Pigs are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, with cognitive abilities similar to those of great primates, dolphins and elephants. These amazing animals are self-conscious and have been considered smarter than dogs in scientific studies. They also have very clean habits and separate the space where they live in areas of rest, eating, playing and doing their necessities. Like us, they feel fear, pain and sadness.
Industrial farms totally ignore the needs of these animals. In Brazil and Latin America, millions of breeding sows - used to give birth to piglets - are confined to gestation cages for almost a lifetime. These cages are about the same size as their bodies, so they cannot even walk or turn around inside the cage. They live their entire lives without being able to express their natural behaviors such as rummaging, fetching food, nesting and grazing. Undoubtedly, this is one of the worst cruelties of the meat industry.
Scientific studies show that caged sows are more likely to suffer from frustration and psychological trauma. They also suffer from physical problems such as urinary tract infections, weakened bones, lameness or even loss of movement due to leg and hoof problems.
In Latin America, the Sinergia Animal team has been battling these abuses and demanding that large companies commit to ending this cruelty in their supply chains.
And we are succeeding.
Major fast-food chains like Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King have announced they will eliminate the use of gestation cages throughout Latin America. In Brazil, the three largest producers - BRF, JBS and Aurora - have already made this commitment.
Does cage-free mean cruelty-free?
Of course not. We know that no kind of animal exploitation is good, but since we cannot end the livestock industry overnight, we must at least ensure that animals are treated in a more dignified manner.
Cage-free systems have great potential to reduce animal suffering. Eliminating cages allows animals to move, socialize with each other, and express their natural behaviors, which are important to their welfare.
However, there are several other problems in the swine industry. For example, in most farms, piglets are spayed and have their teeth clenched and tails cut off without any anesthesia. Fattening animals, which are not raised in cages, live in cement stalls - often overcrowded. And in the end, of course, every one of them suffer from being transported and killed in the slaughterhouses.
We must remember that the best way to protect animals is to not eat them.