Pigs are intelligent. Like humans, pigs are omnivorous, which goes along with being curious and having the ability improvise in new environments (pigs live on every continent except Antarctica). Pigs seek variety, and like to investigate and manipulate new things that they find.[1] Pigs are great at learning. In experiments, they have learned to control a joystick to move a cursor and select items on a computer screen in only a few hours—as fast as chimpanzees did![2] Pigs can exploit the knowledge of other pigs to find food, and can conceal knowledge to deceive other pigs. This shows that pigs may be able to work out what another pig may be thinking, which is an advanced cognitive ability.[1]

Pigs are highly social. They live together in family groups called sounders, with a mother pig and her litter at the core. They identify each other using their highly developed sense of smell. They keep in close contact with each other using grunts, and greet each other by touching snouts.[3]

Pigs have powerful personalities, and each one of them is a unique individual. They take pleasure in food and seeking food, scratching against trees, taking naps and mud baths, and touching and playing with other pigs.[4]

---Take Action NOW to Help Pigs---

Gestation Crates: Motherhood Behind Bars

Gestation Shed Rendering

Gestation crates are metal cages that 60-70 percent of mother pigs in the U.S. are confined in throughout their pregnancies. In these crates, the pigs cannot even turn around, and can only move a matter of inches on each side of their bodies.

  • Square footage of a gestation crate: 14 (2x7 feet)[5]
  • Number of pigs in crates: 3.5 to 4 million[6][7]
  • Length of pregnancy: 4 months[5]
  • Frequency of forcible impregnation: every 5-6 months[8]
virtual gestation crate

The Virtual Gestation Crate

The pork industry houses pigs as if they were parked cars instead of conscious, living beings. There is a life looking out from between every set of bars. In the virtual gestation crate, you can experience a simulated gestation crate from the perspective of a mother pig.

The Torture of Boredom

Pigs want to experience their lives. They want to search for food, to interact with other pigs, to root, to graze, to bathe, and to stretch out and take naps in the shade. It isn't just physically painful for pigs to be trapped in a cramped prison. Pigs in crates suffer the deprivation of their lives. The chart below shows how free and crated pigs spend their waking hours.

Free Pig[9]
Crated Pig[5]

Progress: State Law

The states highlighted on the map below have passed laws or committed to agreements to phase out gestation crates. In green states, the bans have already gone into effect, and blue states are at some point in the phase-in period. Click on the states for more information on the individual laws.


Progress: Corporate Policies

The table below lists companies who have made commitments to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chain.[10] Walmart has not made such a commitment. Take action now to urge them to make progress on this important animal welfare issue.

Companies eliminating gestation crates Has not made a commitment to eliminate gestation crates


Take Action!

Tell Walmart to Phase Out Cruel Gestation Crates. The actions below will only take you a few minutes, and will make a big difference for pigs!

walmart cruelty




  1. Watson, Lyall (2004). The Whole Hog. Washington: Smithsonian Books.
  2. Helft, Miguel. (1997, June 6). Pig Video Arcades Critique Life in the Pen. Wired. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2012 from http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1997/06/4302.
  3. HSUS. (2009, November 2) More About Pigs. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2012 from http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/pigs/pigs_more.html.
  4. Balcombe, Jonathan. (2006) Pleasurable Kingdom. New York: Macmillan.
  5. HSUS. (2012, July) An HSUS Report: Welfare Issues with Gestation Crates for Pregnant Sows. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2012 from http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/HSUS-Report-on-Gestation-Crates-for-Pregnant-Sows.pdf.
  6. Barnett, J.L., Hemsworth, P.H., Cronin, G.M., Jongman, E.C. and Hutson, G.D. (2001). A review of the welfare issues for sows and piglets in relation to housing. Aust. J. Agric. Res., 52: 1-28.
  7. USDA. (2012, September 28) Quarterly Hogs and Pigs. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2012 from http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/nass/HogsPigs//2010s/2012/HogsPigs-09-28-2012.pdf.
  8. Marcus, Erik. (2005). Meat Market. New York: Brio Press.
  9. Stolba A and Wood-Gush DGM. 1989. The behaviour of pigs in a semi-natural environment. Animal Production 48:419-25.
  10. HSUS. (2012, September 26) Timeline of Major Farm Animal Protection Advancements. Retrieved Oct 2, 2012 from http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/timelines/timeline_farm_animal_protection.html.