What if I told you that twice a day, I tie my four-year-old to a chair and leave her there for an hour?
No matter how she pleads or cries or protests, she has to be tied down. Some days I strap her to a chair for nine hours or more.
Before you call Child Protective Services, think about a car seat. It is against the law for me to transport my small child anywhere without strapping her into a car seat. She may not like it, but it’s best for her.
Everyone understands the dangers of not using car seats. No one will argue that they are not needed to keep our children safe. People understand how dangerous car wrecks can be. We haven’t always used them (my parents weren’t strapped in car seats), but people now agree that they are needed to keep kids safe.
People don’t know much about pig farming.
Most people think of Wilbur or Babe when they think of pigs on farm: cute little pink pigs that make smart-alecky remarks to the sheep. But, that’s not reality. Real pigs are much different.
· Did you know that grown sows (momma pigs) can weigh as much as 500 pounds?
· They are huge animals. They may stand 4 feet tall.
· They can be very dangerous animals. Pig farmers can tell very scary stories about a pig hurting or even killing someone.
There has been a lot of news in social media and on the Internet about gestation stalls, or maternity pens, used in the pork industry. Several food companies and restaurants have declared that they will be phased out in the next few years and some states have even passed legislation banning them.
Most people know very little about pork production and why gestation stalls are used. People see pictures and hear terrible stories about farmers ‘abusing’ pigs and think, “Wow, how can we let this happen?” The problem is that we are not hearing the whole story. So, I decided to write a post about them, to help explain.
What are gestation stalls?
Gestation stalls are small pens that farmers put sows (momma pigs) in while they are pregnant. They provide each pig with a specific amount of food and all the water she wants, but there is not a lot of room for her to move around. They can lie down, but not turn around. They are artificially inseminated (bred to the boar) in those pens and stay there until they are about to have their babies. Then they move to a different type of pen.
Why do farmers use them?
First, they use them to protect the pigs from each other. Just like people, pigs pick on each other. If you have a group of pigs together in a pen, they will fight to establish a hierarchy, to determine who is boss. In the case of sows, some will become ‘bully sows’ and will literally fight and pick on inferior sows until they are physically separated or one dies. These pigs stand waist-high and may weigh as much as 400 or even 500 pounds. A 200-lb man is no match for them. Fighting sows are very dangerous.
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