I make no secret of the fact that I am a vegetarian, and I oppose Confined Animal Farming Operations (CAFOs). Many shoppers simply choose to ignore from where their meat supply comes. Today’s farming operations are no longer your father’s or grandfather’s small, family-owned enterprise, and, with so many thousands of pigs
confined crammed into tight quarters, it may seem impossible to track the progress of the little piggies as they are getting ready for the slaughter.
But, given good old ingenuity, it was only a matter of time until a method for tracking was invented. And, here it is: it is called “ear-notching.”
Ear notching is best done on piglets a few days after farrowing, at the same time as trimming teeth and tails and giving iron. The notches must be carefully done so they can be easily read when the pigs get older.
Notches at the base of pigs’ ears need to be cut deeply, otherwise they may grow over in time. If notches are too near the curved base of the ear they could pass around the curve with age, and be overlooked. On the other hand, notches clipped near the tip of the ear should not be too deep otherwise the tip of the ear may droop. This is especially likely to occur if the notches are close together as required in some systems. Shallow notches in this upper section of the ear are easily read. Ear notching should not be done too close to the head along the top of the ear or the ear may droop.
Of course, ear notching isn’t the only infliction that must be done to piglets. Because piglets are confined in close quarters, they tend to bite each others’ tails and ears. To stop the biting and nipping, the tails are cut off and the eye teeth are clipped.
What ever happened to just raising animals without all the cruelty?