investigation reveals most pigs are crammed in disease-ridden, indoor
units where they live in their own filth. A cocktail of drugs keeps them
alive and forces fast growth. Please help us end the
I once had
idyllic childhood images of pigs - happy, content and wallowing in a mud
pool. When I recently saw what life is really like for pigs on
today's farms, I was left feeling physically sick for days. I suppose I
knew they lived on concrete, indoors in intensive factory farms. However,
I was not prepared for the intensity of their confinement, the awful
reality of their boredom, the noises their heads make hitting the doors to
their cages and the overwhelming smell they have to endure. It's been a
while since I saw those pigs, but thinking about it still upsets me
deeply. The females are left in what are called gestation crates, where
they are surrounded by metal bars and can barely move - they can't walk,
turn around or even lie down comfortably.
Pregnant sows are kept
in these prisons for most of their lives - four months at a time for the
duration of each pregnancy. Their only relief is occasionally being moved
to another metal-barred prison (where they give birth and feed their
young), or when they are waiting to be impregnated again.
In the gestation shed,
there was a constant clanging noise. It was the sows hitting their heads
against the doors of their cages as if trying to escape. After a while,
some would give up and lie down, while others again took up their futile
action. All I could think of when I left the place was that these poor
animals would remain there, probably for years to come, rotating between
the two types of prison, for the rest of their lives.
A sow gives birth in a
farrowing crate where she is again denied nearly all movement and is
forced to provide her piglets with milk 24 hours a day. I saw charts on
the wall that reduced her life to a series of statistics - the number of
piglets she had, how many lived, and how many died. I knew that when those
statistics showed a lowered production, the sow herself would be killed.
In a more natural environment, her adorable little piglets would endlessly
explore, play with one another and root in the ground. Here they could do
none of these things and slept on grated metal flooring. I also saw the
fattening pens where pigs are fattened up for slaughter. They are
essentially concrete cells, each holding about a dozen pigs. In one cell,
a pig had an ear missing. Another had a rupture the size of a grapefruit
protruding from his stomach. There was a dead pig, constantly nudged and
licked by his cell mates. The smell in these places is overwhelming. I had
the option of walking away and I still cannot imagine how these poor
animals - who have an acute sense of smell - can endure the stench. I know
what has happened elsewhere - pigs have asphyxiated because the
ventilation system failed.
What I saw was the obvious squalor and pain of intensive farming.
Sadly, there is other, less obvious suffering. In time, the legs of
breeding sows become weak, affecting their ability to give birth naturally
and to walk. On some farms, workers have been known to viciously beat
these weakened animals to get them to move from breeding areas to
slaughter. Sows are being pushed to their biological limits, and mortality
rates are increasing. Some herds have reported monthly mortality rates
Piglets can be
forcibly weaned starting at two weeks old - two months before they're
ready. Their tails are cut off to minimize tail-biting, which results from
the unnatural environment. Their needle sharp teeth are clipped to prevent
biting in such an intensive environment, and notches are cut in their ears
for identification purposes. All these procedures are done without
Death accompanies them
at every stage of their short, five or six month life. Up to 70 percent of
some herds may suffer from respiratory problems and a number of other
diseases. On the farms of one huge producer, 420,000 hogs a year died
prematurely. These losses are built into the economics of pig farming.
Animals may not even survive the transport to slaughter - dying from heat
stroke or freezing to death, depending on the time of year. In 1998,
nearly 277,000 pigs were dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse.
The story doesn't even
end here. Many pigs are inadequately stunned. Some are merely paralyzed
and can feel all that happens to them during slaughter. Pigs have even
been known to enter the scalding tank fully conscious and are essentially
Through all the misery
I witnessed on my investigation, I still saw a little of the pigs of my
childhood. Pigs whose ears flopped when they ran to me, hoping I had food;
pigs whose eyes seemed to reflect the misery of their lives; sows whose
intelligence shone through the hopelessness of their frustration. But what
will remain with me forever is the sound of desperate pigs banging their
heads against immovable doors and their constant and repeated biting at
the prison bars that held them captive. This, I now know, is a sign of
mental collapse. What has happened to the human race that it can close it
eyes to this suffering?
I also visited some of
the larger pig farms in North Carolina. There were thousands of pigs
housed in sheds. Many were dead or dying - one actually died right in
front of me. This was the same for the piglets being housed in what the
industry so frightfully terms a nursery! The dying and dead pigs were
still in the pens with the living pigs. A revealing insight on how this
industry views animals is offered by its treatment of the dead and dying.
They were tossed in the aisles: some barely alive, some rotting. Sick or
injured pigs who were still alive could not reach food or water and were
sure to die a painful death. There was a pig so thin he barely looked like
a pig at all. He too had some type of rupture protruding from his stomach;
in addition to this, his ribs were showing. He was in desperate need of
veterinary care, but apparently none was being provided - if he was being
monitored by anyone at all.
What can you
If you want to stop this cruelty don't eat pigs! Cutting out
the horror behind ham can be easier than you think. There are plenty of
fake sandwich meats and soy hot dogs.
Go vegan! Animals
raised for food live desolate lives of pain and misery.
With your help, we
will print many thousands of leaflets about pig farming in the U.S., with
a back page on why people should go veggie. The leaflet includes images
from our investigation and will be available to concerned consumers and
activists to help spread the message!
Contact Viva! for a free 'When
Pigs Cry Action' pack. It includes a postcard to send to a friend about
pigs on factory farms. Just as importantly, we want to take our message to
kids. Many need to know that it is okay to love animals and that they are
not alone. In addition to getting our leaflet in their hands, we want to
help them get tofu dogs in their school cafeterias. We will create the
Babe Brigade to get kids to think about their love of animals and show
them that they too can make a difference!
Viva! needs your
support. Please donate to our campaign to help stop the slaughter.
Together we can make a difference!
excited to see Viva! launch in the USA, following years of victories in
the UK. Since then, I have watched them have successes on their duck
campaign here. I look forward to their new campaign for the pigs and their
continued enthusiasm in reaching the public on behalf of all animals
killed for food." Sir Paul McCartney