Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find a selection of 'plain talking' answers to the most common questions people ask about how animals are farmed and what the sometimes confusing agricultural terminology means in relation to animal welfare, animal production and labelling issues. To ask a question and have it published on this page, email us.


What is Sow Stall free?
Sow Stalls or Crates are used to confine individual sows in intensive pig production. These stalls are very restrictive and do not allow free and natural movement by the sow.  All she can do is stand up or lie down.  She cannot turn around.  Sow Stall Free means that sows will not be kept in these stalls, instead the animals will be group housed in sheds. Sow Stall Free is a term being promoted heavily by Coles supermarkets and we have had many queries asking just what this term means, so many in fact that we have dedicated a special page to the answers.  read more....

Humane Choice farms do not use sow stalls

What is a Sow?  learn more ....

Why do pig farmers use sow stalls?

Sow stalls are demonstrated in this video

Humane Choice farms do not use farrowing crates

What does Bred Free Range mean?
Bred free range or Outdoor bred means that the sows (mother pigs) live and give birth outside however, the piglets that will eventually produce pork for your table are housed indoors and are not given access to the outdoors and are not free range.

Humane Choice pigs are born and live their entire lives outdoors

Are antibiotics used in Australian pork production?
Yes, antibiotics are used extensively in the pork industry, both as a preventative for disease and to stimulate faster growth of the pigs.

Are hormones used in Australian pork production?
Yes. Reporcin is a hormone used in the Australian pork industry. It is administered daily for 30 days during the 'finisher' stage or the latter stage of production before slaughter.  There is no withholding period for this hormone meaning that there is no waiting time between the last injection and processing of the pig for humane consumption.

Are growth promoters used in the Australian Pork industry?
Yes, some of which are used extensively. Apart from antibiotics and Reporcin mentioned above, the most popular growth promoter in the Australian Pork industry is Ractopomine, marketed as Paylean. This drug promotes rapid growth of muscle in the late stages of growth while minimizing fat in the carcass. Paylean is banned in over 160 countries including China.
Read more ....

Humane Choice farms do not use any growth promoters, hormones, or unnecessary antibiotics.

What are Farrowing Crates?

This video gives a good explanation of why and how farrowing crates are used
(no disturbing footage)

A fun look at sow stall free!

Sows naturally build amazing nests.  Here is a quick demonstration

Do pigs kept outdoors get sunburned?
They can, but ultimately it depends on the management of the pigs and their environment.  If pigs are not given sufficient shade and shelter and not supplied with wallows they will suffer from exposure to the sun.

Pig naturally wallow in water and mud to not only cool themselves, but to cover their skin with a protective coating of dirt - natures sunscreen.

Pigs also graze very early in the morning and in the cool of the evening and rest in the shade during the heat of the day.  Any disruption to this natural timetable will put them at risk of heat and sun exposure.

Pigs do need to be gently exposed to the outdoors and those born outside have very little trouble with sunburn if they are raised in a good environment and their needs are met.  Outdoor pigs have tougher skin and much more hair than pigs raised inside.  A pig that has never been exposed to the sun would suffer greatly if suddenly introduced to the outdoors as their skin is soft, almost pure white and has very little covering of hair.  Pigs raised indoors have never been taught by their mothers to wallow either and this will be detrimental in a free range environment.

Are all pig farms inspected?
No, there is no mandatory inspection of Australian pig farms unless they are part of an accreditation program or quality assurance scheme such as Humane Choice.

Eggs & Poultry

What does Cage Free eggs mean?
Caged egg production is very common and means that the hens are confined in cages in a group with other birds.  They are given a floor area of the size of an A4 piece of paper on which to live and are unable to do all those things that come naturally to hens such as scratching, perching, dust bathing, wing flapping and foraging.  Cage Free means that the hens will not be confined in tiny cages. 

Humane Choice farms do not use cages

What does Barn Raised eggs mean?
Barn raised means that the hens are kept inside large shed.  They do not have any access to the outdoors and indoor stocking rates can be as high as 15 birds per sq metre.

Humane Choice farms are not barn raised systems

How can I tell if the eggs I buy are really free range?
This can be very difficult as the larger supermarkets generally only support the very large egg producers and this means that the eggs on sale may not meet your expectations for free range.  Buy your eggs at farmers markets or  independent outlets that can give you more information about how the eggs were produced. 

Humane Choice farms are true free range raised on pasture - Why Pasture Raised

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