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Raising Pigs Outside -- isn't that how it's always done?

What do you think about when you think of a pig farm?  If you are like the average consumer you might envision a group of pigs living in mud, running around in a fenced yard, eating table scraps.  You might even think about how stinky the pigs are. However, what most consumers don't think about is that most pigs never see the sun their entire lives, never mind mud.

Here is a video of a very typical pig farm. 

I chose this video because it was produced by the producer themselves.  If you want to see more graphic video of pig farms, simply go to youtube and type in pig farm -- you will see some much less pretty places.  

I thought I might elaborate on some of the terms they used just for clarity

"farrowing stall (crate)" -- the mother pig stays in this area 24 hours a day.  The crate is designed to not allow the mother to turn around or move, therefore ensuring that the piglets are safe.  The stalls are typically 7 feet long by 3 feet wide.   She will stay in these stalls until the babies are weaned at 21 days.  She will then be rebred and put into a gestation crate.  A smaller crate -- only 2 feet wide -- that she will live in 24 hours a day until she has her next litter.

"closely monitor barn temperature to ensure optimal conditions"  -- Industrial pig barns are kept abnormally warm 24 hours a day to increase growth on the pigs.  The closer to body temp the air is kept -- the less calories that are spent by the pigs body heating itself.  One problem with this is that it leads to lots of bacterial growth.  Don't worry they have thought of that too....

"nutritious feed" -- industrial pig food is primarily grain based, but also includes a daily ration of antibiotics  and other supplements such as arsenic and growth hormones.  The arsenic is there to calm the pigs. kill germs and to make the meat more pink by forming abnormal blood vessels through the pigs body. (Relevant fact, doctors use pigs for practice because their muscle and blood vessel structure closely resembles humans.  Also relevant. we can no longer use arsenic to treat the wood we build our decks with because they were worried about it hurting our children, but it is still legal and encouraged to feed it to our food).

"clean comfortable conditions" -- Pigs live their entire lives on concrete and steel grates suspended over shallow manure pits.  These are washed down often and the pigs are often sprayed with caustic chlorine solutions to ensure they stay "clean."

"industry leader in environmental stewardship" -- I guess this is like saying you are the most friendly pirate or the most trustworthy politician.   



There is another way though.

Here is a video of pigs living on pasture.  Eating nutritious food, in clean comfortable conditions, with closely monitored temperature (when it's hot they go to the shade, when its cold they go to the sun).

 Another amazing farmer who raises all hundreds of pigs outdoors in open pastures is Sugar Mountian farm  

Which one do you think most consumers would choose to buy if they had all the information?

This is Farmland's (a Smithfield subsidiary) website home page.  Doesn't quite seem to be an accurate representation of the barn we saw, does it?  I wonder why?

Pork Label


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Reader Comments (1)

So interesting. Thanks for explaining the lingo - their operation is definitely not what they would like us to believe. Great article.

August 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

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