Humane Being's S.C.R.A.P. Library
How Factory Farming Harms People, Planet and Animals

🐖  Focus on pigs as a disease risk

Factory farming Business as usual creates this problem

Pig mortality - death by design

Average pre-weaning mortality
Average finishing herd mortality 7-110 kg)
5.9% (after subtracting the pre-weaned dead)
Average finishing herd size (rearing and feeding combined)
3559 pigs
Average days to slaughter
183 days
Total pigs slaughtered in the UK in 2018

1.8 million pigs will die at some point between birth and slaughter at 6 months

Using the mortality and slaughter figures above, this means that 1.8 million pigs will die at some point between birth and slaughter at 6 months This is not a marker of good animal husbandry, health and welfare

The legal weaning age in the UK for piglets is 28 days.

“The legal weaning age in the UK for piglets is 28 days. Average weaning age is actually around 25-27 days, which means many piglets are weaned under the legal age. In 2018, 28% of herds weaned piglets between 20-25 days, and 69% between 25-33 days.”
🔗 Source: UK pig facts and figures
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"Post weaning diarrhoea is extremely common in pigs, and agents involved usually include Escherichia coli and Salmonella species. Salmonella typhimurium is the most commonly diagnosed Salmonella strain in pigs, and is zoonotic. Neomycin became a first choice for our pig herds, which is an aminoglycoside antibiotic commonly used in human medicine.“

🔗 Source: Former UK pig vet

“Research has shown that abrupt weaning, which involves a drastic change in diet and environment, can cause a loss of microbial diversity and an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut. Furthermore, genomic studies have found a dramatic increase in Escherichia coli in the pigs’ small intestines after receiving antibiotics. E. coli is responsible for half of all piglet deaths worldwide. An animal’s environment also plays a critical role in developing a diverse and healthy microbiome. Past studies , for example, found that a pig’s microbiome can be influenced by something as simple as the presence of straw. Having straw in the environment led to a different ratio of gut bacteria in pigs, and straw has been associated with a lower risk of developing porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome”
🔗 Source: Drug resistance: Does antibiotic use in animals affect human health?

So how serious is this?

Post weaning diarrhoea (PWD) is one of the most serious threats for the swine industry worldwide. It is commonly associated with the proliferation of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli in the pig intestine. Colistin, a cationic antibiotic, is widely used in swine for the oral treatment of intestinal infections caused by E. coli , and particularly of PWD. However, despite the effectiveness of this antibiotic in the treatment of PWD, several studies have reported high rates of colistin resistant E. coli in swine. Furthermore, this antibiotic is considered of very high importance in humans, being used for the treatment of infections due to multidrug resistant (MDR) Gram negative bacteria (GNB). Moreover, the recent discovery of the MCR 1 gene encoding for colistin resistance in Enterobacteriaceae on a conjugative stable plasmid has raised great concern about the possible loss of colistin effectiveness. Stocking density reduction could be considered as a paramount strategy to decrease occurrence of PWD as well as other diseases in pigs [ 91 ].”
🔗 Source: Post-weaning diarrhoea in pigs: risk factors and non-colistin based control strategies

Lameness in UK pigs shows how the combination real world practice of modern factory farming is especially toxic.

Here the Red Tractor measure for an on-farm assessment, show a mix of expedient common practice and malpractice combine to turn risks in to issues

“The most common form of infectious lameness in UK pigs is Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Susceptibility to infectious joint disease is increased by excessive growth rates, inappropriate diet, lack of bedding or hard floors/slats, slippy flooring and concurrent injury. M. hyo is actually spread via the respiratory system so air quality and ventilation also play a part in this widespread problem. Almost all lameness is treated with antibiotics in commercial pigs, and given that this most common form is infectious, it can often affect a significant proportion of a group and require metaphylactic treatment. It also causes significant welfare problems. From AHDB Pork: “Osteochondrosis (cartilage damage in the joint) can be due to fast growth; pigs fed on a diet containing less daily energy than would be consumed ad lib had significantly less joint disease at slaughter. Pigs housed on slatted or non bedded floors have higher prevalence of bursae and associated lameness, especially when floors are poorly maintained.”
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