Pork-centric restaurant system and sausage maker Bob Evans Farms Inc. has reported that, by 2025, it will require all suppliers "to source animals" from housing systems that provide animals with "ample opportunity for comfort and movement" and provide workplace safety.
This will be best achieved by transitioning its pork supply from production in which sows are housed in conventional gestation stalls to housing that provides the animals greater freedom of movement, the company said.
The company said it reached its decision in consultation with its own experts in sow housing and members of its own animal welfare committee, which includes outside experts in animal behavior and well-being. The company said it also held "extensive discussions" with farmers, industry trade groups, animal rights advocates and customers.
The company said it also considered academic research and scientific literature regarding the advantages and disadvantages of gestation stalls and group housing for pregnant sows.
The company said its "key learning" is the single-most critical factor in providing animal welfare is not the housing system but, rather, the animal husbandry of those who care for the sows. Nevertheless, the company said it's adopting its new position.
Bob Evans, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, operates 565 full-service restaurants under the Bob Evans name, mostly in the mid-Atlantic, midwestern and southeastern U.S. It also is a manufacturer of pork sausage and refrigerated side dishes.