Once weaning is complete and the piglets are removed from the mother, the piglets are kept together as a family group. This allows the close companionship and natural hierarchy that has developed to stay in place, unlike factory farm operations where piglets are split up and mixed with other piglets of similar size, and then mixed again at various stages of their development. This is a recipe for fighting as each pig must try to establish its place in the new hierarchy. Not only does this lead to injuries from bites and higher stress levels amongst those piglets, but, also a reduction in growth when compared to unmixed groups. Our smaller group sizes also ensure the piglets grow up in the harmonious staple family environments larger group sizes can?t provide.
Factory farming is in a rush to wean. Some factory farms routinely take the piglets away from their mothers at 2 weeks of age where they are mixed with other unfamiliar piglets and given antibiotic laced feed. Other factory farms separate within 15-21 days. They are put in large concrete or slatted pens that lack nothing to engage the lively, inquisitive minds of the young piglets.
Removing the piglets from their mother so quickly is not conducive to piglet welfare. When the piglets are removed from the sow the mixing unfamiliar piglets together is an unnecessary stress on the young piglets. They must fight for and establish a new place in the heirarchy and an element of fear from attack is introduced. The abrupt switch from suckling to powder feed is so early that it causes feeding problem and digestive disorders. All these practices result in the start in the downward spiral of a piglets welfare and a retardation of growth that fear, stress and unfamiliar food results in.