Aussie Pigs

Australian pig farming: the inside story

Exposing industry-standard cruelty through investigations into numerous Australian pig farms.

More Information

Over two months in 2012, activists installed cameras and documented cruelty inside Wally's Piggery NSW, just a short drive from Canberra. The footage and photographs were provided to RSPCA NSW, NSW Police, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), who orchestrated a raid on the piggery, however it later became known that the DPI had tipped off the facility about the raid. 53 charges of animal cruelty were eventually laid by the RSPCA but later dropped after pressure from the DPI. 

Following the raid, the material was published and achieved widespread media coverage, causing significant public outrage; the 'Aussie Pigs' campaign had begun. In frantic damage control mode, the industry's peak body Australian Pork Limited tried to claim that Wally's was a one-off, a "rogue operator" - so the activists set out to prove them wrong.

About pig farming

Pig farming in Australia is over 90% factory or intensive farming. In these kinds of farms there is a very routine structure for how each stage of the life of a pig is lived, beginning in what’s called a ‘farrowing crate’ and ending in a ‘finisher’ pen. A ‘farrowing crate’ is a pen roughly 2m by 1.5m in size made usually of cement or wood where mother pigs (sows) and their piglets live while they are suckling. Within that pen there is a metal contraption which restricts the mother to one position, able only to move a few inches forwards or backwards. The piglets move from either feeding with mother, or laying beside her. If the floor is made of cement there is casual manual cleaning of waste from the pigs. If the flooring is wood, there are gaps in the wooden slats for drainage of faeces and urine. The drainage however is often not effective and these gaps can also be traps for piglets’ little bodies and legs.

During this time the piglets will have their teeth cut and their tails removed to avoid frustration-caused aggression injuries on each other, and they will be castrated, all without pain relief. Runt and sick piglets perish here. Corpses are often seen laying in these pens, either left to die or killed by workers. And mother pig very often suffers from pressure sores due to the hard surfaces she lays on continuously.

The next stage in a farmed pig’s life is a weaner pen. Weaner pens are often in the same shed as the farrowing crates or near by. They have much larger areas for holding the piglets from the farrowing crates once they are weaned from their mothers. Again, weaner pens contain mostly cement or wooden flooring, with metal fencing. Similarly, ‘grower’ and ‘finisher’ pens are for keeping pigs as they develop through the last two stages of growth until they are about 6 months of age and sent to slaughter. These pens usually fill entire sheds and are often at a completely different location to where the pigs are born. During these stages pigs become increasingly agitated due to their high intellect, confinement, poor conditions and boredom. They often lash out at each other violently, at times causing serious injuries despite their teeth having been cut as piglets.

After the farrowing crate a mother sow moves to a similarly sized restraint on her own called a ‘sow stall’, or in a group housing area for female pigs. She is then artificially inseminated by farmers and waits in the group housing pen or sow stall during her 4 month pregnancy before being taken back to the farrowing crate to start all over again. This continues for as many times as a pig can physically endure, and still be able to produce a financially viable number of live piglets. The restricted movement causes muscle wastage which quickens their physical decline. To reduce this effect, often as a part of their duty, workers encourage sows to stand up each day by yelling at and hitting the sows. Despite having a wild lifespan of up to 20 years, after 2-3 years the sows are then sent to slaughter.

Read about Australian pig farming in the Knowledgebase

Take Action

Cruelty and abuse are inherent to the animal slaughter industry, including meat, dairy, eggs, fur, wool and leather. Much of this cruelty is legal, due to exemptions in animal welfare legislation that specifically permit acts of cruelty towards farmed animals, that would be illegal if performed on dogs or cats.

The only way to truly stop cruelty to farmed animals is to stop eating them. Take the pledge today to leave animals off your plate and live vegan - be part of a growing movement towards a kinder, more sustainable world, and take a stand against industries that harm and exploit animals.

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