10 JUNE, SINGAPORE: Pigs are said to be very intelligent animals. If they had a choice, they’d probably prefer to be living in China.
During a recent trip to Shantou, a city located in the industrial/agricultural district of Guangdong about 175 miles/285 km East of Hong Kong, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the cleanest and happiest pigs in the world.
They were cared for by an elderly farmer who pampered them as if they were his pets.
He was raising them for sale on the local organic meat market, so their diet included lots of vegetables free of any artificial additives.
Not only were they well-fed, but they also enjoyed a clean and spacious pen with plenty of room to move about. For naps they could stretch out and relax on the cool clean cement floor.
For relieving themselves they instinctively used an adjacent pen designated for that purpose.
Speaking with their keeper I learned that once they are ready for slaughter they fetch an attractive market price due to the growing demand for quality organic pork in the People’s Republic of China.
Meanwhile in my home state of New Jersey the factory-production regulations allow for pigs to be kept in small crates, also known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) . In such crates the pigs haven’t even got enough room to turn around, much less lay down. I dare not think what additives are mixed into their food.
In 2014 Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of such crates.
Who would have thought that an industrial area in China was treating pigs more humanely than American farmers?
As it often happens, global travel once again reveals that in places where you would least expect it, people are doing things that some say are impracticable, if not impossible.
There is a better way.
All images property of the author Thomas Timlen. If you wish to use them please send a request.