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Today when I came in for lunch after pulling radishes, cutting kale and picking tomatoes all morning I watched RFD-TV as I often do and happened upon a segment showing the Pig Farmer of the Year. The question arises who makes the selection anyway. But what I saw didn't justify the title in my eyes. The beaming lady and a few other employees wandered through the pig barn and occasionally picked up a piglet to stroke it kindly and everybody looked happy. Not so happy were the pigs on slatted concrete floors with nothing to do but eat and drink, and the sows in their gestation crates where they have to spend months every year without being able to even turn around. Joel Salatin would say they cannot live their pigness. This entire system is made to keep as many pigs as possible in as small a space as possible with the least amount of human work. Such a system, no matter how much it has become the norm today, is not animal friendly and I wonder why a farmer who uses it can earn the title mentioned above.
For those not familiar with pigs, find out what they enjoy naturally and then understand how cruel this kind of pig farming is. When we talk about "rural heritage" we have to think about what that means in our relationship to the animals we keep!

NoraWI says 2017-10-06 07:16:31 (CST)

I put that in the same category as "free ranging chickens" who are kept 3,000 strong and "free ranging" inside a barn. Some local Amish have been keeping them like that over the last 3 or 4 years and selling their "free ranging" eggs at exorbitant prices. Same thing with other animal husbandry farm practices such as dairy cattle shut up full time within barns without ever tasting a blade of grass, etc., etc. Salatin condemned many other similar practices which fuel the vegan communities and give farming a bad name.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Jerry from mn says 2017-10-06 13:42:42 (CST)

your right i rasie pig for nimon ranch open pens on dirt in pasture no creates

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2017-10-07 14:46:05 (CST)

While I agree completely with Klaus in terms of the natural "pigness" of the pig, I have a number of farmer-friends who are conventional hog farmers. I have come to realize that they (mainstream society and conventional ag) truly believe the "best", healthiest, safest management of the hogs is the way they do it--slatted floors, farrowing crates, and so forth. Not only do they believe it, but I have realized they are a point. I mean, if we have allowed industry to reach a point where 8000 hogs are kept in one building, they MUST have ways to divide them. They MUST remove tails to keep them from being bitten off and getting infected. They MUST feed preventative antibiotics to maintain health. If farrowing under these conditions, where sows often do not retain their natural instincts, or are unable to escape other sows, then the best thing to do is to use farrowing crates.

That being said, I also like Joel Salatin's point that agriculture and farmers too often "ask the wrong questions." Instead of asking "How do we keep the hogs healthy in these facilities?" we should be asking, "Why keep the hogs in these facilities?" The response I too often hear is "Well, how else can we feed the world?"---that's a discussion I won't even get into now, but I have learned there are other alternatives than a single farmer trying to feed a large mass of people.

We are much smaller scale, of course, raising just a handful of hogs each season, though I have learned from farmer-mentor-types who raise 600-1000 hogs a year in ways similiar to us. Our hogs are used all around our farm--to prepare garden beds, to clean and dam small creek areas, and to compact and seal leaky water areas, and to root up invasive brush. They spend most of their time on our hillsides, acting as hogs were created to. Our sows farrow in a nest of their choice, raise their litters complete with all teeth and tails in tact. If a baby bites mom with those needle teeth, mom turns around and scolds it harshly, so little pig learns to control those sharp little teeth! We love our "Forest Pork" as our farm is known for, and the incredible flavor offered by the abundant acorns, walnuts, goat milk, forage, and so forth in the diet is absolutely incredible!!

Interestingly, a farm like ours would likely never win such an award, as we considered a "danger" to conventional farms. Our pigs and free-ranging poultry are considered a health risk in the spread of disease. Even though our animals are healthy, even our friends have told us they won't return to the their farms without taking bio-security precautions, as they realize our animals could potentially be asymptomatic hosts for some pathogen that their animals may not be immune too. They stand to lose too much. It often leads to some interesting discussions on ways to boost immunity of our livestock, rather than just locking them away in confinement facilities.

For any interested, here is a short video clip hubby took the other day when the hogs moved from one rotation paddock to the next on the back of one of our hills. You can barely see most of them--there are 5 in this video clip, as they are so busy rooting up the new area. The wagging tails and happy grunts leave no doubt though, as to how content they are!!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-10-14 11:44:22 (CST)

Danielle (aka Redgate), I can only say I wish we had more insightful young farmers like you, eloquent, informed and empathetic.
It is absolutely true to say that oftentimes the wrong questions are asked and therefore the wrong solutions are presented. This morning, for example, on US Farm report , commentator John Phipps, who last weekend had talked about the advantage of no-till , presented the other side of the coin, the drawbacks and among a number of other points his strongest one was the absolute dependence on chemicals. He ended by referring to the increasing herbicide resistance of weeds which might soon put an end to entire system. Here the question was " How can we grow crops with almost no rotation on large areas?", in other words, farming with a minimum number of people. Politicians and farmers alike will have to understand that in order to have a sustainable, productive agriculture the industrial model of profit before everything without consideration of all parts involved will not be succcessful in the long run. Wherever one looks, there are price depressing surpluses which were accomplished without a lot of consideration of the consequences for farmers, livestock, the environment, the land. Much to the contrary, many farmers and farm organizations even defend the model , praising it for its alleged efficiency, nothwithstanding the obvious negative effects on those involved. Rural communities are suffering and the real causes are hidden behind political battles about sideline issues.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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