A push for more humane pig farming

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- At the Simply Grazin' Farm in Sillman, New Jersey, the pigs eat, play and socialize on green pastures.

Mark Faille raises 450 hogs there under humane conditions. He says his pork is more expensive but tastier.

"Give them the best life they can have, the best food they can have, and the respect they deserve. And, in return, they give us food," he says.

One thing you will not find there are the gestation crates used at industrial farms to house breeding females. Many sows spend most of their lives in concrete stalls with no space to move.

The practice has raised enough concern that companies, including McDonald's, Oscar Mayer, and Target have have pledged to eliminate the crates from their supply chains over the next eight years.

As people learn more about conditions on factory farms, demand for humanely raised pork is on the rise. Whole Foods has strict requirements for animal welfare.

"We've certainly seen an increase in demand for locally raised natural pork products so much so that sometimes it's hard to keep it on shelves," says Michael Sinatra.

The pork industry says it's not clear if or how the big farms will change their practices. For now, most of the six million sows remain in crates while Faille's lounge in the sun.

Industrial pig farmers say they need the crates to keep the sows from fighting, but Faille says his free roaming sows are fat and happy.

He believes his methods could be scaled for much bigger farms and thinks consumer demand will bring the price of humane port in line with conventional pork.


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