Proposed sow confinement facility may not be what is best for pigs


Dear editor:

Should the MPCA grant a permit to Catalpa LLC for a 4,980-sow confinement facility here in Fillmore County? Let’s ask a pig. Transcribed here is a blatantly fictitious interview with a gilt named Miss Falona. She graciously agreed to share her thoughts while being prepared for shipment to a large sow confinement facility.

INTERVIEWER: Miss F, what do you think of the accommodations offered at your new residence?

MISS F: Thanks for asking! Honestly, spending my next four years behind bars in a 6.5 x 2 foot gestation crate does not appeal to my nature. For starters, I won’t be able to lie down properly. I’ll have to kneel on a concrete floor. Talk about uncomfortable? You know, we pigs were designed to root and roam in the wide-open spaces. When we lie down we like to stretch out every which way. Uumph. Nothing beats a deep bed of straw or an ooey-gooey mud wallow for that. Oink. Add in thousands of cramped up squealing sows and it’s no sweet symphony, let me tell you. There’ll be nothing but more bars between us as the long hours stretch ahead. To pass the time, there is weaving, rubbing ourselves against the bars and chewing them, of course.

INTERVIEWER: What about becoming a mother? You’ll be protected inside, won’t you?

MISS F: Here’s how that works. When it is time for me to give birth, I’ll be moved to what’s called a farrowing crate. It’s just a bit bigger than the gestation crate so I can lie on my side to get into birthing position. There’s a side cage attached to it for my piglets. They can reach their tiny snouts through the cage and nurse, but because we are separated, I won’t get to lick or nuzzle them or teach them things every little piggy should know. After three weeks I’m moved back to the #%^! gestation crate. My babies are sent off to a “finishing” barn. I never see them again. For the next four years, this birthing thing will happen twice a year. Then I myself will be sent off to a “packing house” and turned into pork products. By that time I’m sure I’ll be ready to go. If I don’t make it that far, there’s something called an “animal mortality composting building” nearby. It’s built to hold over 500 bodies at a time. Hmmm.

INTERVIEWER: How do you plan to stay healthy without sunshine, fresh air and exercise?

MISS F: Fresh air? I’ll be standing over a massive lagoon of manure that’s generated 24-seven.  My eyes will burn and water from the ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide gases. Besides these awful smells, bacteria, dust, mold and other foul stuff gets into our lungs. So it’s antibiotics to the rescue and I’ll get dosed with them to a fare-thee-well. Snort. Do you humans ever think about what all this does to the end product we become? I’m talking here about the bacon, ribs and other porky stuff you seem to crave. As far as sunshine and exercise goes, are you kidding me? I don’t have a plan.

INTERVIEWER: But some say this is the future of animal ag.

MISS F: If that stands for Animal Agony, I agree. If that makes me a pugnacious pig, then so be it.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynne Farmer (“Interviewer”)