One of the misconceptions about confinement hog barns is that the animals cannot move around and their environment is inhumane. Pigs, much like humans, naturally want to be close to other pigs. Even though the piglets in our barn have plenty of room to move about in their pins, you can see in the picture below that they love to be close to one another under the brooder heaters. Don’t they look comfy? They should be . . . no matter how cold it is outside, these pigs know nothing but 74 degrees even in the middle of winter in Iowa.
As the pigs grow larger and the space in their pins becomes tighter, we open up the north half of our barn so they have even more room to roam.
I can understand why people like the idea of animals roaming freely outside with the sunshine hitting their backs and green pastures to feed on. We all like that. But it does puzzle me a bit that some people feel so strongly about animals not being in confined spaces and yet we have millions of people across the world living on top of each other in large cities, with nothing but concrete surrounding them. Having lived in the country my whole life, all I know is wide open spaces, privacy, fresh air and corn fields. But the majority of people would disagree with me since most of the population chooses to live in the city.
When I was in Hong Kong a few years back, I remember thinking that it seemed like people were literally living on top of each other in the tiniest of spaces. When I looked up across the mountains there were houses and apartment buildings that looked to be stacked on top of each other. When I was in New York City I almost felt claustrophobic being constantly surrounded by people and the hustle and bustle. I love experiencing big cities and have a great appreciation for them. But after a couple of days, I always start to long for home, being in my space without anyone bumping into me and my freedom to jump in my truck and go where I want without waiting in line.
Although it’s hard for me to imagine the city life, most of the world’s people live this way and feel most comfortable in this environment. Most people do not prefer my lifestyle. I have had numerous friends come visit us in what they describe as “the middle of nowhere” and they can’t imagine not having neighbors right next to them or amenities close by. Having people and infrastructure close by gives them a sense of security and comfort.
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on; whether you prefer living in a big city or living in the middle of nowhere. People and animals want the comfort of being with their peers. This can take many different shapes and forms. Not good or bad forms; just different forms.
Let me clarify one thing before I go . . . I am comparing pigs to humans in this article, yes, but only to a point. Let’s not forget that the pigs we are raising are for the purpose of protein. We want to ensure that each pig on our farm has the best life possible, one where they are kept healthy and safe. But we can’t compare the value of a pig’s life to the value of a human’s life.
Here are a couple of shots of the girls meeting the new pigs last week.
Isn’t this one cute?! The pig’s not bad either 😉