Practical Issues > Factory Farm Index > Pigs-Sheep

A Pig's Life

President Harry Truman stated, "No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs." Most people know very little about these fascinating animals. In fact, pigs are curious and insightful animals thought to have intelligence beyond that of an average 3-year-old human child. They are smarter than dogs and every bit as friendly, loyal, and affectionate. When in their natural surroundings, not on factory farms, they are social, playful, protective animals who bond with each other, make beds, relax in the sun, and cool off in the mud.

Since most people are not that familiar with pigs, you may be surprised to learn that they dream, recognize their names, play video games more effectively than some primates, and lead social lives of a complexity previously observed only in primates.

People who run animal sanctuaries often describe pigs with human characteristics, because they've learned that, like humans, pigs enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.

Pigs Are Friends, Not Food!

Pigs on today's farms are denied their every desire; they never run across sprawling pastures, bask in the sun, breathe fresh air, or do anything else that comes naturally to them. Mother pigs (sows) spend most of their lives in tiny "gestation" crates, which are too small for them to turn around in. They are continually impregnated until they are slaughtered. Piglets are taken away from their distraught mothers after just a few weeks, and their tails are chopped off, the ends of their teeth are snipped off with pliers, and the males are castrated. No painkillers are given to ease their suffering.

Because of improper stunning methods, many pigs are still alive when they are dumped into scalding-hot water, which is intended to remove their hair and soften their skin. When they're killed, male pigs are still babies, only about 6 months old. Since their natural life span is 6 to 9 years, they never mature to enjoy a full life. On any given day in the United States, about 1,000 pigs are killed every hour. The average American meat-eater is responsible for the abuse and deaths of approximately 31 pigs. Actor Cameron Diaz, upon hearing that pigs have the mental capacity of a 3-year-old human child, decided never to eat pigs again, saying "[Eating bacon is] like eating my niece!" Please don't support an industry that abuses these fascinating animals by the billions; click here for a free vegetarian starter kit.

Did You Know?

Scientists and scholars who have studied pigs say that pigs are the smartest animals outside of primates (and pigs even outclassed some primate species in some intellectual areas).

What the Experts Say

Professor Stanley Curtis of Penn State University found that pigs play and excel at joystick-controlled video games. He observed that they are "capable of abstract representation" and "are able to hold an icon in the mind and remember it at a later date."

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Pig Prowess

Like dogs, piglets learn their names by 2 to 3 weeks of age and respond when called.

Pigs prefer water to mud. One woman developed a shower for her pigs, and these astute animals learned to turn it on and off.

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