'It is time that we ask ourselves: what have we been doing to the living creatures? What have we been doing to the Nature? What have we been doing to ourselves? And what will or shall be done next?'' Cho Han Kyu
Factory farming accounts for over 85% of global pork production. It is a pig raising system that knowingly ignores core behavioral, welfare and health needs of the pig to maximize volume and profit. Factory farming systems inflict by design conditions of quite disgraceful systematic cruelty and deprivation on the pigs being raised (which we cover by topic as we look at what the higher pig welfare natural pig farming system can offer as an alternative). Core elements of the factory farming system are also used by the vast majority of small pig producers and small holders for raising (and abusing) pigs.
outward appearances factory farming is a highly uneconomical means of
raising pork. It benefits from huge 'hidden' subsidies on the price of
corn and soya (key feed components), and 'hidden' external costs
(massive environmental pollution of water table, rivers and streams)
that pork producers don?t have to pay. It is also given massive state
subsidies to facilitate the building of factory farms. And yet, factory farm pig producers are
struggling to survive. The profit rate per pig is extremely small and
it is only through sheer numbers of pigs raised and sold that a decent
profit can be made. Thousands of smaller sized factory farm operations are being driven to the wall each year because the relationship between costs and profit are out of balance. Costs are high due to the reliance on processed pig feed, the high costs of medication needed to keep the pigs well enough to live in the virus rich, crowded environment the pigs are raised in, and the costs of building of, and running of, high tech buildings and their ventilation and waste management systems. The warped mechanisms of the 'free market' has also conspired to drive pork prices down to unsustainable levels. So, despite trading in their souls
and humanity by totally failing to recognise or cater for the pigs
welfare and behavioral needs, pig producers, bar the huge players in the
market, are struggling to make ends meet.
Despite its shortcomings, the developing world is following intensive farming model of West, as are many small farmers globally who are just entering the pig raising market. As a result, in many cases, more humane systems of raising pigs productively being used by small holders and peasant farmers are being replaced with the inherently evil modern pig farming systems. Even small holders with just one or two pigs see the modern intensive farming system as the pig raising model that must be followed. They wrongly believe:
Fortunately there is a viable low cost alternative to factory farming available for small and large scale pork producers that ensures higher profits than factory farming based systems whilst respecting the natural behavior and welfare needs of the pigs. The natural pig farming system is designed to enable pigs to carry out core natural behaviour within a real world environment:
- It can root
- It can dig
- It can wallow in mud baths
- It can choose where to sit or lie, on hard or soft surfaces, alone or in groups
- It can choose a dedicated space to defecate
- It is free from swarms of flies
- It is free from obnoxious smells from excrement and faeces
- It can form stress free hierarchies within a staple family group that reduce aggression (and the need for pig mutilation ? teeth clipping, tail docking
- It can live a 'normal' unrestrained life during gestation and giving birth (no sow stalls or farrowing crates)
- It can have extended contact with their offspring prior to weaning
- It can have space to play, scamper and exercise
- It can experience the natural climate due to open sided pens: changes in climate, night and day, sunlight and breezes etc.
- It can enjoy contact and interaction with the 'real' world (if on small holder sites): with people, chickens, dogs etc.
- It can develop friendly bonds with the pig keeper/s
- It can eat a wider variety of food including fresh feed (for bulk and vitamins)
- It can lead an active, stimulating, happy life
And it can do all this within a pig raising system that provides low cost, high volume, high profit pork.