Pigs killed for their meat live only five or six months but it takes a battery of drugs to keep them alive. From birth until death they are given powerful antibiotics – drugs which create superbugs that can kill us – in a desperate attempt to control the diseases which run rife in the filth of the factory farm.
Over the past five years, Viva! has secretly filmed inside pig farms across the UK. Everywhere we pointed the camera we saw diseased, dead and dying animals. In almost every enclosure were the products of brutal neglect and indifference – broken legs, abscesses, ruptured stomachs, animals coughing from pneumonia, others panting from meningitis, cuts and lacerations from the perforated metal on which they have to live. From new born piglet to 100kg in just five months, slaughter must come as a relief to most of these muscle-bound travesties of creation.
On one farm with 2,000 pigs, nearly 400 had died in the first eight months. On others we filmed dead pigs left in the open to decay, prey to dogs and wildlife; dead piglets beneath a sea of writhing maggots; a pregnant sow about to give birth into her own excreta; pigs coated in their own faeces; animals with ruptures the size of footballs; pigs dragging themselves around, unable to walk.
The units we chose at random are not run by rogue farmers. One supplied the biggest bacon factory in Britain, which supplies major supermarket chains. Another breeds animals for one of the biggest bacon suppliers in the London region. There is such disregard for the animals that another farm we investigated left a mother sow haemorrhaging badly from her vulva. Her newly-born piglets suckle alongside the large pool of blood. All part of the ‘highest welfare standards in the world’.
Another farmer has his pigs living on bare concrete floors in their own filth and devoid of bedding. He admits that when he buys the baby pigs they are ‘drugged up to the eyeballs’ and have to go through cold turkey.
90% of Britain's pig producers claim to follow a code of practice on animal welfare – yet 95% of pigs killed for meat are factory farmed! The pictures to the right show just what that means.