McDonald’s has moved to support HSUS in their quest to do away with gestation crates. http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2012/02/mcdonalds-news.html
As a hog producer, I could tell you all of the scientific evidence. In gestation crates, sows’ feed and health can be more closely monitored. In gestation crates, “bully sows” don’t beat up on other sows. In gestation crates, “bully sows” don’t overeat, resulting in piglets too large to pass the sow’s pelvis. The question posed to the pork industry has not been “can you use gestation crates?” the question has been, “Should you?”
Science and measures of production efficiency aside, I’ll tell you this. As hog producers we don’t use gestation crates. I’ll also tell you this. We have a gilt who was a victim of bully sows so we had to move her to another pen away from other sows until her due date neared and we moved her to the farrowing barn. In our pens, we’re unable to control individual feed intake. She overate, as pigs will do. I’ll also tell you this. I spent 16 hours in our farrowing barn to try to deliver her piglets. I saved one. One. The others died and we had to administer antibiotics and hope that she would recuperate and continue milking for her one piglet. She’s since recovered but as soon as we wean her, the cycle will continue.
I won’t tell you that I’m an unfailing fan of gestation crates. I can’t because we’ve not used them. But I can tell you that if you want the scoop on hog production, ask a hog producer first.