• Becci Pigeon

No animal should need to 'earn' her freedom: can you help Matilda and her family?

When Anna Aston was walking her dog in Nottinghamshire last week and stumbled across a mother pig and her piglets in the woods, she knew they weren't wild boars and contacted Brinsley Animal Rescue. The mother, who has been named Matilda, was discovered nursing her ten piglets and escaped a nearby farm whilst pregnant.

'She has a ring through her nose which meant she was unable to forage for food herself...'

Matilda is a refugee. Unlike most human refugees, however, her potential rescue has a unique caveat: as Jon Beresford, who manages Brinsley Animal Rescue has pointed out, she is the 'property' of the farmer she escaped from, and cannot be saved without permission. That means that when the company who owns the farm, Wold Farms Breeding Ltd., came back to get Matilda and her babies, there was no legal recourse to stop them. Peaceful protesters plan to be outside the farm and a petition with 4000 signatures has been launched.

In the meantime, Matilda has experienced freedom--something that the vast majority of farmed pigs will never see--and has been allowed to bond with her children, rather than knowing them only from behind the prison of a farrowing crate. And they have been able to not only to know the love of their mother but to avoid the usual mutilations done to farmed piglets--cutting off their tails and clipping their teeth--both of which are done without anaesthetic. If the farm decides to keep her, she will be returned to the cycle of artificial impregnation and loss that other 'breeding sows' experience, and the piglets will be killed and sold as food at just six months old. (Pigs can live 15 or 20 years.) Matilda will live a few years longer at most, before the brutal and unnatural conditions of industrial farming wears out her body and she is sent to the slaughterhouse as 'spent'.

'Wherever she has come from, she deserves a safe and happy life with her little family...I think she has earned her freedom now.' (source)

I agree, but with one significant correction: Matilda never needed to earn her freedom anymore than you or I do. It belongs to her by right of birth, and while it can be violated, it can never be taken away.

Learn more about pig farming at our research page.

Black and white spotted mother pig with at least 8 spotted piglets nursing from her. She is outside and lying on some dust or mud.
This is another pig family! (You can see Matilda's at the BBC links in the post.)

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