Maple Leaf Foods builds new sow open house system

Animal welfare

US-based Maple Leaf Foods has announced it has converted more than half of its sow numbers to a more humane open house system.

Posted on Oct 11 ,15:41

Maple Leaf Foods builds new sow open house system

The company has converted over 40,000 of its sows to its open sow housing system, a system for which Maple Leaf needed 10 years to develop and considers it a "superior approach to husbandry and barn design that creates a benchmark for humane care of sows."

Maple Leaf plans to transition all of its sows under its management by the end of 2021 and become the first large-scale producer to achieve this milestone in North America.

The company's project involves the reconstruction of 31 barns at a total estimated cost of approximately $55 million. Through this new investment, Maple Leaf says it will position itself as the supplier of choice to retail and foodservice customers across North America, well ahead of their deadline to only sourcing pork from open housing systems by 2024. The company will also meet the requirements of the National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice.

Maple Leaf's advanced system, pregnant sows live 100% of the time in open pens, where they are free to move, feed and socialize with other animals.

"We have a bold vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth and our investments and actions to become a leader in animal care are critical to advancing our progress," said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods. "Our research and investment in an advanced open sow housing system is best in class in North America, leading to significantly better lives for the animals and, combined with our expertise in raising animals without antibiotics, provides a unique market advantage for Maple Leaf."

In addition to investments in open housing and the observation facility, Maple Leaf is also transitioning its trailer fleet to a new hydraulic floor lift transportation system that eliminates narrow steep ramps used to load animals onto the upper floors in conventional trailers, and significantly reduces stress and potential injuries.

Photo Source: Maple Leaf Foods

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