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The life of pigs in piggeries

Pigs are playful social animals. Yet today they have been turned them into mere production units, with little regard to their welfare and basic needs. Gestation and farrowing crates used for mother sows, are amongst the most cruel practices of the factory farming industry.

Living conditions

At a young age, piglets are taken from their mothers and placed into large overcrowded concrete sheds. Unnatural flooring (hard concrete floors in pens and slats in gestation crates) and a lack of movement leads to obesity and leg disorders. Their joints swell severly causing crippling pain and lameness, leading to some pigs falling on the floor from being unable to walk.

Naturally, pigs are very clean animals. However in most piggeries, pigs are forced to lay in their own urine and faeces. The build-up of urine and faeces in pig pens and gestation crates, leads to various respiratory disorders, pneumonia and contagious diseases like swine flu in pigs.

Scientific evidence also suggests that the severe confinement causes psychological disorders in female pigs. Lack of stimulation & supression of natural instincts lead to psychological disorders like chronic stress, depression, aggression, bar biting and sham chewing (chewing nothing).

Body mutilations

Baby piglets are subjected to mutilations like tail docking and castration, without painkillers or veteniary care.

Tail Docking: Frustration causes some pigs to bite at each others tails. To prevent this, a piglets tail is cut off and the ends of their teeth are snipped off with pliers.

Castration: Male pigs are castrated, since consumers do not like the taste and smell of the meat of uncastrated male pigs. Often poorly performed castrations results in herniated intestines. In this situation, workers push the herniated intestine back inside the piglet and wrap that area with tape.

Gestation & farrowing crates

Gestation and farrowing crates are amongst the most cruel inventions of the modern factory farming industry.

A gestation crate has a width of 2 feet and is only slightly larger than a pigs body, making it impossible for a pig to lie down comfortably or even turn around. Mother pigs spend most of their lives surrounded by cold metal bars and are forced to lie in wet faeces-covered floors.

After giving birth, sows are moved to 'farrowing crates' – enclosures similar to gestation crates, with only a tiny additional concrete area on which the piglets can nurse. Farrowing crates that are meant to separate the mother from her piglets to avoid potential crushing, are so restrictive that a mother cannot even turn around to see her piglets. Piglets are fed from behind cold metal bars.

This intensive confinement, loneliness, and deprivation often causes mother pigs to go insane, which is manifested in repetitive behaviours such as neurotically chewing on their cage bars or obsessively pressing on their water bottles.

Gestation and farrowing crates are so barbaric, that they have been banned in 8 US states and in most parts of Europe. The usage of these crates in India is still limited, though is likely to rise in the future, as piggeries become increasingly industralised.

Transport

While naturally pigs live for an average of 10 -15 years, factory farmed pigs are a mere 6 months of age when they are sent for slaughter, while mother sows are slaughtered once their exhausted bodies can no longer give birth at a young age of 3-4 years.

In order to get pigs onto the trucks bound for the slaughterhouse, workers beat the terrified pigs on their sensitive noses, backs and genitals or stick electric prods into their rectums. Pigs are packed into overcrowded trucks with little space to move, where they undertake journeys of hundreds of kilometers to the slaughterhouse without access to food, water or veterinary care.

A number of pigs arrive at the slaughterhouse too exhausted to move. 'Downers' who are so sick or injured that they are unable to stand or walk on their own, are repeatedly kicked, stuck with electric prods and dragged to their slaughter.

Slaughter

In industrial slaughterhouses, the pig is supposed to be first 'stunned' which is typically done by electrical shocks. They are then hung upside down on conveyor style belts and tekan to another area where their throats are slit, and then onto the scalding tank.

To increase production rates, stunning is often done in a hurry. This leads to fully conscious pigs being left to hang upside down, kicking and struggling, while a slaughterhouse worker attempts to slice their throats. If the worker is unsuccessful at this first station, the pigs will be carried to the next station on the slaughterhouse assembly line, the scalding tank, and boiled alive fully conscious.

In manual slaughter operations, the pig first has its legs tied up, post which it is laid down and a knife is plunged into its heart. This is done in full view of other waiting pigs. A pig will often take many minutes to die, during which it remains in extreme agony.