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Fight for Pig Welfare

Natural pig farming believes in high pig welfare

Central to the natural pig farming philosophy is the belief that pig welfare matters (in-fact all farm animal welfare matters!). We raise profitable great tasty pork through respecting the pig and its behavioral needs. Our pigs are raised with love and slaughtered with a compassionate concern to minimise any distress. We are totally opposed to any kind of knowing cruelty or disregard to the core needs of the pig. Because of this we are fundamentally opposed to the way our society chooses to raise pork. The factory farming systems used in today's pork production are an affront to our own common humanity and to our duty of care towards sentient beings. It is evil, pure and simple. We are all implicated - our governments that make the laws that permit such evil, and the people who are aware of these obscenities that is being carried out in their name who do nothing to stop it. And it is an evil that must be stopped. This natural farming pig site is therefore almost a unique pig site in that though we raise pigs we activity encourage action against the present way society chooses to allow its pork to be raised (Click here to see how you can make a difference).

Note: You may observe the poor quality of the photographs depicting factory farms. This is because the factory farm operators themselves rarely publish photographs of what goes on in their facilities (no business in their right mind would willingly reveal the sheer horror of what goes on in their factories). Therefore, some of the photographs I use on this page, which I got from the internet, appear to have been taken clandestinely and are not from non official sources.

Current pig welfare situation in the E.U. and U.S.A.

Some progress is being made in parts of the world. Slow, highly inadequate progress, but progress non the less. Pigs being raised in the European Union (E.U.) at least have some legal protection against the worst abuses, laws have been adopted that is steering pork production in the right direction, and slowly there is some compliance with this legislation. The recent ban on sow stalls is a step forward, but it still allows for sows to be caged in such confinement that they cannot turn or move more than one step back or forward. The fact that they no longer have to spend their whole life in these evil stalls is a step forward, but they will still be imprisoned between 10 - 15 weeks each year. That cannot be right. It is also sad to note that despite 13 years to prepare for this ban the fact is 30% of the EU countries are still non compliant. That's totally unacceptable.

As for the U.S.A, land of the free, just thank your God that you are not a farm animal in that country. There is precious little legal protection for pigs (unbelievably there is no national farm animal welfare legislation), and there is precious little freedom of speech when it comes to highlighting the atrocious conditions pigs are raised in: the pork producers will take legal action if you question the way they raise their pork and the safety of the meat they produce, and they have the law and the makers (senators) in their pockets to such a degree the chances of winning such law suits are negligable. A totally disgraceful situation all round.

It is not the intention of this website to highlight the issues in each country. I'm a EU citizen (I'm British to be precise) and if we can raise the bar on pig welfare in Europe then the rest of the world will have to follow if they wish to export pork to Europe. So, for what follows, my focus will be on the E.U.

Current pig welfare legislation within the E.U.

The legal welfare standards varies globally but there is a trend of harmonising standards due to increasing globalisation. The European Union (EU) is a front runner in this and has regulations covering all aspects of housing and managing pigs. These laws are a triump for the long and protracted work of a committed group of E.U. M.P.'s and animal welfare groups who have worked tirelessly to bring some humanity into our live food production systems. There is still a long way to go.

 Some key EU standards

  • The continuous imprisonment of sows in sow stalls is a banned (as of January 2013) but is still allowed for up to 5 weeks per impregnation cycle.
  • Use of tethers for sows has been banned since 2006.
  • Sows must be kept in groups from 4 week after serving (mating) to 1 week before expected farrowing time.
  • Sows must have access to high fiber feed as well as high energy feed to satisfy their hunger.
  • Farrowing sows must have suitable material for nesting behaviour unless it is not technically feasible for slurry system use.
  • Tail docking must not be carried out routinely.
  • Tail docking and castration after seven day of life must be done using anesthetic and additional prolonged analgesia.
  • Piglets and pregnant sows and gilts must have access to solid floor.
  • Piglets should not be weaned (ie taken away from sow) before 28 days (although certain pig raising operations - all in all out - can do so after 21 days if applying rigorous bio-security rules).
  • Weaners and growers must be given minimum space allowances dependent on their weight.
  • All pigs must have a sufficient quantity of straw or other suitable material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities.

On paper these laws are an improvement on what went on before. However, it would be a huge mistake to read into this that the condition of pigs raised in the E.U. is good. Most of these provisions do not go nearly far enough and the level of non-compliance is high.

Click here for full EU directives laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs:

EU Directive on Pigs

Just because it's the law doesn't make it so

The level of non - compliance to the E.U. laws relating to pigs are a disgrace. The pork producers are treating the E.U. lawmakers and the people of Europe with utter contempt. And there are getting away with it. For instance, a European Food Safety Authority report in 2010 found that over 90% of Europe's pigs were still being tail-docked even though it is illegal to do this routinely. And not much has changed since then. A recent audit by the European Commison audit (Published April 2018) found, for example, that in Denmark, one of the major pig producing countries, 98.5% of pigs are still routinely docked. This, after 25 years since the first E.U. wide legal ban on tail docking!

A recent audit found only 65% of E.U. states complying with the directive to provide manipulable material to pigs. And still, no E.U. sanctions against these non-complying countries. It's an appalling abuse of both the pigs legal protections and the rule of law within the E.U.

And of course no-one is monitoring whether sows are being fed enough feed and fibre to avoid the relentless feeling of hunger that they suffer from.

Recent surveys by Compassion In World Farming investigating the level of compliance regarding the provision of manipulable materials (straw) to pigs have found wholesale and widespread non compliance by the sample farms visited. This, in countries who are judged by the E.U. to be complying with the E.U. directives on pig welfare. And the level of compliance in implementing the sow stall ban is also sadly lackly. So there is much to be done to enforce the limited welfare improvement laws that the E.U. has passed.

Is this really high pig welfare?

On paper these laws are an improvement on what went on before. However, it would be a huge mistake to read into this that the condition of pigs raised in the E.U. is good. Most of these provisions do not go nearly far enough. they pander to the ends of the pig factory farmers rather than base their decisions on the needs of the pig.

For instance, the legally minimum unobstructed floorspace that pigs should have at different stages of the development are derisory and barely better the space allocation of the worst factory farms. The legislation legitimises the overcrowding of factory farms and sends the wrong message to those raising pigs regarding the need to have lower stocking density for space available.

Clearly there is a long way to go to force a meaningful change in the way our pigs are being raised. Pandering to the factory farm industry isn’t working so rather than watering down recommendations by the EU Scientific Vetinary Advisory Committee the EU Commissioners should take the high moral ground and insist on compliance to the highest and most humane standards. That means radically increasing the minimum space requirements for pigs, significantly lowering stocking densities, legally stipulating the percentage of bulky or high fibre element required in feed to avoid the long term starvation and hunger sows in particular are suffering, and ensuring manipulable material is in fact provide in clearly determined. For that to happen they need pushing.

How can you help?

Each and every one of us has the ability to champion real meaningful change. Do some good today and act on your better instincts:

  • Sign up to these very effective animal welfare advocate groups and support their campaigns
  • Write to your local Member of Parliament and E.U. M.P.?s to demand higher farm animal welfare standards
  • Shop ethically. Avoid buying food from fast food chain stores and only buy higher welfare products from your local grocery store. Better still, shop at your local farmers markets where you can be reassured as to the higher welfare credentials of your meat.
  • Look and see how you can be a catalysts for change. Recruit your Facebook subscribers to the cause, add comments to articles that highlight the issues, etc.
  • If you have a works canteen campaign to get it to source from higher animal welfare sources only
  • Talk about the welfare concerns to family and friends and inspire them to change their eating and buying behavior
  • Respond to articles in internet newspapers about the food we eat: get the free range and higher farm animal welfare argument across

And of course, if you are raising pigs yourself or working in the factory farm industry champion the cause of raising pigs to higher welfare standards.

Some higher welfare farm animal advocate groups we support

Please seek out and support some of the major higher welfare farm animal advocacy groups in your country. They are making a huge difference in informing public opinion and forcing change on the law makers and retailers who sell farm animal produce. Below are some of the farm animal welfare groups we support.

Compassion in World Farming is a globally respected lobbying and campaigning organisation that has been extremely successful in improving farm animal welfare. Through a strategy of working directly with the food industry and retailers whilst actively lobbying and campaigning to public and law makers alike to push for a more humane approach to the way we raise our food they are making a real and significant impact to the cause of farm animal welfare.

Compassion in World Farming are extremely active and effective in fighting for farm animal welfare and make it very easy for you to add your voice and support for their campaigns. Please sign up for their email newsletter so you can receive regular information about their campaigns and appeals. Do the right thing, now!

Pig Business is a film and campaign produced by the organisation Farms Not Factories that supports people across the world campaigning against factory pig farming – A system that abuses animals, threatens our health by overusing antibiotics, destroys rural communities, and pollutes the air and water. Sign up for their newsletter and keep informed on what is going on.

I really respect Viva (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) for its passionate and uncompromising fight against the cruelty of factory farming. You don’t have to be vegetarian (I’m not) to appreciate and support their activities against factory farm practices. Please sign up for the email newsletter that will make you aware of the latest campaigns tat you can add your voice to.

The Soil Association is the U.K.'s world renowned organic farm organisation that promotes the production of food using environmentally and animal friendly farming methods. It is active in campaigning against a dramatic escalation of industrial pig farming in the U.K. and in promoting their higher welfare alternative. Sign up for their newsletter so you can add your support to their campaigns for higher farm animal welfare.