At the Oink Booth in the Robert A. Christensen Pavilion (formerly the Swine Barn), the Minnesota Pork Board offers their squeaky-clean version of a 360˚ look inside a Minnesota pig farm. But here’s what they won’t show you:
Mother pigs spend their entire lives in tight metal crates, unable to even turn around. After they are forcibly impregnated, their babies are removed from them a couple weeks after birth. Within the first 24 hours of each piglet’s life, and without anesthetics or pain relief, farm workers will perform one or more of the following:
Notch and tattoo their ears
Cut their needle teeth
Chop off their tails
Castrate the male piglets
According to the National Pork Board, “The severing of the spermatic cord appears to be the most painful part of the castration procedure…however, neither the technique used to sever the cords nor the method of handling the pigs appears to reduce the painfulness of the procedure.”
The animal ag industry knows their practices cause intense pain and suffering, yet refuses to change, primarily because they say castrating male piglets results in better tasting flesh and therefore higher profits.
It is common to kill pigs at just five to six months of age, depriving them of 95% of their natural lifespan. Once at the slaughterhouse, they will first be shot in the head with a bolt gun to render them unconscious. But many are still conscious while having their throats slit and sometimes even while being butchered, slowly dying from blood loss.
Particularly brutal is the confinement of constantly impregnated female pigs, their bodies used as baby-making machines. Mother pigs spend their entire lives in tight metal crates, unable to even turn around. Natural behaviors like foraging for food, caring for their babies, taking mud baths, and developing a social structure are denied to pigs sold for humans to eat.
Pigs are very social, emotionally sensitive, and curious. They are extremely intelligent and can understand the perspectives of other pigs and anticipate their behaviors. Their thinking abilities are more sophisticated than dogs or three-year-old humans. In sanctuary settings they love playing with toys, wrestling, kicking up their heels and leaping about, and taking mud baths.