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Factory Farmed Pigs

PigsPigs are highly social, intelligent, and sentient animals. They are curious, playful, and affectionate creatures who form small family groups of usually one boar and a couple sows along with juveniles from earlier litters. They are considered as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than dogs. Factory farmed pigs suffer extreme physical and psychological trauma and depravation.

How Life Begins for Factory-Farmed Pig

  • Approximately 105 million pigs raised yearly for slaughter on factory farms.
  • Breeding sows (female pigs who produce multiple litters a year) are either artificially inseminated or confined to racks to breed with a male pig.
  • Once impregnated, the sows are confined to gestation crates, typically 2’x7’, for up to four months until their offspring are born.
  • The floors of these crates are slatted so that urine and feces can fall through. There is no bedding, even straw, for the animals to rest on.

Farrowing Crates

  • Sows and their piglets are moved to farrowing crates, similar to gestation crates only smaller.
  • The sow remains on her side and cannot nuzzle her babies.
  • There is no bedding, even straw, for the animals to rest on.
  • Piglets get trapped in the floor slats and between the sow’s body and crate bars and cannot properly nurse.


  • After several weeks in the farrowing crates, the piglets are removed to what is called the nursery, then a finishing crate
  • Breeding sows return to the racks and are again impregnated. They are slaughtered after approximately three to four years.
  • Factory-farmed pigs are slaughtered typically between six and ten months, depending on what the flesh will be used for (bacon, sausages, pork, etc.).
  • Slaughtered pigs are stunned by an electrical gun or other devise prior to having their throats slit.

Effects of Life on a Factory Farm

  • To avoid the behavior known as tail-biting, newborn piglets have their tails docked near the base without the use of anesthesia.
  • Newborn piglets often have their ears notched and teeth removed, again without anesthesia.
  • Animals confined in small spaces will engage in bar-biting, and sham chewing, which is the repetitive chewing of nothing.
  • Due to close-quarter confinement and unsanitary living conditions, pigs suffer from a variety of diseases.
  • One disease is porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), another is swine influenza virus (SIV), and yet another is salmonellosis. The latter two diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans.

How You Can Help Factory Farmed Pigs

  • Substitute veggie and soy-based products for bacon, sausage, hotdogs, etc.
  • Find a vegetarian group in your area and attend a meeting.
  • Visit a farm sanctuary and get know the sentient creature the pig truly is.
  • Learn more about factory farming and educate others.
  • Support legislation to require stricter regulation and enforcement of animal farming welfare and treatment laws.
  • Download and print or mail order NHES’ Factory Farms brochure to distribute in your community.
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