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This is Ping, one of more than a billion pigs living in farms all over the globe. Ping has a good life. Although not quite as lucky as free-range pigs, who can root around in fields, she’s still a lot better off than most. And better, free-range conditions are something Ping’s farmer is working towards.
Pigs are ‘social animals’ – it’s very important that they be together. Ping lives indoors, in a spacious pen with a small group of other pigs. They receive plenty of food , water and material like straw which they can root around in – a very important behaviour for pigs.
But Ping is unusual. Most of the world’s pigs are kept in ‘factory’ farms. In these industrial conditions as many as 5,000 pigs live packed together. The pigs become stressed, bored and aggressive, giving each other painful bites.
Industrial pens are often dirty, with no bedding. The flooring is hard , hurting the pigs’ feet.
Things are even worse for female pigs, forced to give birth in narrow stalls that prevent them from even turning around. Some are chained.
Unsurprisingly, animals like this suffer serious health problems, including weak bones, heart damage and infections. They will never see daylight or know what it is to breathe fresh air.
Factory farms are grim environments for pigs. But the problems industrial farms cause don’t stop there – they also damage our world.
Local landscapes cannot cope with the amount of urine and faeces produced. In just one day 5,000 pigs can produce 25 tons of it – imagine how this can pollute the soil and local water supplies.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Animal-friendly farms like Ping’s and Porcícola El Recuerdo in Colombia have surprising benefits…
For example, with clever systems and planning, the farmers employ local people to turn the waste into an affordable fertiliser for nearby farms to use on their crops. Greener and kinder, incomes are generated, animals are cared for, and everyone wins.