You need to be a well-known or notable food company that can satisfy the welfare criteria below, either as a current policy or on a five year commitment basis.
In most parts of the world, reproducing sows are confined in individual sow stalls for part or the whole of their pregnancy. The main issues affecting the welfare of reproducing sows kept in sow stalls during pregnancy include the restriction of movement and resting problems due to confinement and inadequate space allowance, and an inability to perform foraging and exploratory behaviour due to the lack of adequate manipulable material and bedding, leading to frustration and boredom and resulting in stereotypic behaviours such as bar biting.
There is a large body of evidence highlighting the welfare benefits associated with housing dry sows in groups from the time of weaning and up to one week prior to farrowing (please see Compassion’s scientific review). Also, a recent report by EFSA recommends that sows should be group housed immediately after the weaning of their piglets.
Since January 2013, group housing of breeding sows after the first four weeks of pregnancy is a legal requirement in the European Union, while sow stalls are banned entirely in the UK. The European Commission is also due to release by the end of 2023 a legislative proposal to end the use of all cages, including sow stalls, in the EU.
In other regions of the world, however, there is no legislation protecting the welfare of breeding sows and individual sow stalls are often used throughout pregnancy.
In addition, there is a concerning trend of multi-storey pig farms being built and used in various countries, most notably in China. Multi-storey farms typically present significant animal welfare and health concerns associated with the confinement of a very high number of animals in barren and overcrowded environments (please see Compassion’s position note).
The Sow Stall Free Award is designed to showcase companies that are leading the way in phasing out sow stalls in their supply chain and that do not source from multi-storey pig farms.
Sow Stall Free Award Criteria
We are asking companies to eliminate all sow stalls in their supply chain within 5 years, to be replaced by group housing throughout the dry period (from immediately after weaning and up to one week prior to farrowing, including the observation period).
Short duration confinement may be allowed for management purposes alone, e.g., feeding and carrying out artificial insemination. However, this must be restricted to 4 hours or less at any one time.
For a successful transition from sow stalls to group housing, where risks of aggression are well managed and sow welfare is optimized, we also strongly recommend a minimum space allowance of 3m2/sow and the provision of some solid flooring with adequate manipulable material and bedding.
Companies must not source pig meat from multi-storey farms. This applies to breeding sows and meat pigs in the category for which you are applying.
Companies are required to have a clear, time-bound and publicly available commitment to phase out sow stalls and to update us on their progress annually.
You must have a commitment to achieve the following within 5 years: No confinement (sow stalls) during the dry period (i.e. from weaning to 1 week prior to farrowing, with short occasional confinement allowed for management purposes, for a maximum of 4 hours at a time.)
You must have a current policy for: No sourcing from multi-storey pig farms
You can apply in one or more of the following categories:
- Fresh pork
- Fresh sausage
- Cured and cooked meats
- Further processed or ingredients
If you are a retailer, we will assume you are entering on the basis of your own-label pig meat in the above food categories, EXCLUDING any branded pig meat lines you sell.
Companies can apply via their engagement with the Food Business team and on completion of an application form signed at Director level.
Where an application is made on a commitment basis, Compassion will remain in contact with award winners over the commitment period, to assess progress made and provide continued support.
If you would like to find out more, please contact the Food Business Team.