Fair Oaks Farms: Selling Slavery and Sexual Violation as “The Miracle of Life”

On August 5, 2013, Fair Oaks Farms—the largest “agritourism” destination in the country— will celebrate Opening Day of Pig Adventure, a commercial breeding facility where 2700 sows are impregnated to produce 75,000 pigs for slaughter annually. Pig Adventure joins the Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure, a 36,000 cow dairy operation that has, since 2004, doubled as an “Agricultural Disney”; on daily tours, visitors can watch calves being born, cows being milked on giant mechanized carousels, and cheese being made, among many other dairy-themed spectacles. And now, with help from major agribusiness backers (including the Pork Checkoff and Indiana Pork), visitors can also oooh and ahh at the more than 200 piglets born daily, then head over to the farm’s full restaurant for a Bacon and Swiss Grilled Cheese.

There’s something very strange about the publicity pieces and videos that Fair Oaks Farms has been releasing to promote the Pig Adventure. If you were into self-deception, you could almost be fooled into thinking they were some kind of Pig Appreciation and Protection Society: from the tour buses plastered with images of smiling, adorable pink piglets, to the exuberant animated pig who narrates Pig Adventure’s website, to the reverential description, in the video above, of Pig Adventure’s breeding and confinement operation as “The Miracle of Life Project.”

Ah, the miracle of life. Now, I’m no farmer— but as I watch this video, something begins to seem a little off in the choice of terminology. A miracle? Really? But who puts a miracle in a cage? Who turns a miracle into a slave? What else but a slave is the boar chained to a robot he’s forced to follow through endless Orwellian avenues of captive sows who, smelling the boar, are meant to become aroused, thereby facilitating the forcible insertion of semen into their vaginas by their human captors? What else but slaves are females confined to an interminable cycle of sexual violation and exploitation of their reproductive processes? What else but slaves are these unfortunate beings, and the slaughter-bound babies born to them?

If they’re not slaves, then what are they? Free?

If you’re not deeply disturbed by the footage of two women rubbing and fondling restrained female pigs in order to enlarge the pigs’ vaginal openings and force semen into them, imagine that the pigs are restrained women who have no say in what is being done to their bodies. What makes it right to sexually violate other animals if it’s wrong to sexually violate other humans?

Fair Oaks Farms prides itself on transparency, promising to connect you with the story of your food. According to secretary/treasurer Jon Hoek, the point of Pig Adventure is for people to see that “pork production is morally right, a noble profession and a service to humanity.” But what’s morally right about breeding individuals into existence to exploit and slaughter them, not because we need to eat them—science tells us that we don’t—but simply because we can? What’s noble about harming and killing animals for a fleeting pleasure? And what happens to the truth when only one part of the story gets told? Because if you didn’t know to ask, you’d never learn what happens to the piglets at Fair Oaks Farms behind the scenes. We did ask, and we’re pretty sure the tour won’t show the Fair Oaks piglets being castrated without any prior painkiller, having their tails cut off, or their teeth cut out. These horrific mutilations, all inflicted without anesthesia, are standard industry practice on virtually all commercial pig farms, including Fair Oaks; and at least two—castration and ear notching— are practiced on most small farms as well.

Fair Oaks won’t be advertising that part of the “adventure” any time soon. So in the interest of telling the whole story, here’s footage from another farm showing how piglets are “processed” soon after birth.

Not convinced this is the reality?

Here are the same mutilations performed on piglets on a small, organic farm praised as a model of sustainability and humane farming practices. (See Part 3 for ear-notching).

Notice how the farmer, Karma Glos, refers to the experience of being brutally mutilated as a mere “stress” for the pigs. You have to wonder if that’s how she’d characterize having her own genitalia ripped off, or chunks of her own ear flesh torn out. You have to wonder if she ever thinks about her own name.


For more information on the practices and routine abuses that go into raising pigs for food, please refer to the following pages:

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary: Pigs

The Humane Society of the United States: The Welfare of Breeding Sows

The Humane Society of the United States: The Welfare of Piglets In the Pig Industry

You can read the full press release for Fair Oaks Pig Adventure here.

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About Ashley Capps

Ashley Capps received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book of poems is Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields. The recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she works as a writer, editor and researcher specializing in farmed animal welfare and vegan advocacy. Ashley has written for numerous animal rights organizations, and in addition to her ongoing work for Free from Harm, she is a writer and researcher at A Well-Fed World. For more information on her poetry or advocacy writing, please visit her website. She also runs the vegan facebook page Make Compassion Consistent.


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  4. This is absolutely depraved. Are there any plans for a protest on opening day?

  5. OMG this is disgusting! I cannot watch the poor piglet being mutilated!!! With no anesthetic! Getting his balls ripped out of his body!! Cutting the teeth, do these people have vet training?!?!?!? This is disgusting, torturous, GOD awful!! This is a horror movie at its’ finest! I am so glad I don’t eat flesh! Poor piggies, GOD humans suck!

  6. The absolute naked depravity displayed here in these “Hog Farming” videos sends chills down my spine — Presenting “The Heart of Darkness” in Living Disney Color — see it here in all its violence, in all its sadism, in all its brutality and self righteous deluson:
    MY GOD! What fiendish brutes these mortals be…

  7. I went to Youtube and posted on the original video’s page… it was deleted a few minutes later.

    The “Miracle of Life” is such a sham of a name. It would be better named miracle of enslavement, torture, rape and death.

    Additionally it was extremely creepy that the ladies were flung into the roll of rapist and public relations at the same time. The makers of this video knew that it would be that much more abhorrent to view men fondling female pigs and inserting semen bags.

    The whole situation is despicable. The only real solution is to get the word out and find every person that is open to veganism and willing to change their life. Once all of these people know the truth the rest of the world will be forced to have to face reality.

    We’re a better species than this…

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  9. words cannot describe the utter disgust and shame for the human race felt when witnessing the apathy and disconnected cruelty perpetrated on these gentle, intelligent beings. the most horrendous part is that this violence and exploitation pales in comparison with the brutal, gruesome death which awaits them at the slaughterhouse. there is no other way to put it except to state that to these helpless victims, and the billions of more like them, human beings are the Devil incarnate.

  10. True! Unfortunately, there will be those who say animals and people cannot be compared and that the terms “slavery” and “sexual violation” don’t apply to the farm. Until we can get past that mindset, it is hard to make the necessary points, get attention, and demand a stop to the abuse.

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