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This Little Piggy Cried All the Way Home

The HSUS launches a campaign to stop hog factory farming

The HSUS launches a campaign to stop hog factory farming

Porky Pig, one of the most celebrated porcine animals of our time, lived a pretty swank life, facing no greater dilemma than deciding what tie to wear.

He was a hog of his era, a time when small farms were the order of the day and animals were less likely to be treated like parts on an assembly line.

Porky’s modern-day counterparts are not so lucky. Most are born to a world of huge factory farms with little regard for animal comfort or well-being. That’s why The HSUS has launched Halt Hog Factories, a new campaign to educate the public about the animal suffering, human health risks, and environmental dangers associated with hog factories.

Unlike the family farms many of us grew up on, hog factories are often run by large corporations, with profit as the most important goal. As a result, thousands of hogs are raised in the smallest available space. Sows are confined to gestation crates with little room to move around. As soon as possible after birth, piglets are taken away from the sow. The female pig is repeatedly forced into pregnancy so factory farmers can get as much meat as they can out of one animal.

“Pigs in confinement systems on factory farms are denied many of their most basic physical and behavioral needs, including freedom of movement and the ability to interact with other animals,” says David Kuemmerle, The HSUS’s program manager for Farm Animals and Sustainable Agriculture.

Porky isn’t the only one affected by the intensive confinement systems. Having a hog factory in your neighborhood poses serious human health and environmental risks. Hog factory sewage produces a constant odor; the bulk of the waste is usually held in tanks that can leak into the ground and eventually into the drinking water.

“[If] you have a confinement system of 2,000 hogs, they produce more waste per day than a town of 2,000 people,” says Amy Suarez, director of The HSUS’s Midwest Regional Office.

The constant stench and tainted groundwater created by hog factory farms can impoverish small communities, diminishing property values near the factories. Family farms are put out of business when customers turn to the factories that produce more meat at lower prices.

Did You Know ...

... that hogs enjoy being scratched behind the ears and shoulders and, at the touch of your hand, will grunt contentedly and roll over for a belly rub?

... that they are unable to sweat, so they bathe in mud to cool off and to protect their skin from sun and insects?

... that they prefer water to mud and are good swimmers?

... that a pig’s sense of smell is so keen that the animal is trained in France to unearth truffles, edible fungi that grow underground?

... that they have an elaborate courtship ritual, including a song between males and females?

... that two or more sows and their babies usually join together in an extended family, with particularly close friendships developing between sows?

... that happy pigs rest for over 82% of the day?

But there are ways citizens can help the animals and the community. “The key to success on hitting these corporations is hitting them on many fronts,” says Suarez, who worked on a hog factory situation in a small town near Billings, Montana, a few years ago. A 2,000-sow farm wanted to expand its operations, but citizens were opposed. Suarez joined together with local environmental organizations, faith-based groups, and clubs such as the sports fishing group to inform the community of the risks involved in allowing the hog factory’s expansion. Members of the community called in environmental and rural-economy experts to educate people about the dangers involved in having a hog factory next door. As educated citizens, local residents were able to defeat the expansion proposal.

Efforts in your area can be made to halt the pain and suffering of hog factory farms. “We feel that an educated consumer can be a more compassionate consumer,” says Kuemmerle. “By not purchasing products that come from factory farms, consumers can send a message to producers that they do care about humane treatment for animals.” Unless a product is labeled as “free-ranging,” “pasture-raised,” and/or “organic,” it’s a pretty safe bet that it has come from a factory farm.

Animal shelters can be a valuable resource for raising awareness in their communities. Shelter staff can educate themselves about the human and animal health hazards and then educate the public. A simple sticker in your office window opposing factory farms or a pamphlet available to your visitors can go a long way toward advocating the humane treatment of farm animals in your community. The HSUS has created static-cling window decals (shown above) and educational materials just for that purpose; included among the materials is a friendly “calling card” that diners can leave at restaurants to discourage proprietors from buying and selling products that come from hogs raised on factory farms.

Shelters can request a free sample of these materials by contacting The HSUS’s Farm Animals section at 202-452-1100 or farmanimals@hsus.org.

 

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