Culture

Systemic sex abuse discovered on UK factory farms

Exposed - human perverts molesting animals on an industrial scale

A female pig is a beautiful thing.

She is sentient, caring, alert, alive and fierce. In the wild, she will choose her mate carefully after due time allocated for mating rituals. In UK factory farms she will be impregnated repeatedly by humans until her body fails to produce litters of 10 or more piglets over twice a year. The most intimate aspects of her existence are torn open and turned over to the mass production of cheap meat.

After working for a year for a UK based animal welfare charity it was time for some further education. All staff are expected to be initiated by touring: good farms, less good farms and the worst - animal factories where meat is produced as cheaply as possible with the minimum possible spent on animal welfare. I didn’t need the initiation. I love animals and have spent my life working to protect them but, I trusted the process and breathed deeply to steady myself as I shuffled off the coach with my more experienced colleagues leading the way. The trip worked. I have never been more determined to help animals.

I had been dreading visiting the factory farm for months. Nothing could prepare me for the full horror. By the time I left I was a weeping mess. I had seen appalling cruelty executed remorselessly on generations of animals crammed into grubby concrete stalls. What tore at my heart was the desperation in their eyes. Their constant state of distress was obvious. Much of my Grandmother’s family was killed by the Nazis, so I do not casually invoke the holocaust, but the efficiency of the torment of these pigs and the intensity of their suffering can only be compared to a concentration camp.

A typical factory farm

We were greeted by a factory employee who escorted us along the outside of the building. We could peer in through grimy windows. Large, young pigs were jostling against each other in their miserable prison cells. Occasionally there would be a scuffle and loud screeching. The frustrated animals had nothing to do. There was no: mud to root in; plant material to nest with - no nature at all. These animals can carry out none of their natural behaviours. They are trapped in an eternal hell created by humans and now I was being taken on a guided tour. I felt profoundly sick.

Halfway along the giant warehouse there was an entrance. As we walked in, I grimaced as I hit a visceral wall of smell and noise. I was physically repulsed as if by a force field. I gagged and stepped forward into the acrid stench. The heat, smell and noise was overwhelming. The sticky ammonia-drenched air was inescapably close and the animal’s piercing screeches were weirdly human-like and unsettling. The pigs are kept perpetually at an unnaturally high density so they become aggressive and bite each other. The cost effective solution the monsters that run these places have come up with is to cut the animal’s tails off and grind down their teeth (without anaesthetic) to reduce the damage to the meat. Occasionally, fights break out in the stalls and you hear a pig scream as it is bitten by another animal driven mad by boredom.

Now we came to the worst bit. To maximise profit the animals are grown as quickly as possible so that they can be slaughtered at six months old. As soon as they are old enough to survive (3-4 weeks), the piglets are wrenched away from their mothers. These intelligent baby mammals will be deep into the bonding process when suddenly they are dumped into a stall which will be all they know until death.

Their mothers are not given time to grieve. They are dragged back around and crammed back into the sow stalls which look like medieval torture implements. The metal cage is clamped around them. Hanging from steel girders above each machine is a plastic sack like an IV drip. We were told these contain semen extracted from a sad lonely male pig. Shortly after she is locked down again, humans will invade the grieving mother and force her back into pregnancy with steel implements. The man giving the tour had a pallid face and sunken eyes. I wondered if he gets nightmares.

Farrowing crates

Following this the mother pigs are locked up in farrowing crates. They cannot move but they can gnaw at a bar in front of them to vent the agonising frustration that must set in as the slow days grind by. Wild pigs can live to be 10–14 years old. A breeding sow on a factory farm will be killed at around three years after their peak productivity fades after being repeatedly ravaged producing six litters, back to back, without a break.

Over 1 billion pigs are killed globally every year. Of these, over 99% never experience nature and never leave the confines of their concrete cells. To feed them, wild habitat somewhere else must be turned into feed. The global economy is so debased and robotic it fails to register the priceless beauty of our living world. It sees rainforest and calculates a better return turning it into plantations to create fodder to feed tortured animals on factory farms on the other side of the world. If you eat the meat - you are paying to chop down the trees.

Brazilian rainforest on the left with all its biodiversity is chopped to make soya plantations on the right

Soya production has risen annually following global demand up to approximately 350 million tons. Don’t blame tofu or healthy milk. Nearly all (over 90%) of this soya is used to fatten factory farmed animals. As the rainforest is lost, along with the creatures within it, our wild world loses capacity to produce oxygen, regulate the climate and circulate water. The forest fires currently ravaging our planet’s last wild places escalate our crisis to beyond emergency. These are the last moments available to us to right the grievous wrong we are perpetrating on our fellow earthlings, the natural world and future generations.

If humans cannot love and care for other animals there is no hope of saving the amazon rainforest and maintaining the global ecological systems we need to sustain civilisation. The vicious cruelty inflicted on factory farmed animals is the same dull violence flattening the rainforests and burning our world. As we put factory farmed meat into our mouths we connect our bodies to the very machine that threatens to end humanity. Cheap meat is the noose we hang around our necks.

I stared in disbelief at the uncaring face of the factory farm worker but his determined ignorance is exactly the same as that of anyone person buying cheap pork. Factory farming made sense to economists, corporate goons and sick money men but it savages all decent people hold dear. At a time of acute climate emergency there is no longer any defence for this grotesque savagery.

Factory farming must end.

—-

Some things we can all do now:

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