COM 521 Portfolio

“Some Pig”

Six months in the life of a farmed pig.

A female pig is inseminated by a farm worker.

A piglet’s life begins much as her mother’s life did, via artificial insemination.

A group of pigs in gestation crates.

Gestation crates are the industry standard for breeding sows. During repeated cycles of forcible impregnation, female pigs are confined to crates so small that they are immobilized, unable to lay down comfortably, turn around, or stretch their limbs.

Row upon row of pigs in gestation crates.

This intensive confinement leads to bone, cardiac, and muscle damage and severe mental distress.

A mother pig in a farrowing crate, nursing several piglets.

As they are ready to give birth, mothers are moved to farrowing crates. Similar to confinement in gestation crates, sows are immobilized, unable to reach their offspring, and deprived of exercising natural habits like nesting, grooming, and bonding.

A closeup of newborn piglets nursing in a barren, dark and dirty farrowing crate.

With the farrowing crate limiting the mother pig’s mobility, newborn piglets must navigate dirty and crowded conditions during their nursing period.

An emaciated piglet looks at a group of piglets on the other side of a grate.

One in four piglets is stillborn or dies in the first few days after birth usually due to perinatal hypothermia or starvation.

On the farm, newly born piglets have their tails docked, teeth filed, and ears notched and male pigs are castrated without the use of an anesthetic, painkiller, or antibiotic.

A group of piglets cower in the corner of an industrial pig pen.

Once removed from the farrowing crate, piglets are housed in groups in concrete pens.

A pig pen covered in feces in an unlit barn.

A typical pig pen has no windows or openings to the outside, and indoor lighting is rarely used.

A dying piglet alone on the floor of a pig barn.

Dead and dying piglets are a common sight on hog farms.

A portrait of a young piglet in a barn.

Baby pigs are curious, social, and playful by nature. Recent evidence suggests that pigs, like apes and other animals, display object discrimination, time perception, memory, and an understanding of symbolic language and gestures.

One pig looks up at the camera amid row and rows of pigs.

Piglets on factory farms have no enrichment or access to sunlight, fresh air, or bedding.

Young pigs are loaded into transport truck.

Transport to slaughter is one of the most stressful times in a pig’s short life. It is also likely the first time they have experienced sunlight.

Crowded and inhumane conditions on transport trucks, that provide little in the way of climate control, subject piglets to injury and extreme weather conditions.

These harrowing transports often exceed 30 hours during which 6-month-old pigs are deprived of food and water.

Pigs jostle for space and footing as they are led into the slaughterhouse.

Young pigs jostle for space and footing as workers use electric prods to move them from the truck into the slaughterhouse.

Animal Rights activists worldwide “bear witness to the suffering of animals in transport and outside of slaughterhouses” as part of the Save Movement.

Approaching the transport trucks, they provide water and comfort to dehydrated and stressed animals.

In the U.S., pork plants are allowed to slaughter 1,106 pigs per hour, although many large producers want to do away with any speed limitations.

Pigs are the third most commonly slaughtered animal for food with roughly 1.3 billion pigs killed each year globally.


In 2012, Julia gave birth to 16 piglets three days after being rescued from a factory farm. Unlike her previous litters, Julia was allowed to care for her piglets in safe, peaceful, bucolic conditions. Julia lived at Farm Sanctuary for the remainder of her life.

Farm Sanctuary, founded in 1986, was the first of its kind, focusing on the rescue, care, and advocacy of animals raised for food. Today, there are hundreds of farm animal sanctuaries throughout the world.

A list of photo credits overlays an image of pigs in the abattoir.

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