Update May 7: Tim Horton’s has agreed to ensure pig gestation crates aren’t used at any of their suppliers. Congratulations!

On May 10th, Tim Hortons shareholders will gather in Toronto for the company’s annual meeting. On the agenda is a discussion about how the company allows its pork suppliers to confine pigs – day and night for nearly their entire lives – in gestation crates, cages so small the pigs can’t even turn around.

Major restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s have recently announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. But Tim Hortons, who used to be a strong advocate for animal welfare, continues allowing countless pigs to suffer by failing to meaningfully address this cruel practice.

Sign our urgent petition to Tim Hortons CEO Paul D. House demanding he put an end to the use of cruel gestation crates for bacon and pork products using the form on the right. If 10,000 of us sign, we’ll be able to deliver it during their shareholder meeting in 3 weeks.

Tim Hortons is as iconically Canadian as hockey or maple syrup, and most of us can remember eating timbits as a kid or rolling up the rim to win. For the company that brews 8 out of 10 coffee cups drunk by Canadians, Tim Hortons certainly doesn’t want their public image to be tarnished by the fact that they’re failing to address even the most basic animal welfare concerns.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals and can learn tricks faster than man’s best friend, yet they’re destined to suffer chronic stress, depression, cardiovascular problems, disease and infection in these inhumane crates.

Will you sign the petition now to Tim Hortons CEO Paul D. House telling him it’s time for Tim Horton’s to end its cruel crate policy once and for all?

Background Information

What is a gestation crate?

“Gestation crates” are metal stalls measuring approximately 0.7 m (2 ft) by 2m (7 ft)—barely larger than a sow. This crate is specifically designed to severely restrict a sow’s movement and thwart her natural behaviours. A breeding sow spends most of her reproductive life (normally 3-5 years) in such a gestation crate. She endures a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth (beginning at seven months of age) producing more than 20 piglets per year, 15 percent of whom will die by the age of 2-3 weeks. The piglets who survive are taken away from her and crowded into pens with metal bars and concrete floors, destined for the same life as their mother or the dinner plate. After about three litters, she is spent, deemed “no longer profitable” and sent to the slaughterhouse.

How do pigs suffer in gestation crates? 

The impacts of this intensive chronic are well documented, and include joint damage, leg weakness, decreased muscle mass, weakened bones, overgrown hooves, lameness, impaired mobility, obesity, abrasions, urinary tract infections, chronic stress, depression, frustration, aggression, abnormal neurotic behaviour, cardiovascular problems and diseases such as Salmonellosis, epidemic transmissible gastroenteritis, Bratislava and respiratory disease.

Pigs are fed massive doses of antibiotics to keep them alive in these conditions, but many pigs die from infection.

Undercover investigations show that pigs forced to live in gestation crates develop infected sores and abscesses, live in their own filth, and are abused at the hands of factory farm owners. Pigs bit at the bars of their crates and tried to push their crate doors up – demonstrating their deep frustration. Many pigs underwent abuse, and dead pigs were found in crates and pens.

Where are gestation crates banned?

Public awareness about the cruelty of gestation crates has led to numerous companies moving away from the practice — notably McDonald’s and Burger King. National governments have also began to ban the crates. The European Union and eight U.S. states – including California, Ohio and Michigan have bans. Despite progress, 70% of the U.S. pork industry still confines pigs to these crates, and 100 million pigs in the United States, and 1 million Canada are confined to gestation crates.

Further reading

REPORT: Undercover Exposés at Two of the Nation’s Largest Pork Producers, The Humane Society of the United States
Pigs Prove to Be Smart, If Not Vain, New York Times, November 9 2009.
Gestation crates in Canada, Humane Society International Canada, 2010.
Undercover at Smithfield’s Foods, an award-nominated short video on gestation crates.