Hog Hell: How Pigs Are Raised and Killed for Meat

When they aren’t confined to factory farms, pigs are naturally very clean, playful, and social and are protective of their young. According to Dr. Donald Broom, a Cambridge University professor and a former scientific adviser to the Council of Europe, these brainy animals are smarter than dogs and understand how to use mirrors

On factory farms, billions of pigs spend their lives in cramped, filthy warehouses and are denied everything that is natural and important to them. They don’t even get to breathe fresh air or see the sky until the day they are shoved and prodded onto a truck bound for the slaughterhouse.

For most of their adult lives, female pigs (sows) are confined to metal crates so small that they can’t even turn around, let alone fulfill their strong urge to build a nest for their young, as they would naturally.

When they are old enough to give birth, sows are artificially inseminated and imprisoned for nearly the entire length of their pregnancies in “gestation crates,” cages that are less than 1 meter wide that prevent the sows from turning around or lying down comfortably. The pigs often develop pressure sores from lack of movement. After giving birth, mother pigs are moved to “farrowing crates,” enclosures similar to gestation crates with only a tiny additional concrete area for the piglets when they nurse.

Gestation crates are so barbaric that they have been banned in the U.K., Sweden, and several U.S. states. The European Union has banned gestation crates for all new farms and allows existing farms to confine sows to the crates only for the first 35 days after breeding.

The intensive confinement, loneliness, and deprivation of living inside a crate drives many mother pigs insane, causing them to chew neurotically on their cage bars or engage in other repetitive behavior. After three or four years of being impregnated again and again, their bodies become worn out, and they are shipped off to slaughter.

Babies Kidnapped and Mutilated

In nature, piglets nurse for several months, but on factory farms, they are torn away from their distraught mothers when they’re as young as 10 days old. The stress of extreme crowding causes many piglets to engage in destructive behavior such as cannibalism and tail-biting. In a cruel attempt to prevent this, piglets’ tails are chopped off and the ends of their sensitive teeth are broken off with pliers. Male piglets are also castrated. Typically, no pain relievers or anesthetics are given to ease the animals’ suffering during or after these painful procedures.

Transport Terror and Live Scalding

When allowed to live out their natural lives, pigs live for an average of 10 to 12 years, but factory farmed pigs are sent to slaughter after just four to six months of life.

Pigs are forced onto crowded trucks and sent on long-distance journeys to slaughter through all weather extremes. They are usually deprived of food and water, and many pigs die en route. The vibrations of a moving truck are extremely distressing to pigs. In fact, when pigs in an experiment were trained to push an off switch in a noisy, vibrating transport simulator, the animals would work hard to stop the vibrations and noise.

At the slaughterhouse, many pigs are improperly stunned and are still conscious when they are dumped into scalding water, which is intended to soften their skin and remove their hair. This is the fate of millions of pigs across Asia, with 25 million slaughtered in 2013 in the Philippines alone and 726 million pigs slaughtered that year in China.

Save Pigs at Every Meal
You can help stop this cruelty by going vegan. For great tips, easy ingredient swaps, and free recipes to help you make the transition, take the vegan pledge. If you’re in the Philippines, order PETA’s free vegetarian/vegan starter kit today!