In the midst of a winter that felt as though it came straight from Disney’s Frozen, two charming little girls made their way to Barn Sanctuary, melting hearts in the process. As luck would have it, these girls were left behind on the transport truck that had taken them away from their mothers to a facility that would raise them for slaughter.
Anna and Elsa were likely so overcome by the cold and stress of their journey they were unable to move off the truck with the others. Healing sores on their legs hint that they could have been frozen to the floor of the truck. When piglets appear ‘down’ or sick, sometimes they are left behind on purpose. Workers assume these piglets won’t make it, and so they’re left to be culled by those tasked with cleaning out the truck. Anna and Elsa, because of one person’s good heart, were taken in and nursed back to health. Their rescuer, who discovered them and took a risk to save their lives, fostered them for a week until we came to pick them up.
In the animal agriculture industry, pigs are raised for slaughter in a three-stage process. At sow farms, where mother pigs are confined to constricting farrowing and gestation crates, piglets are born and spend the first few weeks of their lives nursing from their mother. When they are just three or four weeks old, before they would naturally wean, piglets are taken from their mom and loaded into transport trucks or moved to a separate building on the property. This next stage is called ‘finishing’ and it is where the pigs will live for the next five to six months. Here, they are fed high-fat, high-protein food to encourage rapid weight gain. Once they reach ‘market weight’, the pigs are loaded back into a truck and taken to a slaughter facility.
It is not uncommon for young piglets to be left behind on transport trucks, or to find a way to jump from them during the journey from the sow farm to the finishing facility. At just a few weeks old, piglets are still quite small and even more highly susceptible to stress than adult pigs. These cramped trucks and jostling journeys are highly traumatic. Some piglets succumb to heart attacks. Others can die from heatstroke or get frozen to the side of the truck’s metal walls because of how packed the trucks are. These things happen with pigs being transported to slaughter as well but are more common when young piglets are involved.
You may have noticed that Anna and Elsa are missing the signature curly pig tail. Within the first few days of their lives, piglets born on factory farms are subjected to a number of cruel physical modifications. One of those modifications is tail docking, where piglets have their tails cut near the base, sometimes with scissors, but more often with hoof nippers that are also used to cut their teeth back. Male piglets are typically castrated at this time as well. All of these things are done without the use of anesthesia.
Rescue Intake at Barn Sanctuary
Those pigs who make it from sow farm to finishing facility, or finishing facility to the slaughterhouse, are often sick because of the conditions they are born and raised in. Upon their arrival to Barn Sanctuary, Anna and Elsa made the journey to Michigan State University’s Veterinary School for their first check-up. Next week they will visit Dr. Romine, a wonderful local vet who has a special knack for compassionate pig care. Currently, the pair is in quarantine until we can be certain they are healthy. With such undeveloped immune systems, it is critical to keep the girls separated from the other rescues until they have some more time to grow and strengthen their immune systems.
We have no doubt that when these girls are ready, they will fit right in with our existing pig family! Anna and Elsa spend have spent their first days exploring their new home, snuggling, playing, making messes of their food, and loving on the humans in charge of their care. Despite their young age, their personalities are shining through! Anna is brave, thoughtful and loving. Elsa is a feisty leader who loves making us laugh. We can’t wait for you to watch them grow with us and see who they become.
There is so much that these girls can teach the world, like empathy and the power of compassion. Though many are quick to vilify anyone who is employed by the animal agriculture industry, it is important to acknowledge that Anna and Elsa only found their way to the loving care of Barn Sanctuary because of the compassion of one such individual. We must work together to care for those most vulnerable among us.
Help us care for Elsa & Anna!
Donate toward Elsa & Anna’s intake sanctuary care below. Every bit counts.