The final, ‘finishing’ stage means pigs may again be moved to another concrete pen. Almost all pigs never see anything that resembles a natural environment, nor one that enables pigs to fulfil their natural instincts. During this stage, the main objective is to grow the pig to slaughter weight as rapidly and efficiently as possible. The most common type of housing for both growing and finishing pigs is in controlled-environment buildings with fully or partly slatted floors. Temperature and air quality are strictly regulated, as finishing pigs can be particularly prone to heat stress. There is no opportunity for them to wallow in mud pools as they would in the wild. Instead they will attempt to wallow (in their instinct to survive) in their own excreta on farms, which increases the risk of disease transmission.
Adult boars may be housed singly in cells that only allow them to turn around.
The lives of pigs on factory farms end at five or six months old, when they are killed for meat. Breeding sows are likely to be killed at around three to five years old, if they survive that long, also killed for ‘low grade’ meat.
An inevitable accompaniment to every farm is the dumping of dead animals. Viva! has uncovered the bodies of many animals on farms during undercover investigations – in pens with living pigs, in walkways, bins or outside areas – discarded like trash. By law, the farmers should dispose of carcasses by burial to prevent the spread of disease, but this does not always happen.
Piglets and adult pigs often die on farms. Workers often do not bother disposing of the bodies. They are instead dumped in walkways, bins or outside areas © Viva!