Pigs are more intelligent than dogs and used to live wild
in Britain. Now they are kept locked in prisons for meat. Pigs
lived in the great forests and woods that covered most of the
UK eating beech nuts, acorns, other seeds and nuts, insects,
roots and occasionally carrion. Their snout and strong neck
helped them to grub up roots and other food. Not keen on temperature
extremes, they sought shade under the trees when they were
hot and made nests from the litter on the forest floor when
they felt it was getting too nippy. All the wild pigs in Britain
were hunted to extinction in the seventeenth century.
Instead of being free, with a right to a natural existence,
more than 90 per cent of piglets are factory farmed. In investigations
of farms all over Britain, Viva! exposed diseased, dead and
In almost every fattening unit was glaring neglect and indifference
- broken legs, abscesses, ruptured stomachs, animals coughing
with pneumonia, others panting from meningitis, cuts and lacerations
from the perforated metal on which they are forced to live.
One farm investigated in Yorkshire - which supplied major
supermarkets - looked almost derelict, with junk and debris
everywhere and only an array of grimy windowless sheds as the
give away to what it farmed. An overpowering stench of ammonia
and faeces was overwhelming.
There was no light inside but a cacophony of noise - a scrambling
and clattering of animals in fear. The camera lights revealed
baby pigs in barren metal pens and the noise was their feet
on the bare metal floors as they charged to get away. There
were so many of then that there was no place to go or hide.
This near darkness, these utterly barren, sterile conditions
is their home for over a month - about one-fifth of their lives.
One pig had a broken leg, others were stunted and suffering
from 'scabby pig' from which they will almost certainly die.
Some were lame, others had deformed spines.
Outside in a rusting trailer was a pile of rotting corpses,
discoloured and bloated from days of decay were half submerged
in putrid rainwater.
In the 'second stage grower' pen, there were around 200 large
pigs in an area of about 10m by 12m. Overcrowding is typical
of this industry. The pigs squealed and screamed, biting in
their desperation to be let out.
The pigs are killed at about five months old for sausages,
bacon, ham and pork.
The 'breeding stock' - the pigs kept to produce the piglets
which are killed for meat - usually give birth in a small farrowing
crate on a concrete or perforated metal floor. A Viva! investigation
of a Tesco supplier exposed mother pigs with ulcers and infections
in cages inches bigger than their bodies; maggots crawling
over dead piglets and starving, dying animals. 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 cell.
The bars on the crates stop the mother pigs from being able
to move - they cannot take a step forward or back or turn around.
This causes the pregnant animals to ache all over and many
have back and leg problems.
The bars also stop them from reaching their babies when they
give birth, although the babies can reach their mother's teats
to suckle. The piglets are taken away early at about four weeks
old and kept in the fattening units. Five days after her piglets
are taken away, the sow is made pregnant again and the whole
For more information please see www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/pigs/
Watch our undercover video of two pig farms:
Farm, Kingham, Oxon (1.5MB / 1m 42s)
Farm, Sancreed, Cornwall (4MB / 5m 11s)
our report "Pig in Hell".