Is Humane, Sustainable Farming Possible on a Global Scale?

New techniques for breeding animals are emerging which scientists, farmers, and the public hope will provide the animals with more humane conditions. On the chopping block, so to speak, is the "gestation crate."

What's the Latest?


New techniques for breeding animals are emerging which scientists, farmers, and the public hope will provide the animals with more humane conditions. On the chopping block, so to speak, is the "gestation crate" which prevents sows from turning around in their cages because it is so narrow. Once an innovation in agricultural science, the crates are falling out of favor. Indeed Smithfield Foods – the largest pork producer in the world – and McDonald’s, have pledged to eliminate gestation stalls from their supply chains. For a time, food production is expected to dip while farmers find workarounds to the new system.

What's the Big Idea?

As world population is expected to hit nine billion by 2050, the demand for meat will continue to increase, putting more pressure on already strained resources, and testing our will to create livable conditions for our animals. A serious problem with open-air breeding facilities remains the animals' hierarchical instincts that often result in fighting, which in turn causes the animals pain and further reduces farming capacity. One particularly successful strategy has been to separate out passive familial lines and breed them, reducing instances of violence. Now that humans have become the sole providers for large numbers of animals, we should guarantee their safety.

Read more at BBC Future

Photo credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock

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