How to support higher welfare this year of the pig
Did you know that many products, such as bacon and salami, are made from pork that is produced by pigs that have been raised in conditions that do not meet their needs? The majority of pigs are kept in barren, crowded pens indoors. While sow stall-free is a positive step, it doesn’t guarantee good welfare. In systems that are sow-stall-free, pigs may still be housed in barren conditions, and the sows, or mother pigs, can be confined to farrowing cages for up to two weeks to give birth.
Pork is a popular food. Farmers are committed to raising pigs according to higher standards of animal welfare. We have a role to play as consumers in supporting these farmers. Don’t underestimate your power to make a difference by voting with your wallet.
We think that there are three things about our curly-tailed friend you may not know that make it worthwhile to support higher welfare farming.
Porks are intelligent, curious creatures who enjoy exploration, foraging, and playing. They have a very sensitive snout and love to dig around and explore their environment. Pigs need to have space in order to investigate, play, and forage. Also, they need a place where they can rest and lay comfortably.
Pigs can become aggressive and bored if they are not allowed to express themselves. Pig farmers perform painful procedures such as tail docking and teeth trimming on piglets to reduce injuries.
Pigs love to roll in the mud for a very clever reason!
The saying ‘happy like a pig in the mud’ comes from a fact: pigs love to wallow around in mud. This is done for many different reasons.
A wallow is an area of muddy water that a pig will dig into and then cover himself in.
By wallowing and coating the pigs with mud, they are protected from external parasites and sunburn. Most pigs wallow together if they can.
Pigs enjoy company
When given the right conditions, pigs can lead a rich social life and form strong bonds.
It’s also important to consider the familiarity of the pigs, their sizes, and the number of them. Also, make sure that the environment allows for space and time to play and rest so they don’t get aggressive.
What to look out for when supporting higher welfare
On RSPCA-approved farms, the pigs’ wellbeing is always a priority. RSPCA-approved pork is produced by pigs that are allowed to move and roam freely, allowing them to exercise, socialize, and forage. All pigs are provided with bedding of high quality so they can rest comfortably, and sows can build nests for their young. RSPCA-approved farms do not allow painful procedures like teeth clipping and tail docking.
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standard for pigs takes into consideration the natural behavior of pigs and ensures that housing and husbandry on farms improve pig welfare. RSPCA approval also includes regular assessments on farms by assessors. They visit farms twice a month (with unscheduled additional visits) to ensure compliance.