By: Rick Berman
Newspaper: Des Moines Register

In the debate over the use of individual maternity pens for pregnant pigs, it’s important that we listen to the true experts: Veterinarians and farmers. Animal rights activists like Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States or the crowd at PETA represent animal rights ideology, not animal welfare science, in trying to ban maternity pens. (“The Pork Industry’s Advocate in the Crate Debate,” July 7).

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians has concluded that individual maternity pens are an acceptable way of housing pregnant sows. And the American Veterinary Medical Association finds that individual housing of pregnant sows provides for animal welfare. In fact, three recent studies have discovered that pigs in group housing situations have higher indications of stress than those in individual pens, generally due to the fact that pigs in group situations are exposed to biting and other forms of aggression from more dominant animals.

Animal welfare is a scientific measurement and any system has tradeoffs. Those decisions are best made by experts in the field. HSUS, PETA and other animal rights activists who don’t believe in eating pork or any animal products have their own agendas, one that places getting rid of animal agriculture above all else.