Animal welfare of farming pigs

The Danish Act on the protection of animals adopted in 1916 has set standards to animal welfare, that are subject to change according to the Ministry of Environment and Food.

By Vanesse Chan and Lazaros Theodoridis

Pig nose behind bars | Photo taken by

Survival rates among piglets are to be increased by 2020, corresponding to 2,2 million more piglets annually. Sows are to be housed in loose systems and gastric ulcers are to be dealt with. Surgical castration and tail docking are to be reduced due to being painful and ineffective. Also, consumers should be informed and take the responsibility of choosing products that support better animal welfare.

The Danish Crown is a global meat processing company and the largest pork processor in Europe. In 1999, Friland became part of the Danish Crown Group as a subsidiary, specialising in organic meat production while ensuring the animals’ welfare. Non-organic meat products carry a ‘Recommended by the Danish Animal Welfare Society’ label for which the farm has to be inspected annually.

Also,the Danish veterinary inspection is one of the strictest in the world, both in the primary farming industry and at the slaughterhouses according to the HACCP principles.

Animal welfare of pigs faces problems such as tail docking, castration without anesthesia, killing piglets by beating them against the ground, high mortal rates, gastric ulcers and confined fixed boxes for sows.

In nature, pigs are social, playful, clean animals and can reach fifteen years old.

They are so clever and loving animals and it is heartbreaking seeing them in farms”, says Isabella Tatiana Béatrice Earthling, member of the Vegan Change group based in Copenhagen.

In the industry, sows are fixed and clamped in a fication box, the piglets are painfully tail-docked and castrated without anesthesia. Additionally, piglets are born small, weak or underdeveloped due to excessive breeding.

Slaughter pigs are fed with high energy concentrates, resulting in suffering from gastric ulcer. In the slaughterhouse, pigs walk on slatted floors and get beaten to be marked.

The law does not require enough employment and rooting material as the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration‘s annual inspection in 2013 concludes.

Denmark the giant pork producer

Denmark, as one of the world largest pig meat exporters, produce massive pork for local consumption and export. The pork export counts for the majority, which is around 28 million pigs every year.

The pork meat industry is important to the national economy because it exports 90% of the pork products to other EU and Asian countries. Also, the companies export live piglets to Germany and UK.

There are around 5000 pig farms in Denmark, The biggest pork companies are Danish Crown and Tican. They have their own slaughterhouse to kill the pigs.The companies produce processed pork and transport living piglets overseas. In early 2018, Danish pork export has increased by 8%, while 97% of the exported live pigs are weaners.

Made by Vanesse Chan

According to the Ministry of Environmental and Food of Denmark, Danish processed meat is now allowed in Chinese market. The new policy will be another huge market for Danish pork industry to expand their business across the globe.

Campaign raising animal ethics awareness

Vegan Change, which is an NGO which fights for animal rights, organised a series of protests in Denmark to raise the citizens’ awareness of animal ethics. They have organised some protests in Copenhagen in the past week.

The campaign started in Aarhus. A few of Vegan Change members came together and started the campaign, and now it has expanded to other cities in Denmark, including Denmark’s capital Copenhagen.

Protestors exhibited slogans and signs to show how animals are treated in a bad way in the animal industry. Slogans like ‘Animals aren’t ours’ and ‘Be kind. Don’t support animal cruelty’ were shown.

Photo taken by Vanesse Chan

Some people were curious and stopped to see the signs, the protestors explained that

how eating pigs causes animal ethics issues. ‘Buying meat is helping the company to slaughter the animals,’ the protester told the pedestrians.

Isabella, one of the organisers of the protest, said the protest has effectively raised people’s awareness, as people came and asked about what they were doing. She also explained how the animal meat industry treats animal in a bad manner.

They [the animals] have the right to live freely as well as we do. There is no rights for us to take them away,’ she added.

This story is written for an audience in Denmark and could be published on