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Eating pigs & chickens, but not horses &dogs

10 th March 2024

talking about animals


“Eating pigs & chickens, but not horses &dogs”

Suggested by Gerry Boland, founder of and spokesperson for Animals Behind Closed Doors, advocating for appropriate rights for animals and for a vegan lifestyle (087-6397557)


WE EAT PIGS AND CHICKENS for a multitude of reasons:

  • they are tasty and, when pumped full of additives, flavourings and salt, pretty addictive;

  • eating meat is an integral part of our culture and is embedded into family life;

  • nobody (apart from vegans) says we shouldn’t.

WE FARM PIGS AND CHICKENS because they are easy to farm in very large numbers and, because of the economy-of-scale production systems, they are a very cheap source of food.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT PIGS AND CHICKENS are there to be farmed and not to be kept as pets; dogs and cats satisfy that particular need in us.

WE REGARD PIGS AND CHICKENS AS ECONOMIC COMMODITIES, animals who have one purpose and one purpose only on this earth; to be bred, raised, slaughtered, processed and sold for human consumption.

WE DON’T EAT HORSES here in Ireland, yet horsemeat is a popular

food in many other countries and cultures. Here in Ireland, we are happy

to race them, and to trade them back and forth at horse fairs, and to semi-

abandon them in fields right across the country. But most Irish people

would probably be horrified if they thought their burger came from a


WE DON’T EAT DOGS because we love them and they love us back.

We take them for walks. They sleep at the end of our beds. They are our

non-judgemental, ever-loyal companions, offering unconditional love

which, let’s face it, is pretty irresistible. Dogs are embedded in our lives

and treated as part of the family. We don’t farm them because it would be

a little like farming our friends, and we don’t farm our friends. The very

thought of chopping up a dog and frying its body parts in a pan is

abhorrent. Unless you live in Korea.


We can continue to farm pigs, provided the animals are raised in smaller

groups, on solid floors with straw or other material for bedding and

rooting, with permanent access to an extensive outdoor environment, with

straw-filled huts for shelter, and sow stalls and farrowing crates a thing of

the dark and shameful past. Sows must be able to enjoy a better quality of

life – building nests, rooting, wallowing in mud, foraging – all important

components of what a pig needs.

Chickens, too, must be able to enjoy a better quality of life. Raised in

much smaller groups, with permanent access to fresh air and green

spaces, with tree and shrub cover, where they can practice natural

behaviours (pecking, scratching, foraging). Because they will grow

slower and can exercise, they will not suffer as much from brittle bone

syndrome, and they will be healthier animals, living a little longer,

usually up to about 8 weeks.

The consumer will pay a premium price, now that they’re

being raised outdoors and in much smaller numbers, but that’s

how it should be: the welfare of the animal is a priority and

that comes at a cost to the consumer.


The animal rights position is simple: allow pigs and chickens to live as

their wild ancestors lived, outdoors, in small social groupings. Let them

have their dignity, and their lives. We have no right to breed them. We

have no right of ownership. And we do not have the right to end their

lives for no other reason than that it suits our selfish and greedy needs to

do so.


than a legalistic excuse and a practical device to allow us to exploit animals and not feel guilty about it. Mostly, animal welfare is, to put it bluntly, a travesty.

By any ethical yardstick, it is not fit for purpose.

THE TIRESOME MANTRA of the typical Irish farmer – ‘We love our

animals’ – rings hollow when looked at from the animals’ point of view.

PIGS ARE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT and can outsmart dogs in

cognitive ability tests. They make nests to sleep in and they dig out

wallows in the mud when they need to cool down (pigs can’t sweat).

They will eat small animals if they can catch them, but mostly they will

forage for leaves, grass, roots, fruits and flowers. They prefer to be clean,

and avoid defecating close to where they eat or sleep. Researchers have

identified twenty different grunts and oinks that pigs use for different

situations to communicate.

* SOUTH KOREA’S PARLIAMENT has passed a bill that will make

it illegal to breed, slaughter and sell dogs for human consumption. Under

the bill, a ban on trading dog meat will be enforced starting in 2027. After

that, slaughtering dogs for consumption could lead to penalties of up to

three years in prison or 30 million South Korean won in fines (about

$22,000). Breeding and selling dogs for human consumption could be

punishable by up to two years in prison or a fine of 20 million won (about


99% OF IRELAND’S PIGS are bred and reared in indoor, non-straw bedded, slatted or solid floor systems, often in units of over 1,000 pigs, with over 40% of the pig population living in units of over 10,000 animals.

I am happy to discuss this issue on air, also more than willing to debate with an industry representative.

Gerry Boland

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