ANIMALS KILLED FOR FOOD:
corporate hog factories replacing traditional hog farms, pigs are
being treated more as inanimate tools of production than as living,
feeling animals. Pigs are sociable, playful, and emotional animals
with high intelligence level.
Approximately 100 million pigs are raised and slaughtered in the
U.S. every year. As babies, they are subjected to painful
mutilations without anesthesia or pain relievers. The piglets' tails
are cut off to minimize tail biting, an aberrant behavior which
occurs when these highly intelligent animals are kept in deprived
factory farm environments. In addition, notches are taken out of the
piglets' ears for identification.
to 3 weeks of age, the piglets are taken away from their mothers, by
which time, approximately 15% will have died. The surviving piglets
are crowded into pens with metal bars and concrete floors. A
headline from National Hog Farmer magazine advises, "Crowding Pigs
Pays..." The pigs endure overcrowded confinement buildings for their
entire lives -- until they reach a slaughter weight of 250 pounds at
6 months of age.
air in hog factories is laden with dust, dander, and noxious gases
which are produced by the animals' urine and feces. Studies of
workers in swine confinement buildings have found 60 percent to have
breathing problems, despite their spending only a few hours a day
inside confinement buildings. For pigs, who live their entire lives
in factory farm confinement, respiratory disease is rampant.
Modern hog factories are a fertile breeding ground for a wide
variety of diseases. A Pork industry report explains: "Porcine
Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, or PRRS, was first reported
in U.S. herds in 1987. It is now estimated to be in as many as 60
percent of U.S. herds...Swine arthritis has increased in economic
importance with confinement rearing, partly because of damage
related to flooring conditions and partly because of faster growth
rates and lack of exercise... The incidence of salmonellosis has
continued to increase. It is estimated that one-third to half of
farms have some level of salmonellosis... Epidemic transmissible
gastroenteritis, or TGE, is a dreaded disease because it's hard to
keep out of herds, there's no effective treatment and it carries a
devastating mortality rate in baby pigs. Nearly all pigs less than
10 days old die if infected... Forty to 70 percent of U.S. pigs show
evidence of infection with Bratislava (a type of Leptospirosis)...
Tests indicate 80 percent to 85 percent of sows in major swine
producing areas have been exposed to parvovirus."
Modern breeding sows are treated like piglet making machines. Living
a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth, the sows each have
more than 20 piglets per year. After being impregnated, the sows are
confined in small pens or metal gestation crates which are just 2
feet wide. At the end of their 4 month pregnancy, they are
transferred to farrowing crates to give birth. The sows barely have
room to stand up and lie down, and many suffer from sores on their
shoulders. They are denied straw bedding and forced to stand and lie
on hard floors. When asked about this, a pork industry
representative wrote, "...straw is very expensive and there
certainly would not be a supply of straw in the country to supply
all the farrowing pens in the U.S."
Numerous research studies conducted over the last 25 years have
pointed to physical and psychological maladies experienced by sows
in confinement. The unnatural flooring and lack of exercise causes
obesity and crippling leg disorders, while the deprived environment
results in neurotic coping behaviors such as bar biting, dog
sitting, and "mourning."
giving birth and nursing their young for two to three weeks, the
piglets are taken away to be fattened, and the sow is reimpregnated.
Hog factories strive to keep their sows '100 % active', as an
article in Successful Farming explains, "Any sow that is not
gestating, lactating or within seven days post weaning is
non-active." When the sow is no longer deemed a productive breeder,
she is sent to slaughter.
addition to experiencing overcrowded housing, sows and pigs also
experience crowding in transportation - despite the fact that this
crowding causes suffering and deaths. As a hog industry expert
writes, "Death losses during transport are too high -- amounting to
more than $8 million per year. But it doesn't take a lot of
imagination to figure out why we load as many hogs on a truck as we
do. It's cheaper. So it becomes a moral issue. Is it right to
overload a truck and save $.25 per head in the process, while the
overcrowding contributes to the deaths of 80,000 hogs each year?"
to being hung upside down by their back legs and bled to death at
the slaughterhouse, pigs are supposed to be 'stunned' and rendered
unconscious. However, 'stunning' is terribly imprecise, and this
results in conscious animals hanging upside down, kicking and
struggling, while a slaughterhouse worker tries to 'stick' them in
the neck with a knife. If the worker is unsuccessful, the pig will
be carried to the next station on the slaughterhouse assembly line,
the scalding tank, where he/she will be boiled alive.
You Can Do
Begin learning about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan. A
vegetarian is someone who does
not eat the flesh of any living being including chickens,
turkeys, geese, ducks, crustaceans, or fish. A vegan
is someone who makes every effort to avoid eating,
wearing or using all animal products.
Try the many new and flavorful “meat” alternatives, or mock
meats, now available at health food stores and at many regular
supermarkets. Delicious soy and rice “milks” are now available
at all grocery stores. Keep trying new animal-free foods.
When you see veal on a menu, always speak to the manager or
owner of the restaurant to complain about the particularly
brutal treatment of calves for this dish. If told their veal
is “free range,” tell them there is no such thing. By
definition, veal must be kept in certain conditions to produce
this type of meat. If it is “free range,” it cannot be called