Beyond the Barn

U.S. sow gestation stalls under attack

The pressure to end the use of dry sow stalls is growing south of the border, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the vise. In early February, the Austin Daily Herald in Minnesota reported that Jeff Ettinge, chief executive of Hormel Foods, announced at its annual general meeting plans to end use of sow gestation crates on its Arizona farms by next year and in Colorado and Wyoming by 2017. Ettinge was responding to a question from a member of the HSUS, which is a shareholder.

Pakistan capital inundated with wild boars

Islamabad, the capital city of predominately Muslim Pakistan, where pork consumption is banned, is being invaded by wild pigs. Associated Press says packs of the “hairy beasts” that live in river beds, parks and scrubland go to the streets and rifle through overflowing rubbish bins left by restaurants and a largely wealthy resident population.

As many as 800,000 wild pigs are thought to live in the city, which was built on scrubland in 1951. A Pakistani policeman was injured in February when a boar rushed through police station gates that were opened to allow a car through.  

City authorities allow hunting only by shotgun, to avoid crossfire hurting passersby. But that is dangerous because short range is required and the boar may be only wounded.

Harper creates a hot pork dish in Beijing

Business at the well-known Yi Wan Ju restaurant in Beijing is up 20 per cent after widespread coverage of a visit there by Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a trade mission.

According to The Globe and Mail, management went so far as to name a dish after the prime minister, taking advantage of what locals would have considered a culinary faux pas. The dish, dubbed either “Harper’s Elbows” or “Harper’s Knuckles” depending upon the translation, consists of braised pork and a hot mustard sauce. On his February visit, Harper did something that Chinese never do; he dipped his pork in the jiwmo mustard and cabbage side dish before eating.

McGuinty loves pork

Nobody can say that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is afraid to serve up pork.

Pork producers will remember that in the midst of the H1N1 crisis in May 2009, McGuinty, Minister of Agriculture Leona Dombrowsky and Ontario pork chair Wilma Jeffray served up pulled pork sandwiches for folks at Queen’s Park.

Ohio producers object to prison pork ban

While a Michigan company sold pork to prisons in Ohio, that state’s pork producers and processors were upset when pork was banned from being served to prisoners.

The ban came into place after two Muslim death row prisoners sued federal wardens for not offering halal food options when kosher foods were offered to Jewish prisoners. California, Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts already quit serving pork, according to Ohio is the eighth largest pork-producing state, with 3,700 farms producing four million hogs a year.

An Associated Press story says the prisoners’ lawsuit isn’t really about serving pork, so much as it is about serving meals produced using handling requirements, which are different again from kosher requirements.

More pork needed from less

Raising pigs in a confinement barn? It’s the way to go, says a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and more such livestock operations are necessary in the future, given that a growing world population will require two-thirds more animal protein production by the year 2050.

Smithfield reiterates group housing vow

Smithfield Foods has reiterated that it will group house all of its sows by 2017, following a complaint by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the producer/packer “has falsely conveyed that Smithfield has higher animal welfare and environmental standards that it actually does.” HSUS said “misleading claims” are “in violation of federal security laws.”

The HSUS takes issue with videos Smithfield posted online about its Murphy Brown production unit and HSUS claims that Smithfield says it provides its sows with “ideal living conditions” even though most are confined to gestation crates.