The AVMA Executive Board approved a recommendation from the Animal Welfare Committee to form a Task Force on the Housing of Pregnant Sows.
The task force will conduct a thorough and objective review of the scientific evidence relating to the impact of gestation stalls on the health and welfare of breeding sows. Once the review is completed, the task force will recommend an appropriate AVMA position on pregnant sow housing.
This initiative came about during the HOD session in Denver this past July. One of the resolutions that delegates considered was submitted by petition on behalf of Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection group. The resolution would have rescinded the position statement the AVMA adopted in 2002 on pregnant sow housing.
That 2002 statement says the AVMA "supports the use of sow housing configurations that: minimize aggression and competition between sows; protect sows from detrimental effects associated with environmental extremes, particularly temperature extremes; reduce exposure to hazards that result in injuries; provide every animal with daily access to appropriate food and water; and facilitate observation of individual sow appetite, respiratory rate, urination and defecation, and reproductive status by caretakers.
"Current scientific literature indicates that individual gestation stalls meet each of the aforementioned criteria, provided the appropriate level of stockmanship is administered."
After an impassioned debate, delegates in Denver voted down the resolution to rescind the AVMA position and, instead, directing the AVMA to conduct a thorough and objective review of the scientific evidence relating to the impacts on the health and welfare of breeding sows.
As to the makeup of the Task Force on the Housing of Pregnant Sows, the Executive Board will appoint its 11 members. They will be a swine veterinarian, swine producer, behaviorist, statistician, epidemiologist, a member of the Animal Welfare Committee, a member of the Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, an Executive Board member to serve as chair, a representative of a humane organization, and two research scientists.
In addition, an agricultural economist and an ethicist/animal welfare scientist will serve as consultants to the task force.
The task force will meet twice and attend the 2004 AVMA Animal Welfare Forum on Sow Housing and Welfare at a cost of $31,000.