More than 30 million pigs are produced every year in Canada for slaughter. Most are born to sows who are kept in two-feet-wide metal gestation crates, where they are unable to even turn around during their four-month pregnancy. Sows experience crippling leg disorders and a deprived environment in crates.
Just before the sow gives birth, she is moved to a metal farrowing crate where she can barely stand and lie down, on concrete floors without access to straw. There her piglets are born. The farrowing crate confines the sow so she cannot accidentally step or roll on the piglets.
The young piglets stay with their mothers until weaning at two to three weeks. When removed from their mothers, the young piglets’ teeth are clipped, their tails cut and the males are castrated – all without anaesthesia. The piglets are taken away to be fattened in nursery pens on concrete floors, then to “grower” pens, and finally to “finisher” pens until they reach slaughter weight of 250 pounds at six months old.
Pigs may legally be transported 36 hours in Canada without water, food or rest, in addition to a
5-hour food withdrawal prior to loading. The stressful conditions of pig factories cause extreme boredom, aggression and physical and mental deterioration in pigs.
Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are the largest pig-producing and pig-slaughtering provinces in Canada. Approximately one-quarter of all Canadian pigs are exported to the U.S. for fattening and slaughter.
For more details on pigs, download our fact sheet (pdf file).
Freedom from a farrowing crate
An innovative southwestern Ontario pig producer designed and built this protoype farrowing pen to allow his lactating sows freedom instead of the confinement of a farrowing crate.
Letter to Canadian grocers about pig castration
Read the letter co-signed by ten Canadian and European organizations. (February 22, 2010)