Common name: Pig
Scientific name: Sus
Pigs are incredibly smart, sensitive, and charismatic animals. Did you know that pigs are as playful as domesticated dogs? They’re also smarter than dogs, said to have the intelligence of a three-year-old child and even enjoy listening to music.
Pigs are very social animals who even snuggle up nose to nose while sleeping if kept in groups. They are very chatty, with a vocabulary of over 20 different sounds. Through high-pitched squeals, pigs can communicate fear, distress, and pain to other pigs, while low grunting signals content.
They also have exceptional senses. Pigs have evolved to have high-frequency hearing and they have an amazing sense of smell thanks to very sensitive noses, but they also see the world very differently from us. This is because their eyes are set on the sides of their head giving them a 310° panoramic view of the world around them.
Pigs don’t have functioning sweat glands, that’s why they love to wallow in mud during the day, to keep nice and cool. Mud also provides the added bonus of protection from the sun. It’s not a messy pig, just a sun-safe pig! But pigs are naturally very clean animals and when given the proper amount of space, will always go to the toilet well away from their feeding and sleeping areas.
They are also much faster than you might expect. An adult pig can run up to 18kph, meaning that they can run a whole kilometre in well under four minutes!
What is the problem with factory farming pigs?
Pigs are one of the most intensively farmed animals in the world. In a factory farm, mother pigs are treated like breeding machines. They often never see daylight and are confined to a cage they can’t even turn around in for most of their life. The pigs are kept alone in these narrow stalls with no enrichment or social contact. Even when feeding her piglets, the mother remains isolated in a gestation cage.
This isolation is cruel and inhumane due to the social nature of pigs. They are segregated in a tiny cage and will give birth to 5 to 8 litters of piglets like this until they are slaughtered.
Piglets face health risks at every stage of their life on a factory farm. Within their first three weeks, piglets are subjected to a number of painful mutilations including:
- Tail docking
- Teeth filing
This is all done without pain relief.
They are separated from their mothers at only 3 weeks old. In the wild, piglets will stay with their mothers for around 10 - 14 weeks. Removing piglets from a mother too early leaves them susceptible to illness and disease. To combat this, farmers feed piglets a slew of antibiotics to prevent illness rather than treat it. Doing so contributes to the growth of superbugs affecting not only the animals but also the people around them and the environment.
How we are helping pigs
World Animal Protection continues to fight for pigs and their welfare and we have seen amazing progress in this fight. China is the largest pork producer in the world, holding over 50% of the world’s pig population. Since 2015 we have been working with Zhejiang Qinglian Food Co. Ltd. and Dexing Food Co. Ltd. to support and encourage programs that promote high standards of welfare for their pigs.
These partnerships are working, in 2017 Quinglian announced it would be moving all mother pigs into group housing by 2025. Both Dexing and Quinglian have responded positively to our welfare recommendations including installing partitions in group pens and providing materials that allow the expression of natural behavior.
Brazil is the fifth largest pig producer in the world with approximately 45 million pigs currently in Brazil. We continue to engage BRF, Brazil’s largest pig producer to ensure they are progressing by moving mother pigs into high- welfare housing by 2026.
Unfortunately, due to the high demand for pork, the industry continues to keep finding ways to produce pigs faster at the cost of the animals’ quality of life. We hope to keep working with retailers, producers, animal welfare bodies and the general public to keep improving the living conditions of these pigs.
How you can help pigs
If you want to help prevent pigs from experiencing the cruelty that they endure in factory farming, you can donate by clicking below. Ultimately, no matter how big or small your donation is, you are helping to change the future of pigs for the better.