A short programme on radio 4 this morning featured a US farm that intensively breeds and fattens pigs, on a massively industrialised scale.
Americans are supremely trained in the use of euphemisms. They are past masters at turning truth into lies, never call a spade a spade if you are an American , just hide nastiness by giving it a pleasant sounding word. This particular 'farmer' likes to stress that pigs are not human beings, he insists we must not anthropomorphise pigs yet he constantly uses the word 'gals' for his breeding sows. He keeps these in the most degrading and dreadful conditions. The trapped sows eventually go mad, chewing on the bars of their tiny crates in bleak despair.
Gestation crates are used in US, Canada, Denmark, and Mexico.In some states in the US namely Florida, Arizona, and California they are banned, they are also banned in the UK, and from 2015 it will be illegal to use sow crates on New Zealand pig farms.
Systems for housing pigs for fattening (piglets are taken from their mothers at a few weeks old) are equally horrific. They live crowded together in a small pen indoors on a concrete slatted surface without straw. They, like the sows never see the light of day. Excrement passes through the slats, and pigs which are highly intelligent naturally clean animals have to live their entire lives above the smell of their own waste. Piglets are subjected to tail docking, teeth clipping, and ear notching without anaesthetic, they are put on drug programmes , and antibiotics, vitamins, and hormones are administered pre-emptively. In the US there is a Humane Slaughter Act but there are repeated violations of this in the slaughter houses. North Carolina houses approximately 10 million pigs, with the greatest state of barbarity reserved for breeding sows. They spend 70 days a year confined to their metal crates where they produce c2.5 litters per annum, and are despatched to the slaughter house if they fail to reach this number or in any way fall below par.
How can anyone eat bacon or ham without checking its origins first? The association of greed and the human being is mindblowing. A pig, or indeed any other animal, is not a machine!