Pigs' long road to freedom

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 12 November 2010

This documentary produced by Animal Equality (Spain) is a timely reminder of the myriad cruelties endured by pigs in factory farms worldwide.

Whilst this footage comes from Spain, the shocking practices documented in video — including farrowing crates, painful surgical procedures, and the callous treatment of sick and dying animals — are all too common in Australia.

In Australia, while the recent decision by Coles to make its own-brand pork ‘sow stall free’ is a welcome one, sow stalls make up only one of many animal welfare concerns in piggeries. That’s why even if a national ban on sow stalls is achieved, it’s important that caring consumers be aware of all the reasons to avoid factory farmed products.

The Code of Practice for pig production in this country falls well short of providing adequate protection for the millions of pigs raised in factory farms. And what’s worse is that this Code actually sanctions acts of animal cruelty.

Farrowing Crates

Before a pregnant mother pig gives birth she is moved from the sow stall into an even smaller ‘farrowing crate’. At this time her hormonal instincts are to build a safe nest, but imprisoned in the farrowing crate, her babies are born onto the same cold hard concrete floor she defecates on. She cannot properly nurture her piglets or display any kind of mothering instincts as she lays encircled by metal bars, unable to even turn around, for up to 6 weeks. Mother pigs may develop painful pressure sores and her bones and muscles are weakened through lack of any ability to exercise.

Routine Mutilations

Day-old piglets are subjected to routine mutilations without any form of pain relief. Bewildered piglets scream in agony as their teeth are clipped and their tails cut off (through the bone). Male babies may also be castrated in the same crude manner. Pigs have pieces of sensitive skin cut from their ears for identification. This is all without anaesthesia and is deemed ‘acceptable’ under the Code of Practice.

If these acts were performed on a dog or a cat, they would be illegal. All animals deserve protection from cruelty, but, as it stands, the Code of Practice exists, not for the welfare of animals, but to ensure factory farmers are exempt from cruelty laws and keep their costs low.

Take action

  • The best thing anyone can do to help end cruelty to pigs is simply not to eat them. Take the Pro Pig Pledge and don’t buy into cruelty, or the mistaken belief that a ban on sow stalls will mean an immediate end to factory farming.
  • Send a message to the Minister responsible for animal welfare in your State and demand that animal welfare laws provide protection from cruelty for all animals.
  • Check out cruelty-free alternatives to factory farmed products and delight your friends with some pig-free recipes!