In April 2007 the New Zealand Open Rescue Collective investigated an Auckland pig farm and found animals in disturbing conditions. Sows and piglets were documented confined in farrowing pens. Hundreds of cockroaches were seen crawling the walls of these pens.
The farrowing pens were covered in faeces which the piglets walked through constantly. Many of the piglets seemed to be covered in faeces and blood. The amount of faeces present in the shed created high levels of ammonia which made breathing difficult during our investigation.
The narrow shed housed sows which were either physically ill or psychologically disturbed. Some sows remained lethargic in their pens, not moving at all as the investigators walked past them, inspecting the conditions. Other sows thrashed around in their individuals stalls, throwing their bodies against the bars and displaying "dog-sitting", a sign of severe psychological disturbance in pigs.
The investigators saw several dead piglets. Some were emaciated and had obviously died of starvation. Other piglets looked weak and lethargic, barely moving and huddled away from the group in the corners of their pens. One piglet had a severe leg disorder. She dragged one of her hind legs behind her, was unable to weight-bare on it and squealed constantly in pain and distress.
All of the piglets had recently had half or more of their tails cut off. The stumps of their tails were still open and bleeding. The intensive pig industry routinely tail docks piglets because under intensive conditions pigs exhibit "tail biting". This is a form of cannibalism where pigs bite and chew at other pigs tails. Tail biting is a result of frustration and boredom due to a barren, artificial environment.
During the investigation, the team found documentation stating that the farm is a research unit for Massey University’s Monogastric Research Centre.
Each year around 800, 000 pigs are factory farmed in New Zealand. They are kept in extreme confinement and never get to see the sunlight or breath fresh air.