Find out what really happens before the pigs become your breakfast, from sow stalls and farrowing crates to what's wrong with free range.
Boars, or male pigs, used for the artificial insemination or mating with female pigs are often kept locked in cages similar to sow stalls where the only times they are let out is to mate or for the bi-weekly exercise times which are mandated by the code of practice. This confinement and continual sexual exploitation takes a toll on the male pigs.
In nature, sows would not only choose their mate and when to breed, but they would move to a private location, build a nest and prepare for their new arrivals. Viewed merely as 'bacon incubators' by the industry, these mothers are deprived of every experience and decision that is important to their lives.
Whilst pigs can live to around 15 years of age, female breeding pigs barely live past 2 or 3 years of age. They often die or are culled due to injuries they have incurred as a result of continuous forced impregnation, birthing and feeding of young. According to the Faculty of Veterinarians at the University of Sydney “major causes of sow death include bladder and kidney infections, gastric accidents (twists, bloat, and stomach ulcers), heart failure/heat stroke, blood poisoning (septicemia) and uterine prolapses.” If they manage to survive the several years of laborious and monotonous existence they are then killed as their fertility declines and they are no longer deemed profitable.
There are over 260,000 female pigs in Australia housed on about 2000 farms (Australian Pig Annual). The accepted combined death rates of female breeding pigs (both natural and via euthanasia) is 9% per year (Faculty of Veterinarians at the University of Sydney).
Artificial insemination, the manual collection an insertion of semen from a male pig into a female pig is used by many operators in the pig industry.
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