let's talk farm animals

Our contract with pigs

by  Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural ambassador

A number of conversations between a father and his son about why they follow the specific farming practices they did led to the writing of a fable which stretches back to the times before animals were domesticated.

Bob Hunsberger, a pig farmer from Ontario, and his son Kyle, decided to write an explanation showing the evolution of farming practices which have lead us to where we are today.  Writing the document has helped the Hunsbergers answer questions they are asked about animal agriculture and about the farming practices being used with pigs.

“Speaking in a broad, evolutionary sense, the success of the human species on the planet hasn’t just been a success for humans.  There are a number of species that we’ve brought along with us because they’re our buddies and pigs are one of those species,” says Bob.

Bob has always had pigs on the farm, and has seen the benefits to the animals which have came with the modern farming practices.  He and Kyle wrote the fable mainly for themselves, to help reaffirm their feelings about what is best for the pigs.  They both believe modern practices have brought a large number of benefits for domesticated animals.

Bob remembers the days of having several pigs on the farm that lived outdoors and ate foods such as the fallen apples in the orchard.  He says today’s pigs are healthier and more productive being raised in modern barns with balanced diets.

Bob and Kyle showed the contract to several of Kyle’s friends, and to a few others in the industry.  This is the first time the contract has been shared on a large basis.

Our Contract With Pigs

A long time ago in a land far, far away, the pigs lived and roamed in the forests and meadows.  They were free and they were happy but they were not content because they perceived that they could be more. 

They knew that their lot in life was to be prey for carnivores and they accepted that for they, themselves, were sometimes predators of smaller creatures.  But when they assessed their situation they realized that they were not prospering as a species.  Their females had one litter each year with two or three, or maybe four, piglets.  Frequently, one piglet was eaten by a hawk or a fox.  One might be taken partly grown, by lions and tigers and bears, or maybe by humans.  Few, if any, of the species died of old age.

The pigs noticed that when they were killed by lions and tigers and bears they were run down and jumped on and torn apart.  It was a terrifying and agonizing death.  When they were killed by humans, they were ambushed and hit with arrows or spears and death was swift and they never saw it coming.  So they approached the humans with a proposition to form a pact.  Eventually the pact was formalized into a contract.

The basic terms of the contract were these:

1. The pigs agreed to become domestic animals.
2. The humans would use their technology to help the pigs prosper as a species.
3. The pigs would help to advance human causes by providing food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and video tape.
4. The humans would provide the pigs succor, safety and comfort.
5. The pigs had the right to retain their cultural identity.
6. When the time should come to be killed, they must never see it coming.

The contract continues in force to this day.  We must live up to the terms it provides.


Posted by FFC on June 17th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Farm life,Feeding the world,Pigs,Pork,Sustainability of the family farm
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