The Heathers have all kinds of animals including pigs which they take care of. PHOTO: JUNGLEFARM/22021147
Cartoon character Homer Simpson has taught me many life lessons.
Cartoon character Homer
Simpson has taught me many life lessons.
“This Doughnut has purple
inside – purple is a fruit!” is my personal favourite, and has saved me from
eating anything healthy. But there is one thing which I cannot forgive Homer
for, the insinuation that an animal that could provide bacon, ham and pork
chops had to be a magical creature. Pigs of course are real, and humans are
very lucky that is the case.
Pigs and humans have a very
long association, stretching back nearly 10,000 years. And in that time I would
warrant that no species of animal has suffered more, or been more maligned by
people. “Pigs are dirty”, “you smell like a pig”, “your room is a pigsty”, “you
have the manners of a pig”. How did these intelligent, caring, compassionate
and useful animals fall into such a position of contempt? And why?
I think pigs are so
contemptable because of their usefulness. They can live in close association
with us and thrive off what we leave behind. Our table scraps, our discarded
shelters, and our discarded land, and pigs thrive. So, we cram them into a tiny
area, and they have no choice but to live in mess. And we benefit greatly from
them. A great source of protein, producing large numbers of fast-growing
offspring each year.
We can do a lot of things to
help pigs. And it isn’t hard.
“You’re sweating like a pig”
literally means you are not sweating at all. Pigs can’t sweat, they have no sweat
glands. To keep cool they wallow, “happy as a pig in mud” is one of the few
true pig related sayings. Providing shade and a wallow helps pigs greatly, they
can keep cool. They also need fresh water to drink, like us they are not keen
to drink their own bath water.
Many pigs are tethered, which
can be a great way to contain them. But mud and rope can be a fatal mix. The
tether will get tighter and tighter and eventually cut into the skin,
eventually cutting off the foot if not dealt to. The pain and suffering can be
avoided by removing these tethers before they get too tight.
Piglets are often batched
together in small pens after weaning. Often there are some big ones and some
little ones. All in together. The big ones get more of the food and get bigger.
The small ones don’t grow. The big ones then get even more of the food, the
small ones start to fade, and starve. For this reason, it is always best to
sort piglets by size, matching small with small and large with large. They all
do better as a result, and if one grows too fast, or falls back, the groups
should be rearranged.
I mentioned how clever pigs
are. “Pig-headed” is another bad adjective. They are easy to train, responsive
to affection and very quick learners.
All in all pigs are great. They
are a wonderful, magical animal. Turns out I do agree with Homer after all.
Baer, Te Are Manu Vet Clinic medical director