Recently an article by The Dodo.com, Inc. explained how a 16-year-old boy gave away his FFA show pig to Farm Sanctuary to, as it stated, “save” and “rescue” his pig. Having proudly been a part of FFA and showing pigs since I was a freshman in high school, I want to share my view.
I understand The Dodo.com, Inc. does not share the same view of animal agriculture as I do. The organization is associated with animal rights groups like Farm Sanctuary, which routinely attack animal agriculture. It’s pretty clear by their vernacular that they believe livestock such as pigs are “companion animals.” Conversely, I believe pigs are livestock that have a purpose.
The majority of kids who show pigs in 4-H and FFA have castrated male pigs called barrows. These pigs often are born in January and February and grow throughout the summer as you show. Once they weigh upwards of around 300 pounds, they are taken to slaughter. If barrows were kept after that, their health and welfare would begin to decline. Heavier weights strain their feet and their mobility.
Other pigs, shown more often by breeders, are gilts and boars. Gilts are female pigs that have not had piglets and boars are male pigs. The goal in showing these pigs is either to sell them as a breeding animal or keep them back to breed yourself. Those that are not kept back for breeding are often taken to slaughter.
According to the article, the boy said, “It changed my perception by just showing that FFA tends to ... desensitize the students that go in there," he said. "Students in the FFA are getting changed by [the program] showing them, these are just things that you should kill and eat, not things you should bond with."
This whole statement is far from the truth. FFA teaches young kids how to responsibly raise livestock. As the article stated, you care for the animal’s needs, such as feeding, cleaning and training them to walk. Respecting your pig is of the utmost importance.
To say FFA promotes that you should not bond with pigs is downright ridiculous. I bond with every pig I raise. I can tell you the personality of each pig I bring to the fair. The best part of my summers has been working with pigs. I get to learn their personalities and earn their trust. Kids who bond and work with their animals the most are usually the most successful. The article stating that kids do form a bond with their animals is the only part I agree with.
I give the best life I can to all the pigs I raise, whether they’re raised as meat animals or breeding stock. I am their caretaker. I meet their needs and spoil them as they show through the summer. I have grown up on a farm and know the purpose of the animals I raise. Livestock animals’ purpose is for meat, which provides a source of nutrition and a choice for consumers. For those who choose not to eat meat, it is their own decision. What troubles me is when those same people condemn those who choose to eat meat. Individuals that are far removed from agriculture do not understand livestock animals’ purpose, nor do they want to. All they see is a pet, which is not the case. Animals are not humans either, and should not be compared on an equal level.
I respect this young man’s beliefs, even though they differ from my own. I don’t appreciate when his beliefs are used by organizations to advance their own agenda, which is to eliminate animal agriculture.
I will always support FFA. The organization provides great opportunities for young people and teaches many valuable lessons in agriculture.