More than 213,000 people have signed up for the cause to get mother pigs out their cages and into groups. We are grateful! It is essential to end confinement, but it is not enough. All pigs deserve better lives.
Factory-farm pigs can become extremely bored and frustrated. They need to be free from confinement and have the opportunity to explore the world. Piglets need enrichment as a part of learning, playing and adapting to their new lives.
Factory-farmed pork still exhibits wild behaviors, so they spend about 25% of their time foraging for food or looking for it.
They are fed a concentrated diet that provides all their nutritional requirements. This is a fast food which they can eat in just 15 minutes. Factory farms don’t require them to forage for food, so it’s important that they are still able forage and fulfill their behavioral needs.
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Sensitivity to smell
Pigs use their sense of smell to find food because it is their most keen sense. Pigs are keen to feel, smell and chew everything possible. However, they don’t have much to satisfy their hunger in a concrete pen.
Lack of enrichment can lead to boredom, stress, and frustration that can lead to repetitive, abnormal behavior.
Pigs exhibit repetitive behaviors, just like a pacing tiger in a zoo or an elephant moving in a zoo. This is a sign of daily stress and deprived natural behaviours.
Also, pigs can’sham chew’ which is repetitive chewing without food or biting bars, tails, or any other part of another pig. This can cause injury, fighting, infection, and even death.
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It is essential to enrich your life.
Enrichment is a practical and essential solution that allows pigs be pigs.
Any material that encourages and stimulates natural behavior can be considered enrichment. Straw bedding can be a great way to enrich your life. It allows you to explore, comfort, and add fibre.
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Collaboration with farmers and producers
Straw is sometimes not readily available in certain countries. Therefore, famers must be creative and find other materials.
This need for innovation in materials has been a reality in Thailand, China, and Brazil. My colleagues and I have also experienced it in Brazil. We collaborated with top producers to enrich the product and monitor its benefits. Additionally, we developed practical guidance for other people.
We help farmers and producers understand the importance of enrichment. For example, materials should be appealing, chewable, and edible. To keep pigs interested, we also offer tips on how to place enrichment materials and how to rotate them.
Farmers have the option to test various materials that they can access sustainably. Some farmers in Asia use rice shells or sand as bedding. They also have access to edible grasses, wood, branches, trees, wood, and cabbages. You can also get chewable toys from them – they can look very similar to the toys your dog enjoys!
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Living a life that is worth living
As we try to enrich our lives in meaningful ways, let’s not forget about the pigs.
All pigs, regardless of whether they are mothers in groups or nesting before giving birth, curious growers or male breeders or pregnant mothers, need to forage and explore their natural behaviours.
We are asking farmers and producers for enrichment to factory-farmed pork. Learn more about the Raise Pigs Right campaign and how you can get involved.