Inhospitable. Dangerous. Inhumane. Abysmal. Uncomfortable. All of these are words used by the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States to describe a modern swine farm. I’m here to tell you that none of these words describe the truth.
“At just two to three weeks old, piglets are removed from their mothers and placed in large, windowless sheds without fresh air, sunlight or outdoor access. Their pens are too small and crowded for adequate movement and exercise. Ammonia fumes rise to dangerous, uncomfortable levels due to the pigs’ waste.” This excerpt is from an ASPCA article.
The above depiction is not the case of most pig farms in the United States. A lot of them have some sort of natural light, either through curtains or windows. Air flow from the outside is also required to make sure that ammonia fumes or anything else does not build up. In colder climates this is done by pulling air from attics. In warmer climates the air is pulled through cool cells (like radiators) to cool it down. This is a necessity to help keep the pigs comfortable.
Raising pigs indoors allows feed and water to be monitored and protects them from disease and predators. Pens are cleaned usually every day to keep the pigs clean and further prevent disease. As for the pens being overly crowded pigs are naturally social, so they enjoy being in a large group.
Most swine farms are extremely biosecure to further protect the pigs. Visitors have to shower in and out and any tools must be cleaned before entering the facility. Farmers truly care about their animals or they would not go to such extreme lengths to keep them safe and healthy.
ASPCA also goes on to say that pigs are castrated and have their tails docked with no painkillers. That is the truth, but the part they are leaving out is that both of these things are done within 10 days of birth, so the nerve endings have not fully developed.The tails are docked because when left alone, pigs will bite, chew and gnaw on each others tails causing pain and infections.
Here is a video that features an Ohio pig farm and shows you exactly what pigs at their farm go through every day. You may think they changed their behaviors and cleaned their facility for the video, but that is not the case. Stalls on most farms are cleaned every day and pigs are interacted with every single day.
If you google pig/swine farming, some disturbing things come up and reading/watching the horrible things online about pig farming is upsetting to a lot of people. But realize that those depictions are not #RealPigFarming. #RealPigFarming is a social group that unites pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members to discuss how modern pork production really works. Check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Remember if you ever have questions about how animals are raised or how crops are grown, be sure to ask a farmer!