Animal Friendly Pig FarmingJanuary 12, 2015
Pig farming and pig breeding has been for many years, an excellent way to make money – done right it’s a very profitable enterprise that’s thoroughly rewarding. But over the years there has been plenty of criticism of the pig farming industry, practices and animal welfare.
The Concerns & Problems With Pig Farming
There are a few issues with pig farming that have reared their ugly head over the years. The first is the same problem you’ll see in any animal related breeding undertakings. People were (perhaps fairly) complaining about animal welfare and the way animals were being treated.
This criticism is often leveraged at businesses and farmers who are trying to cut costs by rearing animals in a battery farm style – i.e. unnaturally restricting animals in claustrophobic pens with no room to move, food and drinks troughs, a place to defecate and not much else. Harsh lighting, poor ventilation and miserable conditions naturally lead to unhappy animals but also kept costs down while producing large quantities of pigs for sale.
Pigs reared in this environment are obviously miserable – often chewing off tails of their ‘cell’ mates and wallowing in sadness. The end result of this process is cheap, disappointing meat and a lot of criticism.
There are also a number of issues in terms of health concerns related to intensive and mass-produced pig farming. These are mostly due to the nature of the pig themselves. Pigs give off large quantities of gas both from passing wind and from their manure which have been shown to lead to health problems in humans from simple headaches through to flu-like symptoms and even permanent lung and respiratory issues.
Without proper ventilation and safety precautions, these problems can (and have) cause(d) serious health problems for employees and farmers. If not handled carefully, large farms can also have a negative impact on surrounding neighbours and businesses.
Similar problems and environmental concerns also arise from improperly handled pig manure and run-off. If this is not carefully managed it can lead to pollution of the local environment, especially nearby rivers, streams and lakes – many of which have had their native fish killed off because of the nutrient overload caused by excessive pig manure.
The Logic of Intensive Farming
Although there are certain advantages to forced indoor pig rearing (for example, temperatures can be maintained to prevent and minimise deaths and pigs can be prevented from harming themselves via prolonged exposure to sunshine) an outdoor breeding practice is generally much more productive and healthy for the pigs and results in a much happier pig and a better meat as a result.
Why Free Range Farming is Preferable
It doesn’t take much to see that organic and free range pig farming is certainly preferable to intensive indoor farming that is essentially harmful to the pigs, the people managing them and the surrounding environment.
Free range pig farming provides a more natural environment for the pigs to grow and reproduce in. With room to roam, roll and root, as well as a soft bed of hay to lay in and a small group of fellow pigs to settle with, pigs are naturally much happier. Happy pigs naturally lead to a better, tastier meat and a better produce. Happy pigs are less likely to suffer from health problems and issues that would normally be a problem with intensive farming – such as ventilation and muck clearing are much easier to deal with or not a problem at all.
That’s not to say that there aren’t issues with raising pigs outside and giving them the room to roam – for example, feed loss is often an issue e.g. pig feed is often wasted or stolen by other animals (especially birds). But there are ways around this sort of problem as well. Practice, experience and education helps the best pig farmers to properly manage their pigs without unnecessary waste and lead to a good quality meat that can be sold on for a healthy profit.
Raising pigs in an outdoor environment is a thoroughly rewarding undertaking and is far less criticised generally. This sort of pig breeding has a reduced impact on the environment, the people carrying out the work and the pigs themselves. It’s generally more acceptable and much more profitable than most businesses/farmers realise.
To find out more about pig farming and how to run a pig farming business profitably, ethically and simply, consider something like the Fresh Start Pig Academy – an initiative designed specifically to support people who are looking into moving into pig farming with knowledge and support.