Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

Hog Battle

There’s a nasty virus spreading in the pork industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PED virus) infects piglets under 4 weeks of age and has a 100 percent mortality rate. At present there is no vaccine for PED although the pork industry says that research is underway. The virus has been running loose in the U.S. since last year and is taking a heavy toll on herds.

On February 20, 2014 the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released an undercover video showing the pork industry’s current method of attempts to control the virus. The video showed overflowing boxes of dead piglets being eviscerated and the intestines of the piglets are then ground up to be fed back to the mother pigs (sows).

Although I’ve simplified the scenario above suffice it to say that reactions to the issue have broken out in a war of words between the industry and those who condemn the practice. The issue is quite a conundrum for me and I’ve mixed emotions about the issue.

The HSUS video brought on a disgusting thought process for me. Thinking about dead baby pig intestines being ground up and fed back to their mother’s is just plain gross! I’m not alone in my thoughts and most who’ve viewed the video are shocked.

On the other hand, the pork industry has come out swinging with reactionary measures of explanation. Baby piglets are dying by the millions from the PED virus. The virus doesn’t discriminate between large or small farms. Infected piglets suffer a horrible death from acute diarrhea. The practice of grinding up the intestines of dead infected piglets, known as “feedback”, is fed to the sows in an attempt to expose them to the virus in the hopes of building immunities and passing them on to future piglets.

The conundrum!

Not one who readily accepts explanations to something that has horrified me I had to look further in an attempt to get to the bottom of things. Being an animal lover I would not be able to stand by and watch millions of baby pigs die a horrible death without any attempt to do something about it.

There are several arguments out there against the “feedback” practice mostly being along the line of “consequences of industrial animal agriculture” (a payback). Most often I would agree with this however the best I can conclude is that the PED virus is affecting all types of hog operations.

Some industry experts claim the HSUS video is another attempt by the organization to stop the raising of animals for consumption. In this case pork! True or not, it isn’t going to happen.

Efforts toward development of a vaccine include utilizing the virus in some method of exposure to build immunity. Awaiting the development of a vaccine and approval by FDA will take time. Lots of time! According to some reports, the industry has already spent $1 million toward research.

I have to wonder how much has been spent and will be spent toward exposure of the “feedback” practice and reactionary measures by industry. In my humble opinion that money could be better spent! Maybe along the lines of finding answers to combat and stop the PED virus in its tracks! It appears that might be the more humane thing to do instead of wasting precious time and money arguing while piglets continue to die.

Comments on: "Hog Battle" (2)

  1. That is a little creepy, but then so is using maggots to clean wounds… nature doesn’t care if she turns our stomachs, lol.

    I find it frustrating that the confinement pork industry fights to eradicate pastured pork and heritage breeds yet they continue to breed and house pigs in an extremely precarious manner. They cry foul that pastured pigs pose a possible threat to their stock, but who’s posing the real danger? I can’t think of a better way to incubate and spread a disease than to confine tons of similarly bred pigs into a small space. Add poor ventilation, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise and why are we surprised?

    If their pigs need so much pampering to survive, we’re backing the wrong horse by favoring intensive farming methods over pasture and fresh air.


  2. Hello Young Farmer Lady,
    You probably don’t know me but I am known as the Joel Salatin of the Midwest. Like Polyface farm we are a large ranch/farm, 1100 acres in southern Missouri and raise and market all our own beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy and more with over 2000 head of cattle sheep and goats. Our meat label is Real Farm Foods and is well known in our area. I have been following you since Food Inc and I think you are incredible. We are a growing family operation and always looking for talented people particularly out spoken food and humane animal people. If you think you would ever consider a move to Missouri I would like to talk to you about becoming a part of Real Farm Foods.
    Call me if you desire.
    Cody Holmes
    Real Farm Foods
    Norwood Missouri


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