Across Europe, millions of pigs are suffering on factory farms: where their natural instincts are stifled, their bodies are mutilated and they spend significant periods of their lives trapped in dirty, tiny cages.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In their revision to the animal welfare legislation, the European Commission must include strict, specific rules for pigs to ensure they can live satisfying and engaging lives. These assurances are the least any sentient being deserves – and there are a range of case studies across Europe that show exactly what kind of measures work to ensure pig welfare.
One such example comes from a pig farm in the heart of Poland, Pstra Wybiegana – a collaborative effort by two farms to raise pigs following extremely high animal welfare standards. We asked farmer Maciej to tell us more about their efforts to ensure their pigs lead good quality lives under their care.
Why have you chosen to farm following high animal welfare standards?
We just feel like this is the only way humans should work with animals – we should of course all be following the highest possible animal welfare standards we can! They deserve the very best of what we can offer them.
We also think that by following these standards, we’re offering our consumers peace of mind when they buy animal products from us, as well as contributing to a more sustainable planet and better food systems. By only selling small amounts locally of high quality animal products, we encourage our consumers to eat much fewer animal-derived products in general: which is better for public health and the environment. By operating on this scale, we’re also supporting the local economy, while at the same time putting a lot of effort into making our farm truly nature friendly. By only working with a small number of pigs we’re able to give each of them a lot of attention too, which is really gratifying.
Tell us a bit about your farm. What do you feed your pigs?
Our pigs have a diverse diet, which includes steamed potatoes, greens, grain middlings and whey.
Potatoes give our pigs energy, greens give them fibres and vitamins, and grain middlings and whey supply proteins, vitamins and water. All of these different ingredients have real nutritional value – and what’s more, they taste great. Our pigs love their food – but we don’t overindulge them, because it’s important to their welfare that they have opportunities to forage for their own snacks in the wild, as this is one of their deeply-ingrained natural instincts. Fortunately, our variety of outdoor areas provides plenty of opportunities to do that.