The common misconception that pigs are dirty, unhygienic animals is simply not true! Unlike us, pigs don’t have sweat glands and so to cool themselves down they wallow in mud. But they are actually very clean and hygiene-conscious individuals.
They’re also very clever. Studies have shown that pigs are in fact smarter than both dogs and three-year-old children. And if you’ve ever met a pig, you’ll know that they can be massive fans of belly rubs!
What is life like for farmed pigs?
You might not be surprised to hear that the lives of pigs in farms are very short and brutal. The vast majority of pigs in the UK are kept in factory farms – huge industrial-scale facilities – and so very few ever get to see the outside world.
In the video above you can watch Hope and her piglets as they see grass for the first time: the joy is overwhelming. They were rescued by Viva! and Dean Farm Animal Sanctuary and continue to live happy and healthy lives away from harm.
Typically, when a sow (a female pig, like the mother in this video) gives birth she is kept in a small cage called a farrowing crate. She spends five weeks at a time unable to turn around and can barely move forwards or backwards.
Their babies frequently die very young, and those that are small or weak are often killed by farm workers hitting them against hard surfaces. As pigs grow up, they are kept inside barns with hundreds or thousands of other pigs, so tightly packed that there is hardly any room to lie down.
They are typically killed to be eaten at around five or six months old, despite the fact that they can live up to 20 years old or more.
Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story
Viva! investigated one such pig farm and made a documentary (now on Netflix) about what we found there. It wasn’t pretty!
With so many pigs crammed into the barn, many of them were found lying dead or dying in amongst the others. Pigs were climbing over the top of each other. And due to the extreme stress, some had started cannibalising others – something which pigs do not naturally do!
Our investigators were so concerned that they ended up calling the police and a vet. However, the authorities found nothing out of the ordinary. This is because the conditions of Hogwood farm were not unusual – this is how most pigs are kept! Millions of pigs across the UK live in these awful conditions every single day.
The only way to help these pigs for us as consumers, is to stop eating them. It’s that simple!
This is the case for all farmed animals: if we want to help them, go vegan!