Have you ever seen where the average pig raised for slaughter lives? For most, the answer is no. The reality of pig farming is purposefully hidden from you. You might envision happy animals roaming wide-open fields, living a natural life. The truth is far more unsettling. Come on a journey and find out what it takes to get a pig from “farm to fork.” You might rethink your next purchase of bacon.
Every year in the US, 120 million piglets are slaughtered. 75% of mother pigs spend their lives confined in a space so small they cannot turn around. Due to extreme confinement, many develop abnormal behaviors, including self-mutilation and bar-chewing. After 3-5 years of producing piglets who are sent to slaughter, the mother will also be sent to slaughter.
Within 72 hours, piglets have their tails docked, and ears “notched” without pain relief. Male piglets are also castrated without pain relief, at 4 days old or younger. At 2-3 weeks old, they are removed from their moms. In a natural environment, male piglets stay with their moms for 4-6 months, and female piglets stay with their moms for life. Because the mother pig continues to be forcibly bred, she will have to repeatedly endure the painful experience of having her babies removed from her. After the piglets are separated from their mothers, they live in barns with little room to move around.
Bred to grow quickly, piglets reach 250 pounds in 6 months. This excessive growth rate results in health problems, like early arthritis, broken legs, and injured backs. At 6-months-old they are sent to slaughter and are often transported long distances in all weather conditions. Pigs lack meaningful sweat glands, making travel in hot temperatures especially painful. In the United States, they can legally be transported up to 28 hours without food or water.
When they arrive at the slaughterhouse, they are shocked and prodded to the kill floor. Piglets are often “electrocuted” but may only be rendered unconscious before their throats are slit. Even pigs raised in “humane farms” are killed well before their natural life span. On a sanctuary, a pig may live 12-14 years. On a farm, they are treated as commodities, not individuals.
One impactful way to fight against this cruelty is to remove pigs from your diet. You have the power to create a kinder world through your daily food choices. Order Animal Place’s Try Vegan booklet, to learn more about the reality of farming, and what you can do to help.
-Claire Couron, Social Media Manager