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Sad Truth About Sow Stalls

by Doron Francis, CERES Food Connect

Sow Stalls, legal in Australia

Recently I was chatting to a bunch of seemingly well informed people about Food Inc the movie. One of the comments made was that the film was about industrial agricultural in the USA, so wasn’t ‘relevant’ to Australians. It’s interesting to see how very little we actually know about where our food comes from, how it’s produced and how we are willing to believe that it ‘couldn’t happen here’.  The truth is often obscured because it’s ugly and bad for business.

Take sow stalls for instance. Until 20 minutes ago I wasn’t familiar with the term, but reading that they are being phased-out in Tasmania brought it to my attention.  A quick search in Google returned 254,000 results and after reading a report by the RSPCA in Victoria and others, I can see that this is an extremely barbaric practice – essentially battery farming for pigs – that should be banned immediately (as it has been in the UK and soon the rest of Europe).

The point here is that sadly, as consumers we are intentionally kept in the dark.  Should we have the right to know how our food is being produced? Would it make a difference if we did? I think that if we were better informed it would make a huge difference in what we buy and what we feed our families. I expect that like myself, most people would be horrified to know that sow stalls are a perfectly legal and ‘normal’ practice here in Australia and if they did know the facts they would give more consideration to what meat they purchase (or at least make an informed choice one way or the other).

Happy pig doing what pigs like to do

I am no vegetarian, but it seems to me that if we are going to eat our animal friends then we should at least provide them with a natural, stress-free habitat, making sure they are healthy and well looked after.  As Joel Salatin points out in Food Inc. “A culture that just uses a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures in the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling type mentalities.”

Unfortunately, there are many problems with intensive meat production and animal welfare is just one of them (check out the environmental cost here).  However, we can make a difference by considering what we choose to buy and who from. Ask your butcher where they source their meat, how the animals were raised, always insist on organic, free range meat and be happy to wear the extra cost.

Further Reading:



  1. Bill of Permaculture takes care of an ancient breed, the Long Black pigs in Tasmania at their Sisters Creek Haven. They are his pride and joy.
    We have a few short clips about feeding Bill and Lisa pigs on chestnuts…. i need to work out how to upload them and put them somewhere on the site. They both, but in particular Lisa, talk to them, so the piggies are educated by now. They smile too (to Bills Jokes) They are also fed acorn that Bill is growing. They look very happy.

  2. Joel Salatin is returning to Australia in November & December for the RegenAG workshop series. For those looking for their ‘clean meat connection’ or want to roll up their sleeves and becoming food producers worthy of an ethical world, don’t miss his 2-day intensive workshops visiting TAS, VIC, ACT, NSW QLD & NZ.

    These workshops cover Joel’s entire regenerative farming operation. We’ve got to overturn these cruel and unwholesome industral farming practices, and Joel is a wonderful leader offering a practical positive pathway towards ethical and regenerative farming.

    During the upcoming workshops, Joel will take us through his entire family farm operation from the production of pastured poultry (eggs, broilers, turkeys), salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits & forestry products through to the relationship marketing approach his family business has developed that has made Polyface Farm the internationally recognised, and strictly local farm it is today.

    The RegenAG group is committed to overturning these terrible industrial farming by offering training that is practical and immediately useful in transitioning both large and small food producing operations towards a wholesome ethical future.

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