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 dying animals.

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 misery-go-round continues.

For more information please see www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/pigs/
Watch our undercover video of two pig farms:
Rynehill Farm, Kingham, Oxon (1.5MB / 1m 42s)
Newham Farm, Sancreed, Cornwall (4MB / 5m 11s)
Read our report "Pig in Hell".

Viva! Vegetarians International Voice for Animals
8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol, BS2 8QH, UK
T: 0117 944 1000 F: 0117 924 4646 E: info@viva.org.uk