Wal-Mart Harms Animals, Ignores Science

By Bruce Friedrich

There is a battle going on between animal protection advocates and the pork industry over “gestation crates,” the 2-foot by 7-foot cages that confine about 80 percent of the United States’ 5.5 million breeding pigs. In these crates, pregnant pigs are unable to engage in most of their most important natural behaviors. They’re never able to turn around or even lie down comfortably, day and night, for their entire lives.

Honey, escaped life in a gestation crate during the flooding of the Mississippi River in 2008. She now lives at our New York Shelter.

Over the past decade, nine states have banned the crates — most recently, Rhode Island, after lobbying by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the ASPCA, and Farm Sanctuary. Building on our legislative success, HSUS has convinced a long list of corporate behemoths to phase out the systems, from Smithfield Foods, Oscar Mayer, and Hormel to Costco and Burger King.

When a practice is so cruel that Smithfield Foods agrees it has to go, you have to wonder who might be foolish enough to defend it. In fact, our campaign has been so successful that a former stalwart defender of crates, agricultural scientist Ted Friend from Texas A&M, has called on pork producers to stop their “kicking and screaming” and to recognize that a crate phase-out is simply “another inevitable change.”

Wal-Mart: Ignores the Science and Defends Cruelty to Animals.
Mercy for Animals documented their investigation into a Wal-Mart supplier. The following video shows in graphic detail just how bad these crates really are. Please watch.

I’ve attempted several times, without success, to secure a response from Wal-Mart concerning their continued use of gestation crates in their supply chain. In an online response to the allegations of abuse, the company calls crate use “a complicated issue” with tenable arguments “on both sides.” This statement simply isn’t true, and it ignores the findings of scientific studies on the effects of gestation crate confinement on pigs.

Julia was pregnant when she rescued from a life of confinement in a gestation crate, and cruel abuse, in a factory farm in New York. She now lives at our New York Shelter with her children.

The Scientific Consensus
The science is not in dispute: immobilization of pigs in crates is highly damaging for them, both mentally and physically.

There are a host of physical problems that result from crate confinement, each of which represents extreme suffering for pigs. First, the animals’ muscles and bones waste away so severely from lack of use that walking becomes excruciating; even standing up can be painful. Second, because the animals rub against the bars of their crates and lie in their own excrement all day and night, they suffer painful ammonia burns on their skin, and their lungs become raw from breathing putrid air. Third, the animals are in a constant state of starvation because they are fed about half of what they would normally consume. Fourth, due to lack of exercise and decreased water consumption, many sows suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are associated with a high mortality rate. For source information on each of these issues, check out this scientific report from the Humane Society of the United States.

The situation is no better in terms of the animals’ mental health: Pigs have cognitive and emotional capacities beyond those of dogs, and, in some areas, they outperform even chimpanzees. So it’s no surprise that they suffer mental and emotional anguish when they’re unable to move for most of their lives. Meat industry consultant Dr. Temple Grandin states unequivocally what the science proves — that animals need companionship every bit as much as humans do; they love to play, they experience joy, and more. Every one of these natural desires is impossible to experience when they are confined in tiny crates. The relentless stress and frustration routinely leads to mental instability in these animals, who chew maniacally on the bars in frustration causing their mouths to bleed from cuts and sores.

Nikki also had been confined in a gestation crate when she was pregnant. Like Honey, she escaped during floods and gave birth on a levee. She was rescued and now lives at our New York Shelter with her children.

At Farm Sanctuary, we spend our lives with farm animals, and we wouldn’t eat them regardless of their treatment prior to slaughter. There is no moral or rational difference between consuming a dog or a pig, a cat or a chicken.

But we also work to eliminate the worst abuses of farm animals, and it’s hard to imagine anything worse than gestation crates; immobilizing animals for their entire lives qualifies, without a touch of hyperbole, as torture.

Please take action now to pressure Wal-Mart to stop its support for cruelty to animals.


26 thoughts on “Wal-Mart Harms Animals, Ignores Science

  1. Signed, and emailing friends. Please post this at Care2, and via Causes on Facebook! We need this petition out there more. Thank you so much though. Your work means the world to me.

  2. Please, please stop this barbaric practice. This is so cruel and so unnecessary.

  3. How could you, I’m sharing this video to everyone and they wont buy from your dumb store anymore and trust me your store will be closed down and im going on a strike with more than 500 people from different states so i would stop this right now!!!

  4. Wal-Mart doesn’t seem to care about its workers or anything except profit. Why would a store that sells assault rifles care about pigs? I will continue NOT shopping there.

  5. I shop my conscience. If you sell animals that have been raised in factory farms, I don’t buy. That includes dairy products from hens and cows raised in factory farms.

  6. How can we help in order to inform more people about this…..I will never shop there again. EVER.

  7. please stop buying pigs from farms who treat them so cruelly .. we are starting a campaign to have all our friends stop shopping at Walmart.
    We are emailing 100’s of people to let them know that all you care about is profit for your company. No compassion for anything else. We will spread this message far and wide.

  8. We absolutely are responsible for making sure we give animals the respect due them. If they are raised for human consumption, they deserve a life of kindness no matter how short their life. When people torture animals, they are the lowest life form on this earth. And big companies like Walmart have to be responsible and show compassion. Otherwise, people like us will judge them and we have a choice. That choice will be to stop walking into a Walmart.

  9. Gestation crates are cruel and archaic. Please join the other companies who have stopped using them. Just one more reason that I don’t shop at Wal-Mart.

  10. My heart goes out to all the animals. Such cruelty is so unnecessary. If people would just stop eating meat the animals could live in peace. Humans are so hurtful and disrespectful to animals. Poor cows chickens and pigs. Also, saw a video on what happens to geese with down industry. I will never support these industries. People should be ashamed of themselves on how they treat another living species. It’s a sin against nature.

  11. I will boycott walmart,this is so inhumane and unnatural,farm animals need their natural free range environment and the psycho farm workers should be fired for the abuse of these animals,the abuse is not a normal part of farming!

  12. It is about time that this nonsense stop, WalMart abuse animals, Walmart also abuse their workers… Walmart is an abuser, we need to boycott Walmart, no matter where,
    I am going to post that video, I will spread the abuse of Walmart… everyone needs to do that, they need to be stopped

  13. Walmart has the money but no care for the welfare of humans or people, just the bottom line. Not to mention they drive most local businesses out of town….they suck.

  14. I will never shop at WalMart, the most irresponsible, repressive and heinously cruel corporation in the world! Unfortunately, Americans are stupid and support those that are cheap and sleezy to save a buck even though WalMart tortures their employees and Chinese children working in factories producing WalMart’s cheap junk! It pains me to think that pigs and people are vctimized by this sleezy behemoth!

  15. Wallmart is the worst company in the US. When will we stop shopping there? We have to shut them down.

  16. Wal-Mart’s cruelty to pigs is just another reason why I NEVER shop there. Not only does the company discriminate against women and pay workers a wage they can’t live on, the company practices outdated and barbaric torture on innocent pigs. Shame on you Wal-Mart.