The damage Pig Farming is doing to the Environment and how you can avoid playing a part
Australia's pig industry rears and kills 5 million pigs a year. 94% of them are raised in factory farms, with the main producers located in NSW. Suffering for the pigs raised here is an inevitable daily experience but what many people do not realise is the environmental damage that occurs from these farms.
The pig waste management in the majority of Australian pork producers is to let, urine, faces, chemicals and wash run out from the giant sheds through pipes, directly, untreated into large open air"ponds".
Lets get clear, these are big pools of shit. Remembering that pigs create 5 times as much waste as humans do and that these factory farms have, tens of thousands plus, of pigs on them.
So there are huge pools of poo, carrying millions and millions of litres of toxic waste. Ponds do not provide a means of disposal of "effluent" as the pollution potential of the effluent leaving the pond is too high.
The "sludge" sits there decomposing and then the liquid matter can be sprayed onto land as fertiliser, allowing the pathogens from the waste to make their way into the food chain or to neighbouring properties by being airborne.
Plus, they stink. Not so nice to neighbouring properties.
The pollution from this extremely toxic waste can come from the forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens leaking or run offs into waterways and land and the air pollution from the ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide.
Australian pig farms emit 3.8 million tonnes of methane a year (3.7 billion kilograms)
The upside is Australia is trying to use new technologies to reduce the environmental impact of high amounts of this methane gas that occurs from these factory farms. In some farms they are covering the ponds to capture the large amounts of methane produced and are using it as an energy source or burning it via a flare to convert it into a less potent gas. It is a step in the right direction, however the real issue is the high amount of constant waste produced by these factory farms. Even when the methane is burned up for energy, the toxic "sludge" still remains a problem. If you did not check out my last post on the issues in North Carolina, please do to get an insight of potential issues if we continue in the same direction.
ARE YOU BUYING PORK FROM ETHICAL FARMERS?
If you choose to eat pig meat then you can make a statement on what you do and don't support with where you put your dollar. Buying free-range, pastured and if possible organic pig meat say "I care about the environment" and "I care about the animals welfare". It will mean the farms have the ability to use a outdoor, rotation system, that allows regeneration of the land and evenly spreads the waste of the pigs. When stocking densities are kept low and outdoors, the amount of waste is able to go onto the land without a problem, and without the high amounts of toxic bacteria created in an over populated factory shed.
When choosing to eat the meat from a pig, you should choose to buy from a farm where the pigs;
- have freedom to move in generous space, with low stocking densities
- live outside in nature
- are able to graze, fed no antibiotic/additives
- have the ability to root with their snout
- have protection from extreme weather
- are provided farrowing huts for the sows
- Get to keep their tails and teeth intact!
I have not been to these farms but will in the future and will add any recommendations I find. These below have been recommended on a few ethical websites;
BAROSSA HERITAGE PORK -Barrossa Valley markets
HAPPY VALLEY FREE RANGE FARM -Victorian farmers markets
THE GYPSY PIG -Mulgrave Farmers' Market, 2nd Sunday of each month, 8am - 1pm, Gasworks Farmers' Market, 3rd Saturday of each month, Slow Food Farmers' Market, 4th Saturday of each month.
MELANDA PARK -Feather and Bone, Marrickville, Harris Farms, Potts Point and Manly, Chop Shop Carnivorium, Hurlstone Park.
SHERWOOD ORGANIC MEATS BRISBANE
GRUB BUTCHER SYDNEY, VAUCLUSE
The below photo is the difference between a standard factory pig farm and a free-range, pastured pig farm.Which do you prefer?
BEING CLEAR ON THE PROCESS
Ultimately no matter how the individual animal was raised, it must be killed for you to eat its meat and therefor will be processed in a slaughter house. Just this week fresh inside images have been realised from one of Australias biggest pig processors, showing mistreatment of the animals.
It can be a challenge to open our eyes to what we do not "want" to see but information keeps us empowered when it comes to our food and our environment. I am sure, like me, you want to be part of the solution and not the problems. So dig deep and watch these couple of videos, I warn you upfront, they are upsetting. You do not see any animal being killed, but the awareness of these beings is something that brings such a sense of empathy and a most innate desire to help them in what ever way you feel right; whether that be not eating them, eating them less, choosing an ethical farmer, spreading the story and enabling others to make educated choices.
Australian Pig Farming is a website which has created a window into the pig industry in Australia. Go and check it out now. I wish that everyone in Australia would spend 5 minutes looking at this incredible website and then to see the change that would occur from the knowledge gained.