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Cull Sows Identified as Next Hot Button Animal Welfare Issue

by 5m Editor
11 December 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1403. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Manitoba Pork Council


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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1403

A veterinarian with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives predicts the handling of cull sows will be the next high profile animal welfare issue to confront swine producers. Dr. Terry Whiting, with Manitoba's Veterinary Services Branch, told producers on hand yesterday for Alberta Pork's annual general meeting in Edmonton that they need to examine whether they're paying enough attention to managing cull sows.

He says, with pork prices having been depressed for the past three to five years, there's a temptation to pay less attention to those lower value animals.

"Animal rights groups, or anti-farming activists, always pick very specific limited things to talk about. They try to find hot buttons to push because that's just what works the best in alarmism. When ever a live animal's value decreases significantly it's at increased risk for poor animal welfare because of the value of the animal.

That's just a fact, that dealing with the low value animals in all our livestock production systems are our biggest challenge.

That's our low value cull dairy cow, our low value spent laying hen. They all have intrinsic characteristics, one of them being that they're not worth a lot of money, that puts them at increased risk.

We have to compensate that as livestock producers and say, 'No, we're going to pay attention to the vulnerable members of our animal population.'"

Dr. Whiting suggests producers need to commit to dealing with these animals as if they were the most valuable animals on the farm.

He says, while the cull issue has not yet been specifically identified, it's the kind of concern producers need to anticipate and address before it becomes a big risk issue for the industry.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor