Two weeks ago, late at night, the Veganuary team visited a pig farm...
We wanted to see for ourselves what life is like for farmed pigs.
This farm was chosen randomly – a small, local farm in Yorkshire (UK). We entered through unlocked doors and took all the necessary biohazard precautions. Between us, we have watched a lot of investigative footage, but nothing could prepare us for the misery of that night. The video below does not include any slaughter, but it is upsetting. We recommend that you do not watch it at work.
The farm was filthy. In every shed we found dead piglets – maggots and rats attacking their little bodies. In the only shed where we saw living piglets, many were obviously dying; unable to find warmth and with no strength to suckle. Their mothers were locked in ‘farrowing crates’, unable to turn around or help their babies. (This is completely legal and means the piglets are forced to fend for themselves because their mothers cannot fulfil any natural, maternal instincts.)
Imprisoned in the filthy crates, the female pigs showed obvious signs of neglect – the majority were far too thin and many had sores and open wounds. The lack of living piglets (and the swollen teats of the mother pigs) suggested that many had already given birth and those babies had been weaned. (It is illegal to keep pigs in farrowing crates when their piglets are old enough to be taken away.) Outside the sheds we found an old grain sack propped up against the wall. It was filled with the rotting bodies of other dead piglets. Everywhere we looked there was misery.
We had to throw away the clothes and shoes we wore that night. And we’re haunted by the fact that the pigs are still there, and that we had to leave them…
Our combined actions can prevent more animals from suffering in this way. Individually we have a choice, and collectively we have the strength to change things for the better. Every piglet we saw that night was just as sweet and innocent as Ernie in our #LetsMakeLondonVegan campaign, and just as deserving of life.
The farm we visited the other night is not ‘an exception’, it is not unusual. What we witnessed is standard on British farms, and very much common practice. The meat, egg, and dairy industries view animals as money-making machines. They are used until they can give no more, and then they are simply thrown away.