Pigs in Crates

November 11, 2002

November 11, 2002

It's animal cruelty squeels the animal rights 1obby and with a battle cry. Florida voters passed a ballot initiative making it unconstitutional to us gestation crates to confine mother sows. The impact in Florida is minimal since there are only 2 pork producers in Florida using crates. But Florida is an easy place for the animal right crowd to start. Pick off a few states where pork producers don't have much at stake, then move on to other states and expand the initiatives to completely outlaw crates all together -- I think that's the plan.

Pragrenine pork producers have adopted new technology over the years and that has given us a dramatic increase in efficiency and pigs weaned per litter. When I was a boy if we could wean 6 or 7 pigs per litter, we were satisfied. We had guardrails in the hog houses -- no crates. We had pig brooders -- that is heat lamp over a protected area so the baby pigs could escape the risk of being laid on by the 500-pound mother. Of course I'm sure she wouldn't lay on babies purpose, but she is big -- real big. In the summer time we had baby pigs born in the woods with trees for shade and a creek for water. Seven pigs weaned per litter was a very good average then. We had to eventually move inside barns because the cayotes were eating our baby pigs. Then I built my own wooden farrowing crates using a plan provided by the University of IL, and they worked well. Our weaned litter average went up to 8. Today we use commercial metal farrowing crates and are weaning more than 9 pigs per litter. The mother sows are comfortable with food and water all the time and the babies are safer than ever before.

We should not be fooled by the animal rights claim of cruelty to animales; they really don't care about the baby pigs that could be laid on or those eaten by the cayotes. Their ultimate goal is to tum us into a nation of vegetarians.

Think about it.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.