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Woolworths takes South African sows out of stalls

Major South African retailer, Woolworths, has taken the ground-breaking step of only selling fresh pork produced without the use of sow stalls in which sows can’t turn round.

This announcement is a hugely welcome development and comes after years of hard work on this issue by Compassion in World Farming in South Africa.

Instead of tiny crates little bigger than the pregnant sows themselves, the expectant mother pigs will be kept in group housing where they will have the freedom to move around and socialise.

The move from Woolworths comes just three months after receiving Compassion’s Good Egg Award for its commitment to cage-free eggs in South Africa.

Compassion has long been campaigning against sow stalls in South Africa. Speaking from Cape Town, our South Africa director, Louise van der Merwe, says: “We are extremely pleased that Woolworths and their pig farmers are changing the way sows are treated. We hope that other producers will soon follow suit.”

Philip Lymbery, our CEO, says the news shows farm animal welfare is rising up the agenda in South Africa and that Woolworths should not to stop there, but to continue its journey towards higher welfare.

He says: “We are thrilled at this latest move by Woolworths, which will make a big difference to the lives of millions of sows and represents a huge step forward for farm animal welfare in South Africa”

“Woolworths has again proved its commitment to better welfare and we look forward to working with them on further steps to benefit the animals in their supply chain.”

Woolworths Managing Director of Foods, Zyda Rylands, says: “We would like to thank our supplier partners for joining us in giving sows a better quality of life. This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through our supplier partnerships and goes to show how together, we can lead change.”

Sow stalls or ‘gestation crates’ are extreme confinement systems banned in the UK in 1999 and in the EU (apart from the first four weeks of a sow’s pregnancy) since January 1 last year.

They are symbolic of the very worst elements of factory farming that keep animals caged, crammed and confined. Woolworths can be rightly proud of this important step forward for animal welfare.