Coles Extends Commitment to Pigs - and Hens

BREAKING NEWS: On November 18, Coles announced that they will cease to sell Coles brand cage eggs by 2013! This move reflects the growing community opposition to the cruelty of battery hen farming — which, despite being banned in several countries overseas, in Australia still legally confines millions of birds to cages in which they cannot even stretch their wings.

Following on from Coles' welcome decision in July to phase out pork from producers using sow stalls from its own brand, the retail giant has now further extended its commitment to helping to end one of the cruelest pig farming practices. From 2014, the extended ban will also apply to processed bacon and ham in the Coles range, in effect making the Coles brand sow stall free from that date.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of mother pigs are kept pregnant and confined in sow stalls across Australia. With a concrete floor and a space barely bigger than their bodies to live in for up to 16 weeks, these animals are unable to even turn around, let alone display any natural behaviour such as foraging or building a nest for their babies. The mental and physical impacts of this cruel treatment are severe and numerous.

After years of relentless public awareness campaigning by Animals Australia and colleague groups, this announcement by Coles is the latest in a series of significant decisions, such as Tasmania phasing out sow stalls, Australian Pork Limited agreeing to voluntarily pursue a phase out of stalls, and the largest piggery in Australia, Rivalea, independently committing to become 'sow stall free'. These developments have been largely brought about by pressure from informed consumers.

Animals Australia applauds Coles for taking another positive step toward ending their support of factory farming and is eager to hear similar commitments from the other major retailers. Please consider taking a moment to thank Coles for taking the lead to end the worst abuses inflicted on animals in Australian factory farms.

While every step toward ending factory farming is significant, there is still a long way to go. The Code of Practice for pig production, while still allowing the use of sow stalls, also advocates confining sows in farrowing crates, and condones routine mutilations of young piglets without the use of pain killers, such as teeth clipping and castration. Similarly, the Code of Practice for laying hens — even for those in free range systems — still permits baby birds to have the end of their beaks sliced off with a hot iron or infra red beam — causing acute pain that is likened to having the tips of your fingers cut off.

Whilst animals raised for food continue to be denied the same legal protection from acts of cruelty that we afford to cats and dogs, consumer choice will remain the key to ending factory farming — as demonstrated by Coles' response to customer feedback. However, improvements happen much too slowly for the millions of animals who are suffering inside sow stalls and battery cages as you read this. Fortunately, everyone can help animals right now by simply making informed, compassionate choices at the supermarket and continuing to help raise the awareness that is leading to positive changes for animals confined in factory farms.

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