Poor Piggy

Last night, we accidentally tuned in to a show on SBS (an Australian Free-air TV network that shows mostly foreign shows) about the “life story” of a Pig. The title of the Netherlands/Flemish documentary was “Piggy – 110 Kilos in 25 Weeks.” I tried to look for a webpage on this but can’t find any on Google. Maybe the title is different in the native tongue in the Netherlands.

Anyway, the show started with the birth of the “hero” of the story: a piglet. Apparently, the name of the piglet was “Knor” but that wasn’t made explicitly known to the viewers in SBS’s English version of the film. He was soooo cute. He and his siblings immediately went to their mother to suckle.

Suckle, suckle, suckle

So far, so good, right? Well, that is, until the third day came around. Mr Farmer dropped by while our hero was busy suckling. Then suddenly, the farmer started pulling Knor’s siblings away and putting them in a small enclosed space. Mother pig began squeeling almost like begging Mr Farmer to return her babies to her. Her cries were ignored.

What came afterwards was actually horrific, for me. I didn’t grew up near a farm so I didn’t know what was involved in caring for farm animals. When I was watching what I’m about to describe, I was actually howling and grimacing in sympathised pain. Look at the pics and read the captions below each:

Mr Farmer held Knor between his legs while Knor squeeled in pain. Why?

Because Mr Farmer was cutting his tail off.

Mr Farmer said it was for the piglet’s own good. No further explanation was given on the film.

While still in pain from the tail-cutting, Knor is injected with a big syringe (probably with vaccine). Not once, but twice!

After the painful ordeal, they were returned to their mother. Knor consoled himself by more suckling, naturally. There is more pain to came for young Knor though. A few days later, Mr Farmer visited them again.

Mr Farmer has set up his “implements” nearby

“Uh, oh. This can’t be good.”

Mr Farmer props up Knor for the operation

Mr Farmer castrates Knor!

According to the film, the castration was done so that the pig will not grow to have the smell of a boar. The idea was still unnerving. After the castration, liquid I assume to be some sort of disinfectant was poured over the “wound” of the piglet. The finished piglets huddled together in a corner afterwards shivering. Whether this was because of pain or sorrow (if pigs do feel sorrow), I don’t know.

It was basically a story of how a pig starts out as a piglet and ends on our plates. So, the story continued for the better part without anymore shedding of blood. That is, until near the end when it’s time for the pigs to get slaughtered.

The mature pigs were cleansed with showers inside a big warehouse type building. Then they were lined up on a machine that basically stuns them. After being stunned, they fall to a chute and slide to a conveyor belt where a worker slashes the pig’s throat. Then the dead pigs are cleaned further and hung. Afterwards, they are sliced into pieces, ready to be delivered to your friendly neighborhood supermarket.

I must admit that I like eating pork and after watching this film, it’s now making me think twice about eating pork. I’m not sure about the availability of this documentary elsewhere but if you can get hold of it, you should see it. If you’re in Australia, watch out for it on SBS in case they show it again. Who knows?

Here is the detailed description of the show as listed on SBS’s website on this page:

Program Details : Thursday 31 March 2005, 08:30 pm
Documentary (Netherlands/Flemish)

This program gives a detailed picture of the life of Knor, a pig. For centuries, pigs had close ties to humanity. In the past decades, however, the existence of pigs has largely been kept hidden. We don’t see them anymore. When we are confronted with pigs, it is at the butcher’s or on the shelves in the supermarket where they are neatly divided into servings and packaged in plastic. Knor is born on a breeding farm in the northern Netherlands. After a few days, his tail is clipped and he is castrated. Together with his brothers and sisters, Knor spends the first ten weeks of his life on the breeding farm. Dramatic change enters his life when he is moved to the pig farm owned by Geert Roossien in Anevelde. Here, Knor spends the next 15 weeks of his life, in the company of 1600 other pigs. The end, when it comes, is as much a surprise to Knor as it is to the viewer. (From the Netherlands, in Flemish with English subtitles) CC.

Published in: on April 1, 2005 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment