1. Animal Cruelty Industrial farming is appallingly abusive to animals. Pigs. In America, nine-tenths of pregnant sows live in “gestation crates. ” These pens are so small that the animals can barely move. When the sows are first crated, they may flail around, in an attempt to get out. But soon they give up. Crated pigs often show signs of depression: they engage meaningless, repetitive behavior, like chewing the air or biting the bars of the stall. The sows live like this for four months. Gestation crates will be phased out in Europe by the end of 2012, but they will still be used in America.1 In nature, pigs nurse their young for about thirteen weeks. But in industrial farms, piglets are taken from their mothers after about ten days. Because the piglets are weaned prematurely, they develop a lifelong craving to suck and chew. But the farmers don’t want them sucking and chewing on other pigs’ tails. So the growers routinely snip off the tails of all their pigs. They do this with a pair of pliers and no anesthetic. However, the whole tail is not removed; a tender stump remains. The point is to render the area sensitive, so the pigs being chewed on will fight back. Which they do.2 Over 113 million pigs are slaughtered each year in America.3 Typically, these pigs are castrated, their needle teeth are clipped, and one of their ears is notched for identification —all without pain relief.4 In nature, pigs spend up to three quarters of their waking hours foraging and exploring their environment.5 But in the factory farms, “tens of thousands of hogs spend their entire lives ignorant of earth or straw or sunshine, crowded together beneath a metal roof standing on metal slats suspended over a septic tank. ”6 Bored, and in constant pain, the pigs must perpetually inhale the fumes of their own waste. These pigs often get sick, and their ill health is exacerbated by the overcrowding. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture compared hog farms containing over 10,000 pigs—which is the norm—with farms containing under 2,000 pigs.
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