The Miserable Life of a Mother PigPosted by Kelly Levenda, Staff Attorney on November 19, 2014
Gestation crates are inhumane because pregnant pigs suffer severe mental and physical abuse when confined to them. Gestation crates are banned for their cruelty in some states, and a ban has just passed in New Jersey and awaits the Governor’s signature.
What is a Gestation Crate?
Gestation crates are metal crates that are only slightly larger than the pregnant pig’s body. They are so small that she cannot turn around or lie down comfortably. Most pigs raised in intensive confinement are kept in gestation crates for most of their pregnancy, which lasts almost four months. A few days before the pig gives birth, she is moved into a farrowing crate, which has a separate area for her piglets, and is slightly wider so she can lie down on her side to nurse. After the piglets are weaned, the pig is artificially inseminated again, and returned to the gestation crate. Pigs that are bred spend almost their whole lives confined to these crates, completely denied of unrestricted movement.
Pigs Suffer in Gestation Crates
Pigs are sensitive, intelligent, and social animals who can feel pain and suffer, similar to humans and other animals like dogs and cats. Pigs confined to crates suffer mentally from severe frustration because they are restricted from performing basically all natural behaviors such as foraging, exploring their surroundings, and socializing with other pigs. Pigs in crates spend 70-80% of their time forced to lie inactive, compared to typical pigs who spend only 6% of their time resting during daylight hours! Pigs deal with this unrelenting frustration by performing stereotypic behaviors, which are repetitive behaviors that serve no function, such as biting the bars of the crate.
Pigs also suffer physically when confined in crates. They endure sores, scratches, cuts, and other wounds from rubbing against the crate that is barely bigger than their own body. They suffer from muscle weakness, foot injuries, joint damage, and lameness. Their eyes and respiratory tracts are irritated from the high level of ammonia released from the pit of urine and feces below the concrete slatted floor.
What You Can Do
Tell Governor Christie, who vetoed the ban when it previously passed, to sign S. 998, which outlaws gestation crates in New Jersey by signing the Change.org petition or giving him a call at 609-292-6000.
Don’t economically support the pork industry that intensively confines mother pigs by opting for a plant-based diet. Educate family and friends about the issue.