The Miserable Life of a Mother Pig

Posted 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 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.


Farrowing crate. (© Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals)

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 petition or giving him a call at 609-292-6000.

Take Action Button

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.

45 thoughts on “The Miserable Life of a Mother Pig

  1. Michael Gartner says:

    The pig in crates is vile and disgusting

  2. Lisa Denning says:

    This is so cruel I cannot believe anyone could do such a horrific act to a sweet animal. What is wrong with people today?! This needs to stop ASAP!

  3. Betty Ann Kosherzenko says:

    This is beyond cruel. Who thinks things like this up. Why can’t animals just be animals like they used to be. Why do we need to confine them this way, so unfair, so unjust and just plain cruel.

  4. JEnnie Robertson says:

    You’ve got to end this inhumane treatment of animals. This is the 21st century. Let’s be more human. Show some compassion!

  5. JEnnie Robertson says:

    This is inhumane!

  6. Lisa says:

    this shouldn’t be happening

  7. Verone Ullenius says:

    This is inhumane

  8. ben wolf necklace says:

    This is sad cruel and inexcusable. ..
    it needs to stop.

  9. Joanie Blankenship says:

    Makes me sick that such a practice is allowed.

  10. Gayle Brooks says:

    this is vile barbaric treatment and needs to be stopped straight away no animal should be treated in this way

  11. Tove Moen Gjøtterud says:

    This is so wrong! All animals should be allowed to move. A mother pig must have space to take care of her babies in a natural way. This is animal cruelty and must stop! Farmers should at least give animals a good life before slaughtering them! Farm factories is only for more profit, it’s disgusting!

  12. Bev doble says:

    How terrible to live a life like that shame on the human race

  13. Dodi says:

    It is people like you and I that keep these institutions functioning. As long as we consume there will be a need to supply. Let’s stop this insanity and cruelty. I am transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. For those who do not want to transition at least demand that this cruel and disgusting way to treat an animal ENDS !!

  14. harry says:

    This is cruel and absolutely heartbreaking.

  15. Christine Stetson says:

    Dear Governor,
    Kindly make this a law. They are with us a short time, please show mercy and make that period tolerable. Thank you

  16. This is so heartbreaking!!! Isnt it bad enough that they are slaughtered?? Cant ppl just let these babies live a life?! Ignorant ppl!! This is so inhumane!! ALL animals feel pain and emotion! Please, please, please, stop this!!!! :((((

  17. Valerie Denaro-Cully says:

    This is the most repulsive, barbaric thing I’ve ever seen, it needs to stop now!

  18. Gail Smith says:

    Pigs are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, they feel pain, they feel misery, but also feel joy and happiness… Please please stop this horrible way to farm… There has to be a better way… Stop the greed!

  19. Jessika Gerondale says:

    No living creature should endure this treatment. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to stop eating meat, but at the very least, they should be treated with some respect up until they end up on someone’s plate. I stopped eating meat once I became aware of where my food comes from and I feel better than ever and have tons of energy!

  20. Lesley Gaither says:

    please have mercy on those pigs, you’d want the same done for you.

  21. Sandy Flynn says:

    why is duch a practice being allowed. Who comes up with such cruel and barbaric processes. Please outlaw this practice. Where is the humanity?

  22. Sandy Flynn says:

    Please outlaw this practice. There has to be a humane way to reach the same goal.

  23. Vicky says:

    Nightmare inhumane al animals need to run free the people who do this are greedy they should be put in crates I’m so done w/ our government we the people need to start taking into our own hands protest loud and hard to stop this greed

  24. alejandra aleman says:

    OMG this is so cruel. Humans are ignorant beasts. Please stop this.

  25. Jody Brooks says:

    This is absolutely heartbreaking, these prescious babies need to be saved. They don’t deserve this inhumane treatment.
    Animal abuse needs to end!
    I’m disgusted so called humans can abuse and torture animals with no remorse.

  26. Bobby says:

    i disagree with this practice, but you have to stop saying it is inhumane. Pigs are not human.

  27. jasprit mangat says:

    this cruelty should be be stopped and banned…and animals should be treated equal to human beings.

  28. Belinda Kan says:

    Animals should not live a life of suffering or be exploited! Basic need is to move around!!!

  29. Carla Brauer says:

    Governor we are watching. And don’t forget the next election.

  30. patti says:

    This was a very well written & as a consequence is easier to share across social media. Just the right type of imagery & lots of factual, albeit horrid information. So many people just don’t know & won’t read anything with horror pictures. I am grateful for all you do.

  31. Victoria Frost says:

    This I simply inexcusable and unacceptable.

  32. Nicky able says:

    Please stop this! Its cruel beyond belief! :((

  33. susan dandorf says:

    I gave up all PORK PRODUTS primarily for this reason, the treatment of a gentle living creature that has feelings and loves … this treat is inhuman, monstrous, wish people would pay more attention and care

  34. Donna Lewis says:

    It is bad enough that they eventually get slaughtered, please let them have a little bit of life first, for God’s sake!!! Sign the f*ing bill!!!!!!

  35. Mary Shire says:

    Surely there must be a more humane way to raise pigs!!

  36. Sis Hilbus says:

    That is a terrible life for anything to live with. This needs to change.

  37. Mellinger Severine says:

    I stopped eat meat. And i want a end of all this industrial farms. No words to such cruaty! Close all this farms!

  38. sibyl walski says:

    Governor Christie needs to do the altruistic thing, for once, and put the suffering of sentient creatures above his politicial ambitions. He promised IOWA’s voters he would veto this, even though 983% of NJ voters approved the end of these torture devices. Why? Iowa is amonth the first of the presidential caucuses and they have 20 million pigs in these conditions.

    1. sibyl walski says:

      correction: 93% of NJ voters voted to end this practice.

  39. San Billings says:

    What kind of human animals are these pig farmers anyway? I can’t stand it. And I bet they are in Church every moment the doors are open. This makes me violently ill. Change the laws America!

  40. Jamie Beasley says:

    This is why I stopped eating meat! It makes me sick!

  41. Alaniz Bernal says:

    Humans are fed by the life and labor of unfortunate animals. For how long we continue to believe that only by their meat we are meant to live? We lavished our unsatisfiable taste for meat from whom struggling to live.

  42. where is your heart? Free all pugs…do not crate them. They r like humane humans. That is so heartbreaking to crate them with no room. Infact those who do this, pls just kill yrselves today. Ty me n the pigs!

  43. Mary-Anne says:

    What kind of people use these evil devices that torture animals? How do you sleep at night? Why don’t you open your doors wide to the public and give public tours so that everyone can see what goes on inside your “farms”?

  44. Tina Rapp says:

    This is beyond sick!

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