Promoting understanding
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Do you believe in fairytales?

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Daisy, the mother pig knew the time was coming. She made a snug nest in the straw and delivered her piglets in the darkness. She cleaned each one as they were born, then pushed them into a bundle and lay down carefully and fed them.

The next morning the barn door opened and the farmer entered. He smiled and ran to the house to tell his wife and children. They all stood in awe and watched the new family bonding. Over the coming weeks the children are allowed to play gently with the piglets and name them. There was Barney, Arrabella, Sidney, Pluto, Ginger and Rosedrop. They grow robust and strong and soon began exploring the yard. They were small enough to fit through the wooden rungs on the fence and set off on many adventures. They made friends with all of the other young animals – the chickens and goslings, the calves and the new foal. But the animals that they were especially fond of were the lambs. They shared a similar sense of fun and they all played together until nightfall, then scurried home to the warmth and comfort of their mothers.

The farmer’s wife brought lovely warm swill for them to eat morning and night and during the day they’d gorge themselves on the chestnuts that lay on the ground under the huge shading trees. If it was raining they’d roll in the mud until they were covered from snout to tail, then go and lie in the warm straw to dry off. Their bed was cleaned out every few days so they are never cold.

They loved the smell of the farmyard. The different animals, the rose garden with its delicate fragrance gently wafting on the breeze, the smell of dinner cooking from the house. They loved watching the dawn break, then gently drifting back to sleep. They loved the noise of the tractor starting and the dogs barking. They need stimulation and there was plenty.

As they grew they became bored and restless. They wanted to fulfil their purpose and constantly asked their mother “when will my time come”. She told them to “be patient” but it was hard.

Then finally the big day arrived, they bid their proud mother farewell and the farmer patted them gently on the shoulder. Then ‘BING’ just like magic, they were transformed into shrink wrapped packets of bacon and ham. Their friends the lambs, also eager to be of service, suddenly transformed into trays of cutlets and chops. The mother pig and sheep were a bit lonely at first but glad that they have provided for the humans they love so much.


Isn’t that a lovely scenario? It sounds very much like a story we were read as young children doesn’t it? But why is it that as we grow, we stop believing in fairytales but most of us still cling to this myth?

Part of the reason is because this is what the animal production industry wants us to believe and actively promotes such propaganda.  We see animals dancing across our screens, inviting us to eat them. Packaging displays lovely peaceful farmyard scenes much like the one I just described. We see a proud Steggles farmer gently cradling his chicken and petting it.

However unless someone lives in a cave, there is no way that people can really believe these lies. The social media has opened the doors on factory farming and our not so ‘humane’ methods of dispatching these unfortunate souls. Voiceless have even secured prime time advertising spots with their “The Truth is Hard to Swallow” campaign.  It is aptly named – the truth is hard to swallow. It is confronting and threatening.  It makes us think about our choices, our lifestyle and also our degree of culpability in allowing these things to happen. So people happily swallow a lie instead.

In the UK recently, the very LAST battery hen was freed from her cage. They are now rightfully banned. While this doesn’t herald the end of animal cruelty it is a very significant step forward. It shows that people are beginning to see the truth, acknowledge and reject it. However this is not something that happened overnight. It has taken decades of persistence on the part of some very dedicated organisations and individuals. Meanwhile, battery cages are still accepted as a normal means of egg production in Australia and hundreds of millions of hens suffer silently as the egg industry attempts to defend the indefensible and our Government refuses to listen to the public or take action. But eventually they will, just as in the UK, they will have no choice.

Before I go, I just want to make a few corrections to my ‘farmyard fairytale ’to make it more accurate.

  • There is no nest of straw, just a hard, cold concrete floor.
  • They do not interact with their mother. She is restrained by steel bars, most of the time on her side rendering her nothing more than a lactating machine.
  • They have no names – the males do not live long enough to need one. The females selected for breeding will be allocated a number which is written on a tag and pinned to their ear.
  • There is no farmer, no farmer’s wife. It is a factory with workers who are hardened, cynical and unfeeling.
  • There are no children to play with. Their only contact with humans involves pain as they are castrated, tail docked and ear marked without anaesthetic.
  • They do not go off exploring. Their home is a pen with a concrete floor and a drain to collect their waste.
  • They do not make friends with other baby animals. There are no other animals, only 30 000 other pigs.
  • They do not eat warm swill or chestnuts. Feed is delivered automatically and consists entirely of pellets.
  • They do not ever see sunlight or roll in the mud.
  • There are no farmyard noises – just the sound of thousands of other pigs wailing in misery, slowly going insane.
  • There is no stimulation, they are bored and begin to self mutilate.
  • They do not want to die and become ‘a product’. Their sense of self preservation is strong, just like yours and mine.
  • There is no magic BING. They are crowded into filthy trucks and transported to slaughter houses where they huddle scared and bewildered. They know that they are going to die and they fight and try to escape. Those that do manage to escape the killing floor are (as we have seen on recent undercover videos) routinely bludgeoned to death with iron bars or sledge hammers.
  • And finally the piece of bacon, ham, cutlet or chop that sits serenely in its hygienic packaging is not meat or a ‘source of protein’. It is simply the dead flesh of a once living being.

NOTE: Due to intense public outrage, the Australian Pork Industry has agreed to voluntarily phase out sow gestation crates in 2017. However this is not mandated by law and they could just as well choose to ignore this already ridiculous deadline and continue their current practices should public awareness and pressure wane.

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