Pigs are one of the most intensively raised animals on the planet. They suffer from birth to death.
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Wild piglets spend their first 10 to 14 weeks with their mothers. After that, they can go out into the wild and start to explore the world. This contrasts sharply with the factory-farm life they live.
Factory farms use mother pigs as breeding machines, and sometimes their piglets are taken away at three weeks of age.
These piglets are born to endure a lifetime of pain.
Natural instincts denied
Mother pigs have a natural instinct of nesting to prepare for their babies’ birth. However, she can’t do so in a steel cage at a factory farm.
Her piglets become too far away from her to be able to bond with them when they are born. Intentionally, mother pigs are bred to produce litters that are so large that there isn’t enough teats for all of her piglets.
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Mutilations that cause pain
Many people don’t know that piglets have to undergo painful mutilations in the first week of their lives, sometimes without pain relief.
This involves having their tails cut, their ears notched to identify them, and their teeth being clipped.
Retaken from their mother
Also, piglets are taken from their mother to allow them to re-breed as soon as possible.
This is distressing not only for the mother pig but also for the piglets.
The risk of illness and disease in piglets born too soon is higher when they are weaned prematurely. Therefore, farmers give their piglets antibiotics to prevent them from becoming sick.
Overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is contributing to the rise of superbugs and rendering them ineffective for human medicine.
Change is what consumers want
We all know that people want better lives for their piglets.
World Animal Protection polled 11 countries in Europe, Americas, and Australasia to find out how horrified people are about the cruel treatment that mother pigs and their babies receive.
More than 60% of respondents in each country stated that they would not purchase pork from a supermarket if it was sourced from systems where the piglets are subject to teeth grinding, tail docking, or cutting, and sometimes without pain relief.
A range of 80% to 93% of respondents were also in agreement that pigs should be raised with higher welfare standards.
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This is not the life that pigs have to lead
Through our Raise Pigs Right campaign, we have been advocating for improved welfare standards for pigs worldwide since 2018.
Over 375,000 people have called for supermarkets like Tesco, Walmart, and Carrefour to improve welfare standards for the pork products they sell around the world. Tops Market in Thailand and Kroger USA both committed to eliminating cages for mother porcines.
Global experts from industry, government, and civil society have been brought together to discuss the barriers and opportunities for ending painful piglet mautilations. We also share our findings with other peers in an effort to improve piglet welfare.
We have released a business case that profiles how top pig producers around the globe have found better welfare practices for their piglets.
All of our questions are supported by facts
Pigs can be just as intelligent as three-year-old children and exhibit similar behaviours to humans. They may eat each other’s tails as they grow up in concrete pen cramped with little to do.
But, removing tails doesn’t solve the problem.
It is possible to give pigs more space, straw or other edible material, which will reduce stress and minimize tail biting.
Pigs will be happier and more healthy if they are allowed to stay with their mother longer before being weaned.
They are more immune and less prone to illness, which significantly reduces the need for routine antibiotics. This is good news for both pigs as well as people.
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Move companies to raise pigs right
It is important that pigs raised in factory farms live healthy and happy lives as the demand for meat continues growing.