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Prognosis for animal welfare in Africa is bleak – says new report....

Press Release by Compassion in World Farming (SA) 7 JULY 2015

Animal welfare is not a priority in Africa. If ever it does become a matter of concern, this is likely to take another two decades at least.


This is the view of the International Egg Commission in a just-released report on housing systems for laying hens around the world.


Authored by Professor Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst, an intensive agriculture expert in Germany, the report is being widely circulated by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA).  


According to the report, the prognosis for laying hens in African is bleak with battery cages here to stay for at least another one or two decades..


It predicts that in almost all developing countries “a change to alternative housing systems will not happen within the next one or two decades”. This will be due, in part, “to the lack of know-how of egg farmers to use alternative systems” such as barn, aviary, enriched cages and free range.


The report adds: “It remains to be seen whether the animal welfare discussion which was the main driving force behind the changes in housing systems (for laying hens) in the EU - and which is gaining in importance in Australia, New Zealand and Anglo America -  will spread to Japan and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” The report then refers to the “economic advantages” of battery cages and adds: “In most developing and threshold countries the animal welfare discussion has not even started.”


Under the heading ‘Synopsis’, the report concludes that “the attitude regarding the handling of livestock and poultry differs considerably between countries. The ethics of animal treatment and animal welfare which have developed in Europe or the USA over the past decades cannot simply be transferred to other parts of the world with a completely different cultural background and philosophical system of ethics.”




Louise van der Merwe, director of Compassion in World Farming (SA) comments: “How condescending! The report borders on racism, suggesting that people in Africa do not have the depth of consciousness to tackle animal welfare issues. In fact, the report disgusts me and reminds me of the deeply held conviction of Khayelitsha health worker Gwen Dumo who said: ‘It is an insult to assume that because we are poor we have no heart.’ (See Gwen’s comments in the August 1997 issue of Animal Voice attached)


“We allow a miniscule 450sq cms of space to our battery hens – all 25 million of them. How did this ever become ‘normal’!?  Compassion in World Farming (SA) urges Africa to reclaim its dignity and show the International Egg Commission and the South African Poultry Association that ethics and standards are as powerful in the minds of people from Africa as in any ‘developed’ nation! Tell them: Africa wants a ban on cruel battery cages.”

World Food Day - An appeal by Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa


We need to realise that we have been captured by the lure of consumerism to believe our happiness and success depends on what we eat, wear, own and use.

We are trapped in the logic of consumerism which emphasises what we lack downplaying what we already have.

We are reminded daily of our unfulfilled needs, thus placing consumerism at the heart of culture. The over consumption of animal-derived products – meat, eggs, milk and so on – is part of this culture of consumerism and places an enormous burden on human health, as well as on the lives of animals which are crammed into factory farms in order to supply our demands, especially for cheap meat.


Farmed animals eat grass and bushes by nature – food that we, as humans, cannot eat - and 67% of land in South Africa is available and suitable for grazing and browsing.


Yet we take the animals off the land and cram them in large numbers into huge sheds, feeding them vast amounts of fish and grains in order to make more meat, more eggs, and more milk, cheaply.  The meat, eggs and milk from these animals is directed towards the Consumer Culture which then, in turn, struggles with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, while  the oceans become depleted of fish and rural farmers lose their livelihoods because they are unable to compete with cheap supermarket products. As for the animals, they live and die without ever seeing a blade of grass or a ray of sunshine.


The church has a moral and theological responsibility to set aside this stupidity and embrace its role of stewardship of our beautiful earth and all its creation. We need our congregations to become eco-congregations transforming culture to promote a healthy diet for all, sustainable livelihoods for rural farmers, as well as the well-being of the land and all its creatures. Only in this way can we ensure sustainability and establish justice for all."


Bishop Siwa is the presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and President of the South African Council of Churches.


Compassion in World Farming's CEO Philip Lymbery met Bishop Siwa in his office in Johannesburg earlier this month. Here he gives the bishop a complimentary copy of his book 'Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat'.

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa appeals for a change of heart and mind -

"a transformation of society at the level of culture itself".


Please see Bishop Siwa's statement below:


"I am writing this appeal as one of the followers of Jesus Christ who said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I write as the faith leader on the eve of the World Food Day (16 October) and out of deep concern for the ecological crisis that threatens to bring us and the whole of creation to the brink of mass suffering and destruction. My appeal is that we pay special attention to this and request all people of faith to pause, reflect and act as stewards of all that God has created.  


This crisis is human-induced, caused among other things by industrialised agriculture which depends on monocultures, pesticides and factory farming of animals, as well as our prevailing culture of consumerism. The challenge to overcome this crisis lies in the human heart. Combating Climate Change requires nothing less than a radical change of direction, a change of heart and mind, a transformation of our society at the level of culture itself.



Woolworths becomes First Major South African Retailer to introduce Sow-Friendly Pork Products

Press Release - 24 July 2014

Woolworths has announced that from the end of September, all fresh pork sold at Woolworths will be sourced from farms that no longer use sow stalls to restrain pregnant sows. The introduction of sow-friendly pork is a first for South African retailers and represents another milestone on our Good Business Journey.


This is the first phase of an initiative that will see all Woolworths South African pork products produced in a way that is much more humane and kinder for the sows by the end of this year.


This move represents a major departure from standard practice in South Africa, where sows are kept in restrictive stalls for the entire16-week pregnancy period. Sow stalls allow the pregnant sows to stand up and lie down, but not to turn around. Now Woolworths supplier farms will keep pregnant sows in group housing where they will have the freedom to move around and socialise.


Customers will begin seeing “Kinder to Sows” stickers on fresh pork at Woolworths from the end of September 2014. From the end of December 2014, all Woolworths branded fresh processed and cured pork products, such as bacon, boerewors and sausages, will follow the same farming practices as fresh.


We also aim to achieve this for all other local pork products such as cooked hams, deli meats, pizzas, sandwiches and pies by the end of July 2015.

Imported Woolworths branded pork products will comply with EU or UK legislation.


“We would like to thank our supplier partners for joining us in giving sows a better quality of life,” says Woolworths Managing Director of Foods, Zyda Rylands. “This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through our supplier partnerships and goes to show how together, we can lead change.”


Adds Rylands, “Along with our customers, we have wanted to address this issue of humane treatment of animals for a number of years. I am sure that they will be happy to know that they will soon be able to buy more humanely produced pork at Woolies.”


Compassion in World Farming has welcomed the Woolworths announcement. “We are extremely pleased that Woolworths and their pig farmers are changing the way sows are treated. We hope that other producers will soon follow suit,” says the organisation’s spokesperson, Louise van der Merwe.





What is a sow stall?

Sow stalls, sometimes referred to as gestation crates, are cages in which individual sows are confined in intensive pig production. The stalls are extremely restrictive and do not allow for free and natural movement of the sow. The sow can only stand up and lie down, but is unable to turn around. It is only the sows that are kept in the stalls, not the pigs that we eat. This change means that when you buy Woolworths pork it will be from pigs born to sows that do not spend their entire pregnancy in a tiny sow stall.


Woolworths has moved from confining the sow for the full pregnancy of 16 weeks down to a couple of days when, for ease of handling, the sow is required to be in a sow stall for insemination until pregnancy is confirmed.


Does this mean Woolworths pork farmers will no longer be using weaning crates (sometimes known as farrowing crates)?

No, this change in our farming policy only applies to sow stalls.  We are on journey so the removal of sow stalls is the first step as they make the greatest impact on the sows’ quality of life.


What are weaning crates?

Weaning crates are similar to sow stalls but are bigger in that they allow the sow to lie on her side so that the piglets can suckle. On Woolworths supplying farms the sow will be moved to the Weaning Crate a day or two before giving birth to her litter. She will remain there until the piglets are weaned at 21 to 28 days.


Why are weaning crates necessary?

Weaning crates allow the farmer easy access to and control of the sow during the birth of her litter and during the weaning phase. The industry believes that the crates prevent the sow from lying on her piglets.


Why not expand our free range pork products?

Woolworths has been trying to expand our free range pork offering over the years but sourcing ‘true free range’ pork that is available all year round and is competitively priced has been very challenging.  Consequently we have rather focused on tackling some of the practices used in intensive farming and improving the lives of over a hundred thousand sows across the country. We will continue to source viable free range options that meet our free range standards.  


Woolworths Good Business Journey

Our Good Business Journey is our sustainability programme, which is a comprehensive plan to make a difference in six priority areas: sustainable farming, protecting water supplies, reducing energy use, improving the management of waste, making a significant contribution to social development and supporting transformation initiatives. These are all challenges facing, not only South Africa, but the world at large.


As part of our commitment to sustainable farming, we’re partnering with suppliers to find ways to produce products that cause minimum harm to the environment and improve farming practices, including the humane treatment of animals in our supply chain.


Call for the setting up of an international court to judge government culpability regarding cruelty

and atrocities to animals

30 December 2013

"There should be an international court to try cases of animal cruelty, says Oxford ethicist"

“Humanitarian organizations worldwide should collaborate in setting up an international court to judge cases of animal cruelty and specifically to assess the culpability of governments”, says Oxford ethicist Professor Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.  READ FULL PRESS RELEASE

Dear Animal Friend,


In a mind-blowing step forward for animals, the Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Professor Andrew Linzey called today for the setting up of an international court where governments may be assessed for their role in the continued perpetration of animal cruelties around the world.


In making the call, which forms part of the introduction to The Global Guide to Animal Protection published today, Prof. Linzey said: “Individuals and groups should be able to bring cases before the court where governments have failed to take reasonable steps to prevent systematic and widespread occurrence of cruelty to animals.”


Wow! To read the full press release


Kind regards,



Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu calls on the world to fight injustice and discrimination against animals

Press Release - 24 July 2014

Dear Animal Friend,

Anti-Apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called for the world to fight injustice to animals in the same way as it fights injustice to blacks, women and homosexuals.


In a Press Release by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics on 28 December 2013, Archbishop Tutu was quoted as saying: “I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights. “But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.


“I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty goes unchallenged.” He added: “Churches should lead the way by making clear that all cruelty – to other animals as well as human beings – is an affront to civilized living and a sin before God.”


Bring it on Arch! You’re the man!

Best regards,



Farm Animal NGO asks Consumer Commissioner for labelling to identify 'unconscionable and offensive' methods of animal production

The leading NGO for farmed animal welfare in South Africa has requested Acting Consumer Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed to give urgent attention to the labelling of animal derived products so that consumers can be fore-warned that the method of production may be “unconscionable” in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.


Compassion in World Farming (SA) has taken the opportunity to readdress this issue with the National Consumer Commission (NCC), following the instruction this month by Minister of Trade and Industries, Dr Rob Davies, that the NCC urgently investigate the incorrect labelling of meat products.


Minister Davies said the incorrect labelling of meat products had been a source of “alarm and panic” for consumers since the discovery recently by researchers at Stellenbosch University, that donkey, goat and water buffalo were being passed off as beef in South African burgers and sausages.





Said Compassion’s Louise van der Merwe: “Just as importantly, the labels need to reflect how the animals who provide the products are or were kept. Labelling should reflect every aspect of the production line from farm to fork.”


She said Compassion’s repeated appeals to food retailers to become involved in the phasing-out of cruel methods of animal production, were consistently fobbed off with the excuse that they (the retailers) simply supply what consumers demand. “How utterly ridiculous this reply is, considering that consumers are so totally uninformed on the issues,” said Van der Merwe. “Not only are consumers not allowed onto farms so never get to see the gross cruelties of industrialised farming, but in addition, packaging often implies, with cute pictures and misleading words like ‘farm fresh’, that the animals actually led lives worth living.


“It is scandalous that an NGO like ourselves is  ‘encouraged’ by food retailers ‘to keep up the good work’ while they continue to profiteer from the sale of unconscionably cruel products and, in addition, insult consumers by assuming that they don’t care how their food is raised as long as it’s cheap. How patronising. How paternalistic!”


Van der Merwe said that the NCC was mandated to bring about a nation of informed, educated, responsible and ethical consumers. As an example of what we are looking for, she said, European law required that battery cage eggs be labelled “eggs from caged hens”.

Compassion also drew Mr Ebrahim’s attention to the fact that Compassion and its supporters submitted a Class Action complaint to the NCC regarding cruel production methods, on 21 February 2011. Subsequently, Compassion met with then Commissioner Mohlala and also complied with her request for further information. Yet, Compassion had yet to receive a reply from the NCC. Compassion’s Class Action complaint alleged that in terms of Section 4 of the Consumer


Protection Act, the production methods of certain animal-derived products were “unconscionable and unethical or improper to a degree that shocks our conscience and offends us, as reasonable people.”


Please see Animal-voice-april-2011 for further details of Compassion’s Class Action complaint to the NCC.


What will happen IF we stop factory farming?

Well, billions of animals will benefit from the end of the confinement, overcrowding, excessive growth rates and overwork that characterise intensive farming. And millions of hungry or malnourished people could benefit too.

That’s why Compassion in World Farming has joined ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ – a powerful and diverse group of 80 organisations working together to combat hunger. We will only end factory farming if we can secure the widest possible support. And we are a part of IF because ending factory farming goes hand in hand with ending the global hunger crisis.


Even when the planet produces enough food for everyone, not everyone has enough food.

Some policy makers argue that the intensification of livestock farming is the answer to the food crisis; that we need to cram animals together in the pursuit of ‘efficiency’. But this will only deepen the hunger crisis and create havoc for people, the planet and animals.


Animals that are kept confined rather than allowed to graze and forage on the land need to be fed large quantities of grain. This means that there is less for people to eat and what’s left is often more expensive. We're literally taking high-quality, nutrient-rich foods that people could eat and feeding them to our farm animals.

We need to grow food for people, not intensively farmed animals – humane-sustainable farming, not factory farming, is key to ending the hunger crisis.


Why IF, why now?

This June, the UK hosts the leaders of the world’s richest nations at the G8 Summit. And a hunger summit will take place just before the main event. At this critical moment the world will be watching. This is a major opportunity that the IF campaign aims to seize: we must urge world leaders to tackle the food crisis in the right way.

So, today we’re asking you to take one simple action: check out the IF launch video and pass it on to as many people as you can. Urge them to watch the video and let them know that ending factory farming is key to ending the hunger crisis.

IF lots of us take this one small action, and IF that inspires others to do the same, ours can be the generation to end hunger.


Thank you,

Jonty Whittleton
Raw Campaigns Manager




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