 adults born in the 1990s hadn’t visited a farm in more than 10 years.

Bacon is hot, even hotter if you are a duck

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. At least that’s one way for pork producers to look at the rise of bacon substitutes all over the world.

Take Duck Bacon, for example. D’Artagnan, a gourmet food company based in Newark, N.J., charges US$12.99 for eight ounces of “uncured, smoked” and “nitrate and nitrite free” meat “except for that naturally occurring in celery powder” product. D’Artagnan brags that the ducks are “Moulard,” a cross between Pekin and Muscovy. The product is perfect for kosher and halal consumers. D’Artagnan guarantees next day delivery via FedEx.

But duck raisers aren’t the only folks jumping on the bacon bandwagon. There’s veal, turkey and even wild boar (although one wonders if that is kosher).

What’s in a (sausage’s) name?

Sausage consumption in Europe isn’t an issue. Sausage naming is.

NewEurope Online reports that the European Commission has received an application from Slovenia for official recognition and protected status for the “Krainer Wurst.” Other countries who might want to lay claim to the famous sausage or to dispute the Slovenian claim have six months to register their objections.

Pink slime beef crisis hits pork

The Lean Finely Textured Beef (dubbed ‘pink slime’) crisis is having an effect on pork prices, according to meat industry market experts.

Cheaper beef trimmings prices are also pulling down pork trimming prices, where the end products are smoked or spiced. That means products like pork sausages have a cheaper substitute ingredient.

According to the April 5 CME Group Daily Livestock Report, pork trim prices have fallen steadily since March. Pork trim in general has fallen to 54 cents a pound from 70 cents. Usually, pork trim value increases with the baseball season in the United States.

Wild pig ‘nonsense’ in Michigan

Michigan Pork Producers Association faces a tough task getting wild pigs, an invasive species, out of state hunt clubs. Not only is it up against some legislators, but it has also riled checkoff-paying small producers.

A press release issued by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund says: “For the factory pork breeders, this is about eliminating the competition. The Invasive Species Order ensures consumers will only have the choice of pork raised in confinement.”

The accusations are “utter nonsense and blatantly inaccurate,” says Michigan Pork’s executive vice president Sam Hines. Only Eurasian and Russian wild boars and their crosses were targeted by state department of natural resources officers, starting April 1.

Danger from foaming manure pits

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, foaming in swine manure pits “has become a serious safety concern” in the last few years. Foaming fills pits, reducing manure capacity but also trapping explosive methane gases. Farmers are urged to turn off pilot lights and maintain full ventilation during pumping. Fans should run even when pigs are removed.

Despite the thousands of pig barns with manure pits in the American Midwest, there have been only six reported explosions since the foam began appearing in 2009. But, though it doesn’t happen often, when it does it is a disaster.