Millions of pigs in China set to have better lives, while support grows in Brazil and Chile

June 15 2017

Millions of pigs in China, Brazil and Chile are set to have better lives as we work to improve animal welfare practices across the globe following the launch of a new campaign and the signing of a landmark agreement.

The treatment of farm animals is the world’s biggest animal welfare issue – and it’s getting bigger.  More than 70 billion animals are farmed for food each year, two-thirds of them in conditions that mean they can’t move freely or live naturally.

China is home to over half of the world’s pig population, and demand for pork has meant many food suppliers are overlooking animal welfare in favor of low-cost meat – resulting in the suffering of millions of pigs every single day, with sows confined in crates or cages for most of their lives.

Last week in Beijing, we signed a landmark statement of intent with Da Bei Nong, one of China’s leading agricultural producers, and the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW).

Da Bei Nong, with our guidance and guidance from the ICCAW, will start a trial of higher animal welfare production for pigs this month and will scale this up from 2018 onwards. As the company embarks on ambitious expansion plans, the move is set to change the lives of millions of pigs with the introduction of group housing for sows and reduced stocking density for growing pigs, with all animals provided with effective enrichment and comfortable flooring

“We are committed to the promotion of animal welfare, and to the production of high quality and safe pork for our customers,” said Mr. Song Weiping, vice president of Da Bei Nong.

A pig on a free range pig farm in Brazil

The move by Da Bei Nong, which currently has 60,000 sows producing upwards of a million pigs, demonstrates a shift in China’s pig industry, as more companies and organizations recognize the importance of better animal welfare practices, and the positive impact these can have on production and sustainability for China.

“World Animal Protection is helping to develop high-welfare solutions for China’s pig industry, aiding the development of the industry, creating better environments for farm animals, and ultimately helping to achieve better harmony between animals and people,” said Xi Chunling, Chair of ICCAW.

In China, consumers are increasingly demanding higher welfare products. A 2016 survey by World Animal Protection found two thirds of Chinese people would be willing to pay more for higher welfare pork and 90% would be willing to change their purchasing habits, to move to pork products from pigs that have lived better lives.

On the other side of the world in Brazil and Chile, over 22,000 people have joined World Animal Protection’s campaign #ChangePigsLives, which was launched last month pushing governments to legislate for higher animal welfare standards for pig production.

A pig on a free range pig farm in Brazil

“Better animal welfare not only alleviates suffering, it leads to healthier animals, safer food for consumers, and sustainable profit growth for farmers and producers. It is a mutually beneficial choice for our pig industry,” said Zhao Zhonghua, China Country Director of World Animal Protection.

Brazil is the fourth largest pork producer in the world. While there has been recent progress by industry, over 42 million pigs continue to suffer with outdated and cruel practices in the country.

Most sows will spend their entire lives in individual crates – a practice banned in the European Union and several countries. These Brazil and Chile campaigns are calling for group housed gestation; environmental enrichment; an end to cruel mutilations on piglets, including the cutting of teeth, ears and tails with no anesthesia; and improvements on sheds’ density to avoid fights and spreading diseases.

Learn more about our work protecting animals in farming.

“Better animal welfare not only alleviates suffering, it leads to healthier animals, safer food for consumers and sustainable profit growth for farmers and producers. It is a mutually beneficial choice for our pig industry," Zhao Zhonghua Country Director of World Animal Protection China.

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