For the past two years, the Animal Rights Alliance has filmed the conditions inside one hundred pig farms in Sweden. The extensive material reveals a shocking abuse of animals. The filming investigators found animals in agony, animals covered by feces, animals with deep wounds and infections, paralyzed animals, dead and sometimes rotten bodies inside the boxes. 94 of the farms – around a tenth of the total in Sweden – are now being reported to the police for breaking several laws. Below are some examples of what was found.
- 94 % of the farms lacked straw. According to the law, pigs should have enough straw to satisfy their need for both "comfort and stimulation" (foraging is a deep borne instinct in all pigs, and access to straw is crucial for sows building nests).
- At 20% of the farms, there were sows kept in sow stalls – meaning they were locked in a small cage-like structure where they can only lay and stand, with not enough space to turn around. This is illegal in Sweden.
- The law states that animals should be kept “satisfyingly clean” but in two thirds of the farms the pigs were dirty or very dirty. This often meant they were sitting and lying in their own excrements. Many of these boxes had obviously not been cleaned for a long time.
- In 40% of the farms the film team found dead animals – both outside and inside of the boxes. Some of them had been left to rot and other pigs were eating the cadaver.
- The industry claims that the problem with pigs biting each other’s tails doesn’t exist in Sweden; since the pigs have enough space and straw for stimulation they don’t need to use each other for chewing material. This is proved false – at 50 % of the farms the investigators found tail biting present, with pigs having large and often infected wounds or missing their tails altogether.
- The animal welfare law states that animals should be protected against “unnecessary suffering” – but at 84% of the pig farms the investigators found severely ill and wounded pigs.
- Animals that aren’t allowed expression of their natural behavior – and deep instincts – sometimes develop abnormal behaviours (including what is called stereotypical behavior like repeated biting of the iron barren). Abnormal behaviours was observed at 55% of the farms.
3 000 000 pigs are slaughtered every year in Sweden, but few consumers are aware of the reality behind products as pork, ham and sausages. The breeding of pigs is – next to broiler farms - one of the most industrialized ways of keeping animals in Sweden. The Animal Rights Alliance decided to document the everyday life of the pigs, in order to inform the public.
Pigs are known to be social, active and intelligent creatures and pigs in the wild would spend a lot of their time discovering the environment, rooting, grazing and building their communal nesting place. They would use a dunging area well away from their sleeping area. At pig farms they are deprived all this and the animals are put in total confinement. Piglets are born on concrete and 99 % of them are never let out - they live their entire life on concrete. Ten pigs share nine square meters, and there is absolutely nothing for them to do - apart from lying down, fighting with each other (which many frequently do due to stress and lack of stimuli) and wait for the next meal.
According to Swedish laws, animals should be treated well and have the ability to express their natural behavior. They should be cared for and be protected against any unnecessary suffering. The Swedish animal welfare law is often named the most radical in the world and supporters of the animal industry use it to legitimize their business. The Animal Rights Alliance’s documentation shows that the animal welfare law is not enough to protect the pigs. When the author Astrid Lindgren criticized intensive breeding of pigs 25 years ago, she was finally given the new (from 1988) animal welfare law for her 80th birthday. The present made her upset, since she could foresee that its relevance for the pigs would be confined to paper. Still, in contemporary times, pigs live in conditions that now not only break the law, but break the basic principles of a humane society: sentient beings are caused intense suffering, are deprived all value and killed because of profit and costume.
Pigs can scream – and they do (the sound volume in pig farms is often exceeding the legal maximum limit, 65 dbA), and we can choose to be compassionate and listen, or to turn away. With this extensive documentation we hope that every person in Sweden will have enough information to make an active choice whether to support the cruelty or not. This is what the reality behind meat products looks like. Nobody should be able to claim that they “didn’t know”.
Do you want to know more or to help out? You are most welcome to join us in our work for the pigs! For more information on how to switch to a veggie diet, visit any of the links below with information and inspiration or send us an email and we will guide you through the jungle of veggie food.