CPF invited senior World Animal Protection (WAP) officials to one of its massive pig farms in Sa Kaeo, Thailand, with the company said to be seriously considering its approach to swine welfare.
WAP has already helped CPF rival Betagro implement a policy to phase out pig cages for 250,000 pigs in the next decade, and is working with Brazilian giant BRF on animal welfare too. Clearly, CPF wants a slice of the action as evidence suggests meat processors can profit by improving their animal welfare standards.
Jacqueline Mills, head of campaign farming at WAP, said CPF’s move was a “step in the right direction”, demonstrating the Asian heavyweight was “ready to show leadership on pig welfare”.
At the meeting in January, Mills met CPF’s senior vice-president of swine veterinary service, Damnoen Chaturavittawong and his staff. Here, they discussed how CPF could introduce WAP’s pig welfare framework. This outlines what constitutes unacceptable, acceptable and good pig welfare practice in indoor pig production. It also includes a description of production practices and welfare outcomes. No firm commitments were made during the meeting, which was more of a fact-finding mission for both parties, but progress was reported.
“We anticipate ongoing interaction and contribution as the company continues to develop its approach,” Mills told this site.
“We want CPF and other pig producers globally to make a public, time-bound commitment to phase out the practice of keeping sows in cages during pregnancy and, instead, introduce group sow housing with provision of comfortable flooring and manipulable materials to allow for the expression of natural behaviour.”
In 2017, CPF began to move new parent pig stock into group sow housing. WAP believes there is “scope” to ensure this includes the “provision of enrichment” — something welfare proponents say is crucial for pigs to live happily.
London-based not-for-profit WAP’s approach to improving on-farm welfare starts with group sow housing. But it hopes for more from CPF in the future.
“We’d welcome the opportunity to engage with CPF over time to improve welfare in other aspects of pig production, including farrowing and welfare issues associated with pigs raised for meat,” Mills added.
“We acknowledge there are some challenges in finding the right loose farrowing system, but Betagro is setting the bar high with its commitment to end farrowing crates by 2027.”
Could CPF follow its rival and implement world-leading pig welfare standards too? Time will tell.