Working to Abolish Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals

March 12, 2013

Sow in gestation crate
HSVMA and The HSUS are working to end outdated animal housing and husbandry practices, such as the use of gestation crates.

One of the primary ways that HSVMA promotes the welfare of animals nationwide is through our legislative advocacy work—supporting animal-friendly bills and opposing animal-related legislation that appears to have been drafted without animals’ best interests in mind.

Perspectives are shifting and certain animal housing and husbandry practices used for many years in animal agriculture, such as extreme confinement and dairy cow tail-docking, have come to be considered inhumane and unnecessary. That shift in public opinion that has been backed by scientific research and review.

Extreme confinement methods include the penning of pregnant sows in gestation crates and young calves in veal crates. Both types of enclosures are so small that the crated animals cannot engage in many normal behaviors, and often they are even unable to turn around. Dr. Temple Grandin, a noted animal scientist and professor at Colorado State University, acknowledged that when it comes to gestation crates, "Basically, you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat." Dairy cow tail docking, the partial amputation of the tail, is typically done without anesthetic and causes serious welfare problems including pain, distress and increased fly attacks.

Legislators—and the public—look to veterinary professionals as experts and opinion shapers on issues of animal health and welfare. For this reason, veterinary support of, or opposition to, animal-related legislation carries significant weight and can be quite influential in getting bills passed and laws enacted.

HSVMA, with the help of our Leadership Council member, Dr. Gordon Stull of New Jersey, has garnered a great deal of veterinary support—including more than one hundred individual veterinarian endorsers—for NJ Assembly Bill 3250 which seeks to make New Jersey the 10th state to ban gestation crates. The bill passed the Senate (35 to 1) and the Assembly (60-5) with overwhelming majorities and is now awaiting signature by the governor.

In conjunction with The Humane Society of the United States, HSVMA is supporting anti-confinement legislation across the country, in Massachusetts (S. 741), New York (A. 1656), and Vermont (H 438). HSVMA is also working on legislation in Colorado (HB 1231) that would end the cruel and unnecessary practice of dairy cow tail-docking.

Engaging in legislative advocacy—via letter writing, phone calling, in-person lobbying, and/or offering expert testimony at bill hearings—is an excellent way for a veterinary professional to enhance the health and protect the welfare of large numbers of animals beyond the walls of your clinic.

If you are a resident of one of the states with a pending bill mentioned above, we encourage you to contact your state legislators and ask them—as a veterinary professional and a constituent—to support this important animal protection legislation. Look up your legislators' contact information»

If you are interested in becoming more involved in helping HSVMA in our legislative advocacy efforts to eliminate the use of inhumane and unnecessary methods of farm animal confinement and husbandry techniques, we would welcome your support. Please contact us at [email protected]