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Pigs: from functional unit to family friends Larch Maxey Department of Geography University of Wales Swansea.

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Presentation on theme: "Pigs: from functional unit to family friends Larch Maxey Department of Geography University of Wales Swansea."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pigs: from functional unit to family friends Larch Maxey Department of Geography University of Wales Swansea

2 Outline of Presentation Research Aims and Methodology Pig Farming in context Case Studies Roles Pigs play Relationships Policy Changes Future Research

3 Research Aims and Methodology Investigate the different roles and relationships pigs and farmers perform across different farming scales Original aim to include ‘factory farms’. Participant Observation and Semi- structured Interviews 7 sites, 10 interviews, so far…!

4 Pigs’ Sustainable History Ancestor sus scrofa, the Eurasian wild pig Wild Boars British woodlands C17th (Now!) Live 12 years wean 12 weeks range Ha over 6 months Sustainable part of agriculture for 1000’s years

5 Pigs are intelligent "Pigs are amongst the most intelligent animals on Earth" (Curtis, Prof. An.Sci.Penn.1999) They can be taught to sit, pirouette, shake hands, complete complex obstacle courses, play bugle horns, sing Christmas carols and by gripping a joystick with their snouts are even capable of playing complex video games. "Things we used to think were totally human, we find these animals are capable of doing as well."

6 When Pigs get Big: From Sustainable to Fordist Agriculture 50% world meat consumption UK 16 million slaughtered/year (1998 MAFF) 95% pigs reared for meat ‘factory farmed’ ‘The number of truly free range piglets is so small there isn't a figure - almost all piglets are reared intensively’ (Fowler,T MLC) Farrowing Crates/weaned 3 weeks/antibiotics e.g. The Mother Cagewww.viva.org.uk

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8 Roles Pigs play Soil Cultivation: ‘As an organic farmer I have to look after the soil structure, pigs help cultivate the soil and feed the soil. Pigs are perfect, they just fit in, they are an integral part.’ Ed Revill, Jade Gate 7 year rotation between green manure & potatoes allow 1 horse cultivation by removing green cover

9 Roles Pigs play Additional Income Grazing Manure Food Woodland Management Getting Planning Permission!

10 ‘Pigs are special’ (Penny, Lampeter) Intelligent, individual, human-like! ‘They make me laugh’ (Alan, Caermynydd) Survivors: ‘Lambs love dying on you, but pigs are great, they have so much spirit’ (Helen Tongue, WBPBA) ‘When they’re babies they’ve got little upturned pointed noses, oh, they’re really, really cute!’ (Linda, Gower)

11 Relationships with Pigs From Love to a ‘deep, deep respect’ (Helen Tongue) All breeding stock had names ‘I would pack it in if I lost my sense of playing with the pigs, for me its all about enjoying the animals.’ (John, Caermynydd)

12 oh, the first batch of babies I used to sit in the pig sty every day and let them run all over me, basically, and they became quite tame and mummy and daddy are very tame. One day daddy boar, Mr. Pooh as we call him, there were a couple of bales of straw and he’d actually got up on his hind legs and he was standing next to me. I had my elbows on one of the bales and he had he paws on one of the bales and we were both looking over at the piglets! (Linda, Gower)

13 I had lovely relationships with the pigs and they’re very easy to have relationships with because they’re sociable and very loyal and once they’ve accepted you they really look forward to seeing you, they respond to you and they’ve always been gentle with me, but they do run towards you, so once I got pregnant I started worrying that they would knock me on my bum. (Alithea, Casterling)

14 ‘I don’t like the system of farming animals. I don’t like the idea of deceiving them, I believe meat raised in such a way, rather than in the wild, is unhealthy.’ factory farming: pollution, slaughter houses ‘There is a major benefit for having livestock, but I see them as friends and don’t want to kill and eat them.’ Ed Revill (Jade Gate)

15 People come from the city, get a bit of land and say, ‘oh I don’t know if we could kill them for ourselves!’ ‘Get that out of your head straight away,’ I said. ‘You sell them to somebody you do not know how they are gonna treat these animals, how they are gonna behave with them, are they gonna kick ‘em, hit ‘em, they could be transported miles to abattoirs.’ (John Williams)

16 As far as I’m concerned I’ve gone down the legal route, you know, I’ve got my own smallholding No. I’ve got my herd No. and I hope I comply with all the regulations, I have read all the information I’ve received. But at the end of the day in doing that I’ve taken my pigs to market I’ve got a pound each for them, you’re talking porkers, pound each, free range organic! You know, it just broke my heart. And I’ve decided not to do that any more because they’re going to slaughter anyway so I might as well have them for the freezer. So I have them slaughtered here at home and in the freezer they go and I parcel up bits and pieces as presents, some people just had some for Christmas, which is really nice. (Linda)

17 Reconciling Tensions A: I cried through the first bacon sandwich B: We both did LJM: Really? A: yes we both sat there through the first bacon sandwich eating and crying at the same time. That was because we loved the pigs and we knew who it was we were eating, but at the same time it was delicious and lovely. B: Powerful wasn’t it, a special moment! (Bobby & Alithea, Casterling)

18 Reconciling ? I was worried that I’d know which one I’m eating, but its not that apparent...I think that was a good thing about killing 6 at a go. I haven’t really treated them as pets for a long time, I mean daddy, the big boar, he’s really tame…he’s a real softy and when you scratch his back he squeals. I don’t know what I’m going to do with him, because its really going to be very hard to ‘terminate him’, but as Gareth says he’s got really nice hams and you think ‘oh God!’ You know, I might keep him as breeding stock. (Linda)

19 ‘My philosophy is: the animals are born here, they are looked after, they are not ill- treated they’re taken a short distance up the road, they’re humanely killed, you eat ‘em and you know exactly what they’ve had to eat. You go and buy meat, you don’t know what’s in it.’ (John Williams)

20 Mortality Ed Revill (Jade Gate) Native American (and other) traditions – spiritual connection with animals, part of a cycle. ‘Our culture increasingly wants to be immortal, we forget that our own bodies are just bits of clay, instead they become things we get attached to’

21 ‘with the way we are, hopefully, raising our pigs it felt like an honouring of the animal. It felt as though we were part of a big cycle and we were the end product of that cycle and we will go back to the earth one day.’ (Alithea, Casterling)

22 I think if animals ruled the earth they’d be eating humans, that’s the way it is. (John Williams)

23 ‘I guess the thing to do is maintain that isn’t it? The danger is with familiarity you lose that connection if you’re doing it week in week out. But I think it helps if you’re small scale like we are and you’re always looking after your animals, you have to know your animals.’ (Bobby, Casterling)

24 Knowing and doing ‘I don’t think any amount of training with animals could really prepare you for what its like to actually have them on your land and be responsible for them, because when they are yours and your livelihood, everything that happens to them matters. You really don’t know what its like until you do it.’ (Alithea, Casterling)

25 Constraints Supermarkets: Grading, fat probing, penalties ‘My problem is getting them to the slaughterhouse. I have a tagging machine, but I find it very difficult to handle them on my own to tag them. Also when I took them to market they became quite distressed.’ (Linda) Prices fluctuate: Dk. exports Abbatoirs/S-mkts Regulations!!! Farmer’s Markets too labour intensive ‘It’s a long old day’ (John, Caermynydd)

26 Sustainable Pigs: Policy Changes I think we need someone with farming experience to be in the ministry of agriculture! (John Williams) Tolerant regulations e.g. John, Caermynydd ‘People like me, I could be supplying some of the local restaurants and some of the local neighbourhoods.’ (Linda) Education: ‘It’s surprising the number of families who’ve never seen pigs running free, or even alive!’ (Windham Stock, ATF)

27 Conclusions Complex relationships not from functional unit to friend = both and more simultaneously! Pigs have been a valuable part of sustainable agriculture for millennia and still are in many places UK/Welsh sustainable pig production is achievable: action at every scale from individual eaters and farmers through local authorities to central government.

28 Larch Maxey Department of Geography University of Wales Swansea


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