Betagro claims to be one of Thailand’s biggest meat processors and last month said it would phase out gestation and farrowing crates across its farms by 2027. This will improve welfare for 250,000 pigs.
World Animal Protection helped support this project. It is also supporting Brazilian meat giant BRF and three medium-sized Chinese pig producers implement top welfare standards. And according to the charity’s Australia-based technical manager Kate Blaszak, the work going on in parts of the developed world could put more established players under pressure.
Race to the top
“I think some of the work in the emerging markets can put the developed markets to shame,” she told this site. “There is stuff that can happen in Thailand and China that could be better than the US.”
When asked if Betagro’s decision would put pressure on bigger firms to follow suit, Blaszak said: “When a Thai company commits to phasing out farrowing crates, which is more than most companies in Europe have done, it does [put pressure on others].”
Blaszak said she hoped the decision to implement crate-free systems for sows would have positive repercussions.
“Betagro is one of the top pig producers globally [and] its decision will hopefully start to trigger a race to the top in terms of positive competition.”
Working with Brazilian giant
The way World Animal Protection works is by offering guidance and solutions to pork and poultry firms that want to improve animal welfare standards.
“Many of these solutions are a win-win,” Blaszak added. “You can get equivalent or sometimes even better production in non-confinement systems and there are a whole load of benefits with enrichment, not only natural behaviour but in terms of meat quality – increasing intermuscular fat, juiciness and flavour, for example."
In China, World Animal Protection is helping Da Bei Nong introduce enriched group sow housing and welfare improvements including comfortable flooring and better space for growing pigs.
The charity is also helping meat giant BRF scale up its implementation of group sow housing and make welfare improvements for over nine millions pigs by ending teeth clipping and rolling out immunocastration.