#TurnYourNoseUp

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You can reduce your intake of pork, bacon, ham and sausages to cover the extra cost of buying high welfare. For example, six sausages from an animal factory cost the same as five from a high welfare farm. And three rashers of bacon from an animal factory cost the same as two from a real farm.

Eating less, but better, meat is good for your health, and the impacts of over-consumption are well documented1. Eating less meat and cooking with cheaper cuts can save money on shopping bills, which makes it possible to buy high welfare without necessarily spending more. Here you can find some ideas on how to prepare and cook vegetarian meals and meals with cheaper cuts2.

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High welfare pork often costs more than meat produced in pig factories because pork from animal factories carries five heavy costs that are not captured in the price:

  • Threat to public health from superbugs caused by overuse of antibiotics
  • Undermining of real farmers and rural economies
  • Pollution of air and water which sickens local residents and destroys wildlife
  • Animal abuse through confinement, overcrowding, mutilation, exploitation, neglect and denial of natural behaviours
  • The globalisation of our livestock system and the resulting loss of food sovereignty

These costs never appear in grocery or restaurant bills, but they result in incalculable costs for the environment, local communities and future generations.

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Animal factories can produce meat cheaply because they do not pay the costs for natural resources they consume. In addition, they produce huge quantities of waste and greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change and polluting our land, air and water.3

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Excessive quantities of antibiotics are used on animal factories. In the UK, approximately 25% of ALL antibiotics are given to pigs in animal factories just to keep them alive in the overcrowded, contagious conditions. In December 2015, a UK government report warned that overuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock production is a significant cause of antibiotic resistance in many human diseases.4

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In animal factories, pigs suffer from confinement, isolation or overcrowding and the frustration of their natural behaviour. Minimum EU welfare standards require that pigs have access to adequate bedding and that their tails are not routinely docked. However these regulations are routinely ignored in pig factories. This is why it is so important to buy pork produced to the standards of a recognised assurance scheme. See here the different assurance standards in the UK and what they mean for animal welfare.

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Pig factories can be defined as indoor facilities in which overcrowding and lack of bedding means that the animals suffer stress and disease, are prone to tail biting and have to be routinely given antibiotics.

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The aim of pig factories is to produce as much meat at the lowest possible cost to meet the rising global demand for cheap protein. Livestock production has grown increasingly more industrialised compromising not only animal welfare but also our health, local economies and the environment.

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The industrialisation of pork production in animal factories was ‘invented’ in the 1960s with the aim of using economies of scale to increase profit margins. However, this type of production is inefficient because of its high capital costs, and because it needs high input volumes of water, energy and imported feed. The system is also unsustainable and unethical because it relies on antibiotics to compensate for the barren, overcrowded and unhealthy conditions in which the pigs spend their lives.

Food for the future can be provided much more efficiently by growing crops for human consumption, instead of using those crops to feed livestock.5

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Pork sourced from farms where pigs are outdoors, or indoors with plenty of bedding, space and fresh air, and are able to express natural behaviours such as running, rooting, wallowing and playing. See here for more information on high welfare standards.

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We recognise different categories for high welfare pork (see our labelling system).

Organic is the only standard which offers not only higher animal welfare standards, but also environmental benefits in terms of waste management, residue, pesticides and fertilisers. The Organic standard also guarantees that no GMOs have been used in the feed.

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You can buy pork with high animal welfare labels in the supermarket, so look for RSPCA Assured, Outdoor Bred, Free Range or best of all Organic. You can ask for high welfare meat at your local butcher or better still shop at your local farmers’ market, find high welfare online, or join a box scheme.

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To avoid products that are falsely marketed as ‘high welfare’, it is best to look for meat that carries the official high welfare labels. Pork with these labels has been raised on high welfare farms, almost certainly in the UK, and farmers are inspected regularly to ensure they are complying with the standards fully.

Alternatively, check out our ‘questions to ask retailers’ when you can’t see a label on meat in your local butchers or farmers’ market.

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By cages, we mean sow stalls (also called gestation crates) and farrowing crates.
Sow stalls are narrow, steel cages that prevent the sow from turning around during pregnancy. They are illegal in the UK. There has been a partial ban in the EU since January 2013, which allows sow stalls to be used for up to 4 weeks in each pregnancy. However, a number of countries continue to be non-compliant on this ban.

Farrowing crates are narrow, steel cages that prevent the sow from turning around during pregnancy. They are not illegal in the UK. Sows can be kept in farrowing crates just before they give birth, and remain there for up to 5 weeks. See our labelling guide to find out which UK labels use farrowing crates.

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The statistics:

  • Average UK life expectancy (2013) = 81 years
    *Source: ONS
  • Average current UK age (2013) = 40 years
    *Source: ONS
  • Average amount of pork consumed each year (2013) = 14.7043 kg
    *Source: DEFRA
  • Average retail weight of a pig in the UK = 80kg
    *Source: DEFRA
  • Amount of pigs consumed each year = 0.1838 pigs consumed each year per person
    *Source: DEFRA

The working:

  • pigs freed = number of pigs consumed * number of years not eating meat from animal factories
  • pigs freed = 0.1838 * 41 = 7.54
  • 1 pledge = 7.54 pigs freed from animal factories

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Shutting down pig factories would benefit high welfare UK farmers. Animal factories abuse animals in inhumane conditions and externalise costs onto the broader community (by antibiotic overuse, pollution and toxic stench), thereby unfairly outcompeting smaller, high welfare farmers and destroying local communities.

In addition, indoor spaces, presently used as animal factories, can easily be converted to ethical methods of production by providing more space, ample bedding and ideally access to the outdoors.

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UK minimum welfare standards are higher than those in other EU countries, but farrowing crates (metal cages that restrict the mother pig’s movement and prevent her from nurturing her piglets) are allowed for 5 weeks in each pregnancy, or 2.5 months a year. Furthermore, many intensive systems in the UK have been found to be breaking welfare regulations by keeping pigs on bare concrete slats with no bedding, and routinely cutting off their tails.6

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Below is a table comparing welfare conditions in the UK, other EU countries and the USA:

CountrySow StallsFarrowing CratesBeddingAntibioticsTail Docking
UKnot allowedallowed for 5 weeks in each pregnancy, equivalent to 2.5 months a yearpigs must have access to straw or similar manipulable material. Widely ignorednot allowed to be given as growth promoter, 50% antibiotics used for animals mostly in intensive indoor systemsthe law says that tails must not be docked routinely, the cause must be addressed first.
Widely ignored
Other EU countriesallowed for four weeks in each pregnancy, equivalent to 2 months a yearallowed for 5 weeks in each pregnancy, equivalent to 2.5 months a yearpigs must have access to straw or similar manipulable material. Widely ignorednot allowed to be given as growth promoter,
high use of antibiotics except Denmark and Sweden
the law says that tails must not be docked routinely, the cause must be addressed first.
Widely ignored
USApermanent confinement in sow stalls permittedno restrictionno legal requirementcan be used constantly in feed as growth promoter.
75% antibiotics used for animals mostly in intensive systems
no restrictions

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There are a lot of simple things you can do to support our work, from inspiring your family and friends to take action against animal factories (for example, download our action pack, object to animal factories or promote our campaigns through Facebook and Twitter) to adding to our High Welfare Pork Directory or making a small donation to help keeping our campaigns running and ensuring that more and more people will know the truth about factory farming.

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Our focus is on educating the public about the true costs of meat from pig factories, and inspiring consumers to only buy pork with high animal welfare labels. We can vote for real farming over factory farming every time we buy a pork product.

However, we are working closely with Compassion in World Farming to improve animal welfare standards on a government level.

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We support a joint initiative called Labelling Matters, an alliance including Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection, the Soil Association, the RSPCA and Eurogroup for Animals. Together, we are calling for honest labelling of the method by which meat has been produced, including meat produced in animal factories, so that consumers can make informed choices.

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Soil Association certified pork is slaughtered in certified abattoirs which are inspected and monitored. Other systems adhere to UK standards. We would like to see standards improved, and we are allied with Slaughterhouse Reform, a campaigning organisation with the following aims:

  • End non-stun slaughter.
  • Mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses.
  • Improve transport conditions for livestock.
  • Clear labelling of slaughter method on meat products.

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A lot of pig factories operate illegally by disregarding regulations stipulating minimum space requirements, provision of manipulable material to root and investigate, and that pigs must not be routinely tail docked7. Proper enforcement of existing legislation and a ban on the routine overuse of antibiotics would diminish the profitability of factory pig farming and allow high welfare pig farms a larger share of the market.

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Before reforms to the CAP in 2013, pig producers were not entitled to subsidies. Now, pig producers – whether farms or factories – are entitled to subsidies based on the amount of land they have in production (if they own the land themselves). Of course, intensive farms can be squashed on to small bits of land, so these subsidies don’t necessarily help pig factories. However, intensive farms receive indirect subsidies through externalising both social and environmental costs.

It’s difficult to say what impact the CAP reforms have had on pork production, since they are being introduced slowly.

Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are based on the amount of land that is in production; so large landowners receive more from the CAP than Europe’s small farms. About 80% of CAP subsidies go to about a quarter of EU farmers – those with the largest holdings. Farmers who do not own the land do not receive subsidies.

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Farms Not Factories’ vision is a world without animal factories. We want to raise awareness about the true costs of cheap meat, but we recognise that for many people, going vegetarian or vegan is not an option. That’s why we are working to make it easier for the public to choose ethically produced pork through our supermarket labelling guide and High Welfare Pork Directory.

Livestock farming is not simply a means of production; like all food production it has a rich cultural and socio-economic history. It has shaped the British countryside and its rural communities. To lose traditional, small-scale livestock farms would be to lose a wealth of tradition, knowledge and practice.

It is important to remember that animals are not the only casualties of a globalised and industrial meat industry. Choosing to buy pork from sustainable and local farms is a vote for a world free from the social, environmental and health impacts of the industry on communities around the world. And in a world where food security and sovereignty are increasingly important, we can – if we do choose to eat meat – support local farmers by buying from farmers’ markets and local butchers.

The Pig Pledge is not just for meat eaters, it exists to give educate people so that they can make more informed choices about the pork they eat. Even if you don’t eat meat, we ask you to take the Pig Pledge and add your voice to the thousands of people saying no to animal factories.

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Footnotes


1. Raphaely,T., Marinova,D. (2015) Impact of Meat Consumption on Health and Environmental Sustainability. Chapter 8 pp.131-177

2. Boer,J. (2014) “Meatless days” or “less but better”? Exploring strategies to adapt Western meat consumption to health and sustainability challenges

3. FOE (2010) Factory farming’s hidden impacts, FAO (2013) Tackling climate change through livestock, HSI (2011) Fact sheet: Factory farming in Mexico and CIWF (2009), Beyond Factory Farming; Sustainable Solution for Animals, People and the Planet

4. O’neill J., (2015), Review on Antimicrobial Resistance: Antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment – Reducing unnecessary use and waste

5. FOE (2010) Factory farming’s hidden impacts and FAO (2013) Tackling climate change through livestock

6. CIWF (2013) Widespread breaches of pig welfare laws in the EU

7. CIWF (2013) Widespread breaches of pig welfare laws in the EU