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You may not be aware that the pig is the cleanest animal on a farm. Some people think they’re dirty because they roll in mud, but that’s just their way of keeping cool since they don’t have sweat glands.  A hog, though, is the only animal who, given any choice, will run away from its sty to urinate and defecate.

We had horses when I was growing up, horses that ate in their stalls but were free to leave for the pasture anytime it suited them. Those stalls had to be mucked out periodically. The horses would do their business in the stall and then stand in it to eat their oats and hay. It didn’t seem to bother them. A hog would be disgusted at such behavior.

But hogs raised in CAFOs are forced to spend their lives on slatted floors, defecating and urinating right there, standing on and above their waste their whole lives. And unable to so much as turn around. That’s no way to treat a hog.

There’s no reason to make their lives a living hell. It isn’t even, as the factory farmers pretend, more efficient. Consider, for example, that the USDA has been buying up pork these last few months, pork that CAFO owners can’t sell. You see, once those big barns are built, it’s a huge investment that must be put to use. So the owners fill up those sheds even when demand is lagging.

In the aerial photo below, you can see a typical CAFO. Each of those barns might have 8,000-9,000 hogs crammed into it. Lagoons sit to the left. “Lagoon” sounds so picturesque, but it looks black because that’s where the waste is pumped.

Smaller farming operations, on the other hand, can raise fewer pigs if demand declines and focus instead on more crops or more chickens and sheep. They’re flexible. Not to mention, being humane and environmentally sound.

Farmers–real farmers, not the janitors who run CAFOs–can respect the nature of a pig instead of torturing the animal. Farmers can turn their pigs out to pasture, thereby avoiding the need for antibiotics and producing meat that’s healthier for consumers. And while they’re at it, they don’t find it necessary to pollute our groundwater or drive rural residents from their homes with sheer stink.

photo of hogs in CAFO coutesy of Flickr user Farm Sanctuary under a Creative Commons license.

aerial photo of CAFO courtesy of Flickr user SkyTruth under a Creative Commons license.

photo of hog in pasture with chicken, piglets, and rams: courtesy of pubwvj under a Creative Commons license.