The pigs that have
escaped the horror of the slaughterhouse in
Wiltshire have captured the heart of the nation.
Viva! is being inundated with calls from the public
demanding that the pigs are not killed. These two
real life Babes may not be able to talk, but
they've made it very clear that they want to
Director of Viva! says: "These pigs have tasted
freedom for the first time and should not be taken
back to the abattoir. We would ensure they live
out the rest of their lives safely and happily.
Why is the farmer who owns the animals so unwilling
to let us buy them?"
Pigs lived wild in
the great forests and woods that covered most of
the UK eating beech nuts, acorns, other seeds and
nuts, insects, roots and sometimes small mammals
until the seventeenth century when they were hunted
Instead of being
free, with a right to a natural existence, breeding
sows spend their lives in squalid concrete prisons,
with no space to walk or run. In Europe, where much
of the UK's bacon originates, sows kept for
breeding spend their 16½ week pregnancy in
metal-barred "dry-sow" stalls, measuring 1.3 x
0.6-1.0m. Their prisons are so small they stop the
pregnant pigs from being able to move properly.
Standing day after day in a barren stall not
surprisingly sends many sows mad and causes searing
back and leg pain. The sows, naturally sociable
animals, are stopped from having any companionship.
Some are even fitted with girdles to strap them to the floor whilst
others are chained by the neck.
When the pigs are
ready to have their piglets they are moved to a
small farrowing crate on a concrete or perforated
metal floor. Sows have strong maternal feelings
and would normally spend days building a "nest" of
leaves or straw. In a crate they cannot do this
and so lapse into stereotyped behaviour where they
repeatedly try to build a nest in their barren
The bars on the
crates stop the mother pigs from reaching their
babies, although the babies can reach their
mother's teats to suckle. The piglets are weaned
early and then crammed into small cages known as
piggi-boxes which are stacked in tiers. Next, they
are put into fattening pens - packed together on a
bare floor without bedding, without trees, flowers,
sunlight, the freedom to run, snuffle up food or
choose their mate. Conditions may be so cramped
that the piglets hurt each other by biting one
another's tails. Instead of allowing the animals
more room, farmers remove the piglets' tails,
either whole or in part, by cutting through the
bone - without anaesthetic.
Their teeth may
also be removed with pliers ....and you thought it
was bad going to the dentist.
Five days after her
piglets are taken away, the sow is made pregnant
again and the whole misery-go-round
Pigs that are bred
for ham and pork are killed at 18 - 22 weeks while
the remainder are fattened up and slaughtered at
5-6 months old for bacon.
20 million pigs are
killed in the UK each year.
adds: "Hopefully these pigs will save their own