No Animal Left Behind: the secret suffering of pigs on factory farms


No Animal Left Behind: the secret suffering of pigs on factory farms

22 May 2023

Pigs are farmed in their millions across Europe each year, a huge number of them in a living nightmare. Recent investigations by our members LAV and AnimaNaturalis, as well as Oikeutta Eläimille, highlight some of the awful conditions pigs are forced to face in industrial systems, pointing to an urgent need for the European Commission to create much stronger rules for their welfare.

Waking up each day in darkness. Living in filth with untreated wounds, unable to take care of your babies - or even to stand up properly. A lack of decent food or water. 

Anybody would shudder to imagine a life like this - yet it’s one that countless pigs have to endure each year, as current laws for their welfare are not strong or enforced enough to protect them from mistreatment and neglect on factory farms in the EU. 

Investigations by animal organisations across Europe highlight that the suffering of these pigs is an EU-wide issue that only EU-wide laws can sufficiently address - here are just three of them below. 

LAV: pigs are living in filth and being treated illegally in Italy

In the province of Cremona, Italy, LAV found around 3,000 pigs living in anguish. Their footage captures:

  • Pigs spending their days in disgusting conditions, surrounded by mice and cockroaches
  • The bodies of pigs being disposed of illegally
  • Pigs being beaten and treated violently
  • Pigs being mutilated illegally, for instance, by being castrated after being more than seven days old.

These injustices show just how urgently pigs need more specific laws for their welfare to be put in place - as well as means by which they can be enforced - as without these regulations, their suffering and neglect on factory farms is immense.

Read LAV’s official press release on this investigation here.

AnimaNaturalis: sows are suffering in cages with their piglets

A series of haunting images by AnimaNaturalis expose a sliver of the misery pigs are exposed to on factory farms in Spain.

Taken in 2021, these images show sows lying on their side, crammed into tiny cages where they can barely take care of themselves - let alone their piglets.


In nature, a ‘mother pig’ would nurture her young by building comfortable nests for them, yet AnimaNaturalis’ images show that on factory farms, piglets are living in barren conditions, immersed in filth and decay. It’s a completely unnatural habitat for both mother and child.


In these industrial systems, sows are often forced to have between 10 - 12 litters of piglets a year. Treated like machines, these poor sentient beings live in a near-constant state of boredom, frustration and stress. The European Commission must create much stronger laws that allow these innocent pigs to express their natures and have their needs met.

Sign AnimaNaturalis’ petition to end factory farming here.

Oikeutta Eläimille: pigs are neglected and in pain in Finland

Footage captured across Finland reveals plenty of nasty truths about the way pigs are raised on factory farms without adequate animal welfare standards to protect them.

This footage shows: 

  • Sows with severe untreated injuries
  • Pigs and piglets suffering with deep wounds and scratches
  • Dead pigs abandoned in corridors and left outside in tractor buckets
  • Pigs living in unhygienic and extremely cramped conditions, where frustration grows quickly and diseases spread fast.

It’s critical that all animals are able to live in as natural a way as possible for their welfare needs to be met. Clearly, the standards for living set by factory farms do not fit the bill. The European Commission must ensure all farmed pigs in the EU have access to clean and enriching spaces where they can lead the kind of fulfilling lives they - like all sentient beings - deserve. 

Sign Oikeutta Eläimille’s petition for better welfare laws for pigs here.

The welfare of pigs must be taken more seriously in the revised animal welfare legislation. Do you agree?

Pigs are intelligent, caring and curious animals that need access to the outdoors, adequate stimulation and nutrition, and the capacity to socialise and rest when they feel like it. The way in which they are currently reared on European factory farms simply is not good enough. European policymakers must take into account all the latest animal welfare science and case studies to draw up new laws for pigs in their ongoing revision to the animal welfare legislation. It’s time to put an end to this suffering once and for all. 

This year, we’re calling for no animal to be left behind in the updated animal welfare legislation. Add your voice to our call for change.