I recently finished Animals Make Us Human, by Temple Grandin. She discusses what different types of animals need to be happy, and how to improve the living conditions of pets, livestock, zoo animals, and wildlife. Below are some of her thoughts on pigs. Read cow thoughts here.
- The winters in the Midwest are brutal, and pigs born in the winter could be lost in snowdrifts in the old system, so the mama pigs had to be kept inside. This led to the invention of gestation stalls where a sow is kept confined during her entire pregnancy. The sow can lie down and stand up, but she cannot turn around… Basically, every time the pig industry comes up with a solution to a problem, the solution costs so much to implement that the industry has to intensify production — raise more pigs on the same amount of land — to stay profitable… Most of these improvements have lowered the emotional welfare of the pigs. (p. 176)
- Unfortunately, the industry continues to prefer hard technological solutions to soft behavioral or management solutions. Keeping sows locked up alone saves on labor and training because it takes fewer employees and a lower level of skill to manage sows in sow stalls than it does to care for sows living in pens. (p. 179)
- The worst thing you can do to a pig is to repeatedly mix and remix small groups of strange animals together. (p. 179)
- So far, no one has found anything that can compete with straw for a pig’s interest and attention… The solution for limited supplies of straw is to use straw exclusively for enrichment, not for bedding. (p. 186)
- You have to handle pigs gently because they’re more excitable than cows… The lactic acid levels in their muscles skyrocket from all the exertion, and that wrecks the meat quality. (p. 193)
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