The breeding and meat processing firm will cut the number of sow stalls in use on its farms to zero within the next eight years.
Pigs will have considerably more room to move around as a result. It helps de-stress animals, allowing them to express their natural behaviours, which animal activists claim is vital for welfare.
Xu Mingshu, president of Qinglian Food Company, said: “For many years we have trialled traditional farming methods, but now, under the guidance of World Animal Protection, we are pleased that allowing pigs the room to move and interact with other pigs will help our company become more sustainable in the long term.”
‘Future’ of pig welfare
International charity World Animal Protection advised Qinglian Food Company on how it could meet rising meat demand while adhering to high welfare standards.
The move comes as increasingly hostile animal welfare groups continue to target meat companies. It is unclear if Qinglian Food Company has been on the receiving end of this, but many meat industry representatives have spoken about the need to tackle anti-meat campaigning.
World Animal Protection has a unique take: instead of castigating industry, the charity works with some of the biggest meat companies, including BRF and Betagro, to implement welfare reform.
Raising around 700 million pigs per year, China is home to around half of the world’s pig population.
‘Hope’ others follow suit
Referring to Qinglian’s move, Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said: “This is a terrific opportunity to shape the future of the welfare of pigs in China. We congratulate Qinglian on this move and are keen to support and help them lead the way as they work to improve the welfare of pigs on their farms.”
Zhao Zhonghua, country director of World Animal Protection in China, added: “As our economy develops, Chinese consumers are caring more about food safety and sustainable agriculture. We hope that more companies in China will help to improve the welfare of animals, so there are healthier and happier animals, safer food for consumers and a transformation to modern farming.”
Industrial giant China has a mixed reputation when it comes to animal cruelty. It has taken steps to address this of late by developing its first-ever animal welfare law, still in draft form, and working with the RSPCA to introduce European-style welfare reform.