Factory farmed pigs


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Canada raises more than 21 million pigs a year for domestic slaughter. 5.6 million more were exported in 2016. The vast majority of these animals are raised on factory farms, where they live on concrete or slatted floors in crowded, barren pens in buildings with no windows. The young animals are deprived of the opportunity to perform most of their natural behaviours.

Shortly after birth, the piglets’ teeth are clipped to prevent them biting the sow’s udder, and one another, in the farrowing (birthing) crate. The young males are castrated.

The barn environment for the pigs’ “grow-out” causes respiratory problems for both pigs and workers due to ammonia from the animals’ waste. The workers wear masks to combat it, but the pigs must live in it 24 hours a day.

The animals are slaughtered at about 250 pounds, or six months old, though their natural life span is 12-15 years. Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are the largest pig producing and slaughtering provinces.

Pigs may be legally transported to slaughter up to 36 hours without food, water or rest, plus a five-hour food withdrawal prior to loading. When pigs are exported to the U.S., transport times may be even longer because the clock returns to zero when they cross the border. In the EU, trips longer than eight hours require vehicles to have ventilation and temperature monitoring equipment. These amenities are not required in Canadian transport vehicles.

Transport is hard on pigs since they are prone to stress and travel sickness. They must stand in their own waste during the journey, which is especially difficult on them since they have a much keener sense of smell than humans do.

At slaughter, pigs are moved through a chute where workers stun them using one of three methods: electrical, carbon dioxide gassing or captive bolt pistols. These methods are intended to render the animal unconscious for bleeding out (death) before their bodies end up in a scalding tank. There have been reports of pigs ending up in this tank still conscious.

What you can do: Eliminate or reduce the pork you eat, and replace it with plant-based foods.

Letter to Canadian grocers about pig castration

Read the letter co-signed by ten Canadian and European organizations. (February 22, 2010)

CCFA's letter to major Canadian grocers about ending surgical castration of pigs in Canada

October, 2011