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Stories from Behind the Walls

If you go behind the walls the industry erects to hide the truth, you will find the situation worse than you could have imagined.


Not Your Childhood Image by lauren Ornelas,

Pig with rupture

When I saw what life is really like for pigs on today’s farms, I was left feeling physically sick for days. I suppose I knew they lived on concrete, indoors in factory farms. However, I was not prepared for the intensity of their confinement, and the awful reality of their boredom.

Photos courtesy of Viva! USA; click images for larger views.
Rotting corpse

In the gestation shed, I heard a constant clanging noise. It was the sows hitting their heads against their cage doors as if trying to escape. After a while, some would give up and lie down, while others again took up their futile action.

I saw the pens where pigs are fattened up for slaughter – essentially concrete cells, each holding about a dozen pigs (left). In one pen, there was a pig missing an ear. Another had a rupture the size of a grapefruit protruding from his stomach (above). A dead pig was constantly nudged and licked by others (below, right). The stench in these places is overwhelming.

Pigs with dead cellmate

At the larger farms I visited in North Carolina, there were thousands of pigs housed in sheds. Many were dead (left) or dying – one actually died right in front of me as I videotaped. Dead pigs had been left in the pens with the living; other pigs had been tossed in the aisles – barely alive, unable to reach food or water.

For more on this investigation, see When Pigs Cry: A Report on the USA Pig Industry.

“Do we, as humans, having an ability to reason and to communicate abstract ideas verbally and in writing, and to form ethical and moral judgments using the accumulated knowledge of the ages, have the right to take the lives of other sentient organisms, particularly when we are not forced to do so by hunger or dietary need, but rather do so for the somewhat frivolous reason that we like the taste of meat?

“In essence, should we know better?”

Peter Cheeke, PhD, Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture, 2004

Emery’s Rescue by Christine Morrissey, East Bay Animal Advocates

Emery before rescue
Emery, before (above) and after (below) being rescued from the farm. Photos courtesy of East Bay Animal Advocates.
Emery after rescue

Emery was destined to become one of the many chicken breast fillets advertised as “all natural” at the local supermarket. However, in a string of luck, this plump rooster made an unusual detour from the normal life of a bird raised for meat.

During the summer of 2005, rescuers with East Bay Animal Advocates discovered the disabled four-week-old chicken at a factory farm. Leaving the California Central Valley behind, Emery relocated to the Bay Area. This night changed his life.

A “poster chicken” of the broiler industry, Emery has a crippling case of splay leg – a limb deformity common among broilers. Factory farmed chickens suffering from splay leg often struggle to gain access to food and water and are denied veterinary care.

Click here for video footage from this investigation.

Like turkeys, broiler chickens are confined inside sheds with tens of thousands of other birds.2 Forced to live on waste-soaked litter, the birds commonly suffer burns on their feet and bodies.5 During EBAA’s investigation, 39 sick and injured chickens were rescued, including Yosemite (below, left).
Yosemite with burns Broiler house

“Contrary to what one may hear from the industry, chickens are not mindless, simple automata but are complex behaviorally, do quite well in learning, show a rich social organization, and have a diverse repertoire of calls. Anyone who has kept barnyard chickens also recognizes their significant differences in personality.”

Bernard E. Rollin, PhD, Farm Animal Welfare, Iowa State University Press, 2003

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