Find out what really happens before the pigs become your breakfast, from sow stalls and farrowing crates to what's wrong with free range.
Sow stalls are metal cages which female pigs are confined to after being mated (or serviced, as the industry refers to it) by a male pig (boar) or artificially inseminated.
They remain in the stalls for between 6 weeks (as dictated by the Model Code of Practice 2007) and the full duration of their pregnancy (16 weeks). The stalls are barely large enough for a fully grown female pig to take a single step forward or backward, and they are unable to move sideways at all. As they can't move, they are forced to lie down in the same space where they urinate and defecate. Rather than individual feeding troughs, many sow stall sheds utilise long grooves or ditches that span across multiple stalls, where their bodily fluids can mix with the food.
Photo and footage taken from sow stall sheds in Australia shows harrowing images of pigs screaming and biting the bars of their stalls, frothing at the mouth and suffering from injuries such as swollen limbs, lameness, and open wounds. Starving the pigs - by limiting them to a single small feed daily - is sometimes done in order to induce early births.
The pig farming industry proudly states that it will be phasing out sow stalls from 2017, but this will not actually be a ban, just a reduction in the amount of time pigs will be forced to live in them. Female pigs will still be kept continuously in these cages for at least 5 days per pregnancy, and this limit will not be enforced or monitored because they are doing it "voluntarily". Around one week prior to giving birth, they are moved to even smaller cages inside farrowing crates, where they remain for approximately six weeks until their piglets are weaned, at which point the sow is re-impregnated and the process starts over.
The alternative to sow stalls in intensive pig farming is group housing. This system of housing allows female pigs to move in and out of the sow stalls and into a small area with other females, still within confineds area in large sheds. This method leads to more fighting between sows.
With all the attention on sow stalls, farrowing crates are often ignored, even though these still confine sows to cages the same size as, or even smaller than, sow stalls. The industry has no plans to phase out farrowing crates. Wally's Piggery was a sow-stall-free piggery.