One of the worst animal cruelty videos I’ve ever seen was that of a pig farm. It was about a month ago, a regular day, a pretty good one and I saw this video. Whenever I see a video of this nature on any feeds from people that I follow or in my e-mail I always watch it. I believe that they deserve to have someone watch that. I’m always hearing people talk about how they can’t handle to watch something like that and it makes me fume. If it wasn’t for people like that then we wouldn’t half the problem that we have today. Seeing is what makes sane people want to do something to fix it. It doesn’t have to be this way. It only is now because we haven’t stepped up. We’re too busy turning our heads the other way because ‘we can’t handle it.’ As Albert Einstein once said, “The world won’t be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those watch them without doing anything.”
Businesses won’t sell what isn’t bought. We don’t have to stay away from meat forever. Once we got the change that we demanded then we could go back to eating meat.
For inspiration, I’ll be telling you a bit about the pig farming industry.
A sow whose life wasn’t meant for eating, but simply breeding spends most of her life in a gestation crate.
After impregnation, the sow is locked in a narrow metal gestation crate. The width of the crate varies from 18 to 24 inches, and the length is 7 feet, extending just beyond the sow’s own body. She is restrained in this unbedded, cement-floored crate for her entire pregnancy – nearly four months. She is unable to walk or turn around. She’ll be expected to have 20 piglets per year.
She is fed at one end of the crate, while her feces collects at the other. Some crates are so narrow that simply standing up and lying down require strenuous effort. On some factory farms, the sow is literally tied to the floor by a short chain or strap around her neck. Deprived of all exercise and any opportunity to fulfill her behavioral needs, she lives in a constant state of distress.
When in a natural environment a pregnant sow will isolate herself from the herd one or two days before delivering her piglets, so she can seek an isolated spot and build a nest. Even when raised in the shelter of a barn, domestic sows who are given straw and room to move will put together a nest for their piglets. The mother and her piglets form strong bonds.
Near the end of her four month pregnancy, the sow is moved from the gestation crate to yet another restraining device, the farrowing crate. Against all her natural instincts, she must give birth to piglets, nurse them, eat, sleep, defecate, drink, stand, and lie in the same cramped space.
I’m not mother, probably never will be and I’ll probably never want to be, but I know that mother’s will go through hell and back in order to protect their kids. Even this pig, this animal, has the natural instinct to protect her young, to build a nest, a fortress for them and in a factory all she has is cement. Can you even imagine what that would be like? Mothers break down in Wal-mart because they can’t buy their brat the toy that they want. It’s their natural instinct to supply their child every need and want, no matter what the cost. Could you even imagine if you couldn’t even build your kid a safe place to be for the first two days of their life?
The piglets are taken from the mother to have their tails cut off to minimize tail biting, an aberrant behavior that occurs when these highly-intelligent animals are kept in deprived factory farm environments. One article I read even suggested that their teeth be cut out. I’m not sure if all farms, factory or not do this. I haven’t seen this anywhere else.
The nursing period is cut drastically shortened to 2-3 weeks by the premature separation of the piglets from their mother. The sow is immediately re-impregnated – and sent back to an even bleaker existence in the gestation crate. This vicious cycle is repeated over and over again until the sow’s “productivity” wanes, and she is sent to slaughter.
Poor air quality, extreme close-quarters confinement and unsanitary living conditions (In Iowa alone, hog factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually) combine to make diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), swine influenza virus (SIV) and salmonellosis a serious threat to animal welfare.
In addition to their direct effects on animal health, several viruses are known to suppress pigs’ immune systems, leading to greater risk from opportunistic bacteria which further degrade health and result in on-farm deaths. These viral infections frequently go undiagnosed because they are masked by the overlying bacterial disease and testing is expensive.
The overcrowding and confinement is unnatural and stress-producing since pigs are actually very clean animals. If they are given sufficient space, pigs are careful not to soil the areas where they sleep or eat. But in factory farms, they are forced to live in their own feces, urine and vomit and even amid the corpses of other pigs.
In addition to overcrowded housing, sows and pigs also endure extreme crowding in transportation, resulting in rampant suffering and deaths. As one 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?
In June of 2008 when levees broke and torrential rains in the Midwest flooded massive hog farms. While some producers evacuated their animals, several others failed to have evacuation plans for the thousands of animals in need of relocation. Some opened their barn doors before they fled for high ground, leaving the pigs to fend for themselves. Others left animals locked in their pens and gestation crates to thrash in vain against the bars as the water rose inexorably over their heads.
Prior 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, in accordance with the federal Humane Slaughter Act. However, stunning at slaughterhouses is terribly imprecise, and often conscious animals are hung 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 and fully conscious.
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