Imagine I’m standing with you outside a shed full of animals.

I intend to go inside, select an animal, and mutilate him.

I have implements specifically designed for the task.

I will not apply anaesthetic or other forms of pain relief.

I will:

  • castrate him;
  • cut off his tail;
  • remove large pieces from his ears;
  • clip his teeth close to the gum line.

As we stand there, you might argue with me, or plead with me not to proceed.

I ignore you, and as I walk toward the building, you might scream at me, saying I’m insane.

I enter the building and select one of the hundreds of piglets inside.

I have almost complete power over him.

Physically, he is only a few days old, and weighs around 2 kg.

He will struggle and squeal as I cut away pieces of his body, but there is nothing he can do.

His mother is confined to a cage, and cannot help him.

His father is permanently locked away, his semen extracted through sexual stimulation by a human, and used to impregnate sow after sow, who are also stimulated by a human.

Once I’ve completed my tasks, the piglet will remain in the shed, day and night, for the rest of his short life.

His mother and father will also stay there, in a world of steel, concrete and filth, until they can no longer produce piglets.

Their first view of sunshine will be the day they are sent to the slaughterhouse.

Legally, I am fully entitled to do what I’m doing.

Because of exemptions in favour of livestock industries, the so-called prevention of cruelty to animals legislation says it’s perfectly acceptable.

By its food choices, society condones my actions.

But do individual members of society know that this is part of the deal?

We condemn cruel acts against companion animals.

We condemn domestic violence.

But we ignore acts of atrocity routinely committed against other vulnerable beings, like this piglet, his parents and siblings.

Where is the justice?

There is virtually none when it comes to “production” animals.

Activists who try to convey reality rather than industry PR, are condemned by industry participants and politicians.

A new bill is being considered by Australia’s federal parliament which, if passed, would introduce onerous penalties, and require whistleblowers to immediately hand over evidence to authorities, rather than showing the community directly. In the USA, animal activists are subject to anti-terrorism legislation.

With few exceptions, the relevant authorities have allowed the acts of atrocity to continue, so why should we expect things to change if activists are forced to hand over information?

Today’s undercover animal activists can be compared to those who fought injustices in the past.

Was Martin Luther King, Jr. wrong?

Was Mohandas Gandhi wrong?

Was Rosa Parks, the African American who dared to sit at the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, wrong?

John Durkan is chief executive officer of Australian supermarket monolith, Coles. During his period as merchandise director, he said:

“[Our customers] want to know . . . that there is no cruelty to animals, that they’re treated well.”

So why does Coles condone most of the types of cruelty that I’ve mentioned (including farrowing crates as a type of cage), while gaining market leverage by proclaiming that its home brand fresh pork, and local and imported ham and bacon products, are “sow stall free”? (The stalls can still be used for up to 24 hours per pregnancy, and can therefore remain on the premises.)

Coles is not alone, as other supermarkets and retailers also allow such cruelty.

You have the power to act.

You can prevent these horrendous acts of cruelty committed against vulnerable beings.

You can help make history.

Avoid buying products made from the bodies and excretions of animals. The life of any “unit of production” can hardly be a life worth living.

Do what Coles CEO, John Durkan, should expect you to do, and ensure “there is no cruelty to animals, that they are treated well”.

His business, and other retailers, can adapt by supplying products that are genuinely cruelty-free in response to consumer demand.



Paul Mahony


  • The opening scenario assumes I’m employed by a piggery.
  • Castration of piglets, while permitted, does not occur as routinely in Australia as in some other countries.
  • A voluntary, so-called “phase out” of sow stalls by industry body Australian Pork Ltd, has severe limitations, including the fact that their use would only be reduced, rather than being phased out altogether. In any event, the alternative of indoor group housing is also horrendously cruel. Farrowing crates, an even more restrictive type of cage for mothers, in which they are confined day and night for up to six weeks, will continue.
  • The big picture: We have almost complete power over other animals. However, we abuse that power by forcing billions to be “production” animals who are almost completely denied justice.
  • This article first appeared on the website of Melbourne Pig Save on 1st August, 2015.


“Do you want to make history” (The Vegan Society, 2012):

“Lucent” (Trailer, 2014):


“Lucent” (Full film, 2014):


Source material:

Mahony, P. “When does ‘cruel’ not mean cruel?”, Terrastendo, 31st August, 2014, https://terrastendo.net/2014/08/31/when-does-cruel-not-mean-cruel/

Mahony, P., “Ag-gag: when a gag is not a joke”, Terrastendo, 15th July, 2014, https://terrastendo.net/2014/07/15/ag-gag-when-a-gag-is-not-a-joke/

Potter, W., “The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the Criminalization of Dissent”, Green is the New Red, 18th September, 2014, http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/animal-enterprise-terrorism-act-book/8033/

Voiceless, “Animal Law in the Spotlight: Sow Confinement Bill 2015”, 29th June, 2015, https://www.voiceless.org.au/content/animal-law-spotlight-sow-confinement-bill-2015

Timoshanko, A. and Kyriakakis, J., “It will take a ban on caging pigs to clean up the pork industry”, The Conversation, 28th July, 2015, https://theconversation.com/it-will-take-a-ban-on-caging-pigs-to-clean-up-the-pork-industry-44701

The Vegan Society, “Do you want to make history?” (video), 10th May, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6ehL18rqlM

“Lucent” (Documentary, 2014), written, produced and directed by Chris Delforce, http://www.aussiepigs.com/lucent

Main image:

Courtesy Aussie Farms, http://www.aussiepigs.com/piggeries/korunye-park/photos