Canadian actor and director Ryan Gosling has teamed up with Farm Sanctuary and Humane Society International/Canada to improve the lives of more than one million breeding pigs on Canadian farms. In a new op-ed published in Canada’s Globe and Mail titled “A tiny cage is not a life,” actor Ryan Actor Ryan Gosling has called on Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council to improve the living conditions of female pigs.
“Currently, mother pigs are kept in these cages called “gestation crates” for four months while pregnant, moved to another cage to give birth, reimpregnated and put back into a gestation crate for the cycle to repeat. It adds up to years of immobilization and millions of smart, inquisitive animals relegated to iron maidens,” he writes.
Gestation crates are metal cages that tightly confine breeding pigs to the point where the animals cannot even turn around for nearly their entire lives. These cages are currently standard in pork production, but a new draft Code of Practice, released by NFACC on June 1, calls for a partial ban of their use. In its current form, however, the draft standard would allow breeding pigs to be immobilized in gestation crates for up to five weeks at a time every pregnancy cycle – adding up to nearly a third of their gestation period.
While Gosling is encouraged by the NFACC’s new regulations, he urged them to go further with their efforts. “As written, the draft still allows the pork industry to lock pigs in gestation crates for up to five weeks at a time,” he writes. “Over a pig’s short life, which is just four years long, this amounts to about nine months of solitary confinement in a cage so small she can’t even turn her own body around. Pigs in tiny crates suffer beyond anything most of us can easily imagine. They are unable even to turn around for weeks at a time, so that their muscles and bones deteriorate. And these extremely social and intelligent animals lose their minds from being denied any social or psychological stimulation at all.”
Gosling is an active animal right advocate, previously teaming up with PETA to fight cruelty to cows on dairy farms, specifically a painful process called “dehorning” in which calves have their horns gouged or burned out of their heads.
Canada’s new Code of Practice will take effect in 2014.
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