happy times Lucy Pittaway

Lucy Pittaway

Pigs are extremely intelligent animals (around the same brains as 4-year-old children) and have even been known to escape abbatoirs, in bids for freedom. England has many lovely sanctuaries for rescued pigs including Goodhearted animal sanctuaries and Surge Sanctuary where animals can live out the rest of their lives in peace.

The best way to help pigs is simply to not eat their meat (pork, bacon, sausages). Moving Mountains sells good vegan sausages (no palm oil). Read more on:

  1. Plant-based alternatives to pork
  2. Plant-based alternative to bacon

The UK slaughters around 10 million pigs annually. Although sow crates are banned (where sows can’t turn around during their 16-week pregnancy), most pigs are still raised on intensive farms with little room to move (to ‘fatten them up’ for more profits) and no bedding. In nature, wild pigs make comfortable nests for themselves (and sing to their piglets!) and travel up to a mile to visit the toilet. They are very clean animals, who wallow in mud simply to keep cool (they have no sweat glands). Many farmed pigs suffer heat stress during transit, and die before reaching the abbatoir.

Male piglets are often castrated to prevent aggression (which can cause infections) then a few weeks after weaning, sows are artificially inseminated to begin their next pregnancy (this carries on for a few years, before they are slaughtered and replaced). Be careful with welfare labels. Compassion in World Farming say only trust ‘certified free-range. Red Tractor Assurance Scheme just means the meat is British (it has no higher welfare rules than other meat).

In the wild, pigs live in small family groups in forests and wetlands, using their snouts to forage for food (which helps disperse seeds) and can easily outrun natural predators, sometimes living up to 20 years. Boars live in the same way. A new concern is ‘micro pigs’ (no such thing, as they often grow to huge sizes and weights, and then end up in rescue sanctuaries, when guardians can’t cope).

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