Sheep and Pig Farming

Pig Farming


The Life of a Factory Farm Pig Jennie Richards October 23, 2014

There are 117,126 million pigs slaughtered in the U.S. every year for the pork industry. And there are over 6 million pigs used each year for breeding, which involves a grueling continuous cycle of impregnation and birth in very inhumane conditions and confinement. These inhumane conditions are physically so restrictive and abnormal that sows cannot even move, walk, stand or express any of their natural behaviors. This extreme confinement was developed by the pork industry and pork corporations to increase corporate pork production and profits, while requiring less labor and food for the animals, and to save time and money. But these business practices have a brutal and inhumane cost to the sows and pigs, and cause them immense suffering.


  • Pigs are cruelly confined in extremely small metal barred cages on cold concrete floors where they cannot move, turn around, walk or exhibit any natural pig behavior, for years.
  • 100+ breeding sows are warehoused together in gestation crates side-by-side in rows of often 20 sows per row, lying uncomfortably on concrete floors their entire life, living in unsanitary conditions and filth, breathing ammonia fumes, with no access to sunlight or heat, and are not allowed to express any natural pig behavior like next-building and rooting.
  • Pigs are forced to live in unsanitary, filthy conditions, in their own feces, urine, vomit and the corpses of other pigs.
  • Breeding sows are considered pure “production units,” forced into a constant cycle of impregnation and birth, producing more than 20 piglets per year.
  • During sows pregnancies they are confined in two-foot wide metal gestation crates with no flooring, no ability to move forward, backward or turn around; then after birth sows move to farrowing crates where they are forced to lie on their sides for one month until re-impregnated again, where they move back to gestation crates to repeat the torturing cycle.
  • Piglets are subjected to painful mutilations without anesthesia or pain relief – their ears are notched and tails cut off to minimize tail biting due to the stress of factory farm conditions.
  • Physical Disorders – Intensive confinement of factory farms causes physical disorders where sows legs become crippled from a lack of walking and physical exercise; they breathe noxious gasses living in their feces and unsanitary conditions; develop respiratory problems breathing urine odors; and they develop multiple diseases through infection in close confinement.
  • Physiological Disorders – Intensive confinement causes a multitude of psychological disorders due to their inability to practice natural behaviors such as foraging, nest-building, grazing, rooting, and normal social behaviors, all leading to chronic stress, depression, abnormal and neurotic coping behaviors, and aggression.
  • Slaughtering – Pigs are transported in extremely crowded conditions leading to extreme suffering and death during transport. Inside the slaughterhouse, pigs are often still conscious as they are hung up by their back legs upside down to bleed out, and are often not “stunned” correctly since it is done very inaccurately. Pigs are often still conscious during the next step in the process which is the scalding tank where they are literally boiled alive while fully conscious.

Actions You Can Take

  1. Stop buying and eating pork.
  2. Stop buying pork products from factory farms found in grocery stores and supermarkets (almost all pork is from factory farms, there are many brands that sell pork).
  3. Instead of pork, buy “alternative” non-animal products to replace those from pigs. Many of these alternative products are easily found in your local grocery stores.
  4. Learn more about factory farms and industrial animal agriculture and why it’s such a significant threat to animal welfare, the environment, natural ecosystems, habitats and wildlife, and human health.
  5. When you dine out, ask local restaurants to buy pork only from small local farms where pigs are free-range and humanely raised and treated.
  6. Call your politicians and ask them to get involved and support animal welfare laws, and keep track of their voting record. Here’s some ideas
  7. Spread the word! Tell others about factory farming. Share on social media and help get the word out!


Sheep Farming



Sheep farming is certainly nothing new: wool has been a fabric source since before 10,000 BC and continues to be used in fashion, bedding, and carpeting around the world. 

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to wool production that many are unaware of. Tail docking, castration, and mulesing are still common practices within many sheep farming operations to this day.

Lamb meat, lanolin wax, parchment paper, milk, and cheese are also produced from sheep and sold globally. Humans have been recorded using sheep for their skin, meat, and milk since around 11,000 BC, and sheep with thick wool were introduced around 6,000 BC in Iran.

The domestication of sheep led to a boom in the wool trade around the world and was a large contributor to the wealth of Spain. Riches from the wool trade even helped fund the voyages of the conquistadors to the New World.

Wool isn’t the only profitable substance extracted from sheep. An oily substance called lanolin is meant to protect sheep’s skin from infections and waterproof their coat, but humans have been using it as a moisturizer for thousands of years. You can even still find it in modern makeup such as lipsticks and mascara. 

Cheeses like feta, ricotta, and Pecorino Romano were originally made with sheep’s milk and many authentic kinds of cheese remain that way today.

Whenever there is the potential for exploitation and profit, factory farms are never far behind.

Sheep Farming and the Wool Industry’s Damaging Environmental Impact


Sheep eat a lot – and as they digest their food, gases build up inside their intestines that must be expelled. So they burp and fart a lot, releasing enormous amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. Australia’s vast sheep population (over 70 million) has been identified as a major contributor to climate change. One sheep can produce about 30 litres of methane each day. And in New Zealand, gases passed by animals – mostly sheep – make up more than 90 per cent of the nation’s total methane emissions.

Manure from sheep and other animals exploited on farms has significantly contributed to the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases over the last 250 years. And excrement from sheep is polluting our land, air, and water, resulting in eutrophication, a serious ecological problem that occurs when run-off waste causes excessive growth of plant life in water systems. This suffocates animals by depleting oxygen levels in the water and is the leading cause of “dead zones”.

Wool production gobbles up precious resources. Environmentalists are increasingly highlighting the negative impact of sheep farming on the landscape.

Land has been cleared and trees have been cut down to make room for grazing sheep, leading to increased soil salinity and erosion as well as decreased biodiversity.

Approximately 20 per cent of pastureland worldwide is considered degraded because of overgrazing, compaction, and erosion. In the first half of the 20th century, Argentina was second only to Australia in wool production. But when local Argentinean sheep farmers got too greedy, the scale of their operations outgrew the capacity of the land to sustain them. Soil erosion in the region has triggered a desertification process that officials estimate threatens as much as 93 per cent of the land. Today, Argentina is no longer a major wool producer – and Australia could suffer a similar fate.

Pesticides and insecticides are often used on sheep to keep them free of parasites. Once sheep have been shorn, their wool is scoured and washed using chemicals, which can also contaminate nearby water sources.

“Sheep dip” pesticides cause soil contamination and water pollution, while the use of dangerous organophosphate chemicals in the 1990s left many sheep farmers with debilitating health conditions.

On top of the wool trade’s horrendous environmental impact, sheep suffer terribly in the industry. PETA has released video exposés recorded at nearly 100 facilities on four continents revealing that sheep are mutilated, abused, and skinned alive – even for “responsibly sourced” wool on disingenuously named “sustainable” farms.