How to choose a higher-welfare Christmas ham


If you are looking to buy a ham this Christmas, we’ve done the hard work to help you select a higher-welfare ham from Australia, where pigs’ conditions are better.

This year, now more than ever, it’s important to know where your pork is from, so you can support local farmers doing better by mother pigs.

Image credit: Thomas Alexander

For many Australians, ham remains a big part of their Christmas. However, some of the hams on Australian supermarket shelves come from countries that still keep mother pigs in sow stalls – cages – about the size of your average fridge.

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Christmas ham guide 2021.
Green pig
GREEN means the pork is from Australian farmers and likely to be higher welfare
Red pig.
RED means that there is no country-of-origin information on the product and the ham is likely from lower welfare countries

We’ve investigated the Christmas hams on supermarket shelves and given a green ranking to Australian hams, and a red ranking to hams which don’t have any country-of-origin information, which are likely to be from countries with lower welfare standards. They are also red, because not providing this information to you and your family is unacceptable.

If you’re planning to buy a ham this Christmas, use Your Responsible Ham Guide to make a better choice for pigs and your family.

This year, now more than ever, it’s important to know where your pork is from, so you can support local farmers doing better by mother pigs.

Why knowing where your Christmas ham comes from matters

In the US and Canada, most mother pigs are still kept in cages for their entire pregnancy. Cages that are so small the mother pigs don’t even have enough room to turn around. That’s 119 days of pain, distress and boredom. It’s cruel, and it must end.

European countries are better: the rules say they can only keep mother pigs in cages for 28 days, and in some countries not at all.

Thankfully, Australian pig farmers are getting mother pigs out of cages. In 2010, the industry decided to end the use of cages for all but five days, and that now applies to up to 90% of Australian mother pigs. This commitment puts Australia ahead of most other pig-producing countries.

Mother pigs in cages.

But there’s still more to do. Even in Australia, pigs could be treated better. We’re working to see an end to unnecessary mutilations, more enriched environments, and we ultimately want to get mother pigs out of confinement after birth.

Some retailers are doing the right thing and going beyond the inadequate labelling laws to give consumers more information. We applaud the efforts from both Coles and Woolworths which both have a full range of Australian hams this year. Disappointingly, Aldi and several of the other ham companies continue to use inadequate labelling on their hams that fail to identify the country of origin. Send a clear message to the pig industry and major supermarkets that pig welfare matters to you.

Plant-based options

If you’re looking for a kinder choice for animals this Christmas, add more tasty and nutritious plant protein meals. Adding more plant protein into your diet is good for your health, the environment, and animals around the world!

You don’t need a ham to celebrate Christmas.

Vegan lentil burger.

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