Pigs are naturally social animals. In the wild a social unit comprises of:
- 1-4 females
- Their offspring
- Boars who join females during mating season
Such groups are highly hierarchical. Each pig has a place, and knows its place, in the group heirarchy. Consequently the pigs live in harmony with the other pigs in the family grouping.
Natural pig farming supports the natural behavioral drives of pigs. They are kept together in stable family groups where hierarchies are formed at birth and then maintained throughout their lives. Piglets are kept in family groups from birth through to slaughter. Sows are kept in small family groups in an open pen. These sows are taken from the same litter/family group they were raised in.
By keeping pigs in their stable family groups we improve their well-being, health, welfare and growth.
- No aggression
- No injuries from fighting
- Low levels of illness
- Good growth rates
- Productive sows with large litter sizes
- Happy pigs living in a stress free environment they clearly enjoy
We have tranquil, non aggressive pigs that are a pleasure to raise.
If you are raising your pigs in stable family groups never, ever put a new pig in with group. It will be ceaselessly pestered, nosed, and possibly bitten, and will die from the stress. Even if a pig has been raised within the group, if you remove it for a short time (to isolate it for a period whilst it recovers from illness, for instance) and then return it to the pen it may not be remembered or recognised by the other pigs. Result: It will be pestered to death. This is particularly a danger when the pigs are growing rapidly and may change in appearance and size within a few weeks, The one possible way to avoid this aggression is to put the pig alone in a partitioned area of the pen where the other pigs can see and smell it and over time get used to it's presence. When the time comes to remove the partition you must monitor the situation very closely throughout the day to ensure there are no problems with pestering and aggression. If there is, you must remove the pig from the others promptly and raise it separately.
Factory farms that grow piglets to slaughter age continue to mix pigs from different groups throughout the different stages of their development. The pigs are repeatedly mixed with unfamiliar individuals in crowded pens with disastrous results. Each pigs has to repeatedly fight to establish its place in a hierarchy and as a result fight injuries are sustained. The level of aggression is heightened by the fact that in the overcrowded conditions the pigs are kept in, there is no space for an attacked pig to escape away from any attack. Not surprisingly the pigs become highly stressed, making it not only an unhappy existence but one where the body immune system is less able to fend off any viruses active within the environment. It has also been shown that mixing pigs in this way slows growth rates, a demonstrable measure that such conditions stress the pigs to such a degree that even physical growth is retarded as a result.