On CAFOs — chickens and pigs

Pigs enjoying their lives in the barnyard.
Pigs enjoying their lives in the barnyard.

I was ahead of my time back in the mid-60s writing a book about a chicken CAFO called Chicken 10,000 — she escapes and discovers “life as well as a living,” not that she had much of a living in the CAFO. Anyway, the town of Petersburg near us, which boasts Lincoln’s New Salem, is fighting a 3,500-pig CAFO. I understand the locals don’t want it because of traffic, smell, and particularly tourism, and the other side wants it for profit, jobs – although how many jobs are supplied when 3,500 pigs can be fed by computer? I’ve been following this controversy and even wrote a letter to the editor, which they didn’t print, saying the only thing that is not being taken into consideration is the PIG. Pigs are smart. Given space, they defecate in the same place in their pens. Real farmers give them play toys, balls, things to keep their busy minds occupied while they fatten up for market or for breeding. Their little trotters are on the ground and their shovel noses are rooting into the ground. They are happy. I’ve never had a chance to question a CAFO pig, but it leaves its mom, who it never gets to know, and is shipped to a large building with slatted floors, and there, with a crowd of its peers, eats from an ever-full trough until it’s sent to market, almost certainly with hormones and antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease. I had numerous pet pigs, usually runt pigs raised on a bottle. They even knew how to open the back door screen and see if there was anything for them inside. What a life for a modern pig! I hope the Petersburg folk prevail.

One thought on “On CAFOs — chickens and pigs”

  1. I often think of your grandfather’s motto, “Life as well as a living,” while watching the world work to destroy itself. Feed a pig by computer–just because we CAN do it doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it.

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