OAKVILLE, Ontario – Tim Hortons announced it will give “preferred sourcing” to pork suppliers that develop plans and timelines that phase out gestation stalls for sows.

The company also said it has set a goal of buying at least 10 percent (more than 10 million) of the restaurant chain’s eggs from enriched housing systems. The company said it would increase that number beyond 2013 as supplies become available.

"We're calling for an end to gestation stalls for sows and to significantly increase the use of alternative housing systems for hens,” said Paul House, president, chief executive officer and executive chairman, Tim Hortons Inc. “We believe there are better, more humane and sustainable housing systems that can improve the quality of animals' lives.

Striking a balanced, realistic solution for the farming community, which will need to make significant investments in new buildings, is also essential, and we fully recognize this will take time," he said.

Tim Hortons plans to pursue other animal-welfare initiatives in 2012. The company said it will commission scientific animal-welfare research with academic institutions on sustainable, humane animal housing systems. Also in the works is a North American-wide summit of restaurant companies interested in the humane treatment of animals in the restaurant industry supply chain, the company said.

"We hope and expect that our initiatives can help speed up the process by which farmers and producers will phase out gestation stalls for sows and move to alternative hen housing systems, so they can in turn meet industry and guest demand for such products," added House.

"The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies [CFHS] congratulates Tim Hortons on recognizing the importance of good animal welfare by calling on its suppliers to eliminate the use of gestation stalls," said Barbara Cartwright, CEO, CFHS. "The CFHS supports all efforts and commitments towards the sustainable implementation of carefully designed and managed alternatives to conventional confinement housing systems."