Fair Oaks, Stud Farms and the Twisted World of Pig Insemination
The world of pig farming is more twisted and disturbing than you probably imagined. I started doing research for a simple story about deceptive marketing and ended up going down a rabbit hole in the world of the highly sexualized business of artificial insemination in pigs. What I learned was so shocking and alarming that I felt compelled to share it with you.
Fair Oaks Farm has around 2,900 sows (female pigs) that account for about 80,000 piglets per year. The process that makes this happen is highly disturbing from start to finish. Here is a brief overview:
Stud farms, pig masturbation and selling semen
Fair Oaks purchases mass amounts of semen from what is called a “stud farm” or “boar farm.” Although I am not entirely certain which stud farms they use, a former intern reported on her blog that they get it from a farm in Michigan. Regardless, the processes used on various stud farms around the Midwest are all very similar.
The farms are home to male pigs called boars that have been genetically selected over many generations to have qualities that pig farms desire: things like tall shoulders, big ribcages, lots of muscle, and apparently, enormous genitalia. We can only assume this because the pictures they post of their pigs feature the genitals quite prominently. Check out the current home page for Hi Point Genetics in Chrisman, Illinois:
Browsing through a “semen sales” catalogue, I was caught off guard by how sexualized this industry was. They name their pigs things like Steel Pipe, Comin 4 U, Teenage Dream, and Super Stroke. One ad reads “Teenage Dream is a heavy-boned, bold-ribbed, muscular boar that has style and balance.” Here is a picture of a pig called “Turn On” from a sales catalogue.
I assumed this industry was messy and disturbing, but I was not prepared for how much they flaunted pigs as sex objects in order to sell their semen.
The semen collection process is much more of an intimate encounter than I imagined as well. The boars are coaxed to mount a wooden contraption, then the workers reach their hand under and grab the boar’s penis in one hand and hold a cup in the other to catch the semen. This process can last up to 10 minutes. The collected semen is marketed to farms such as Fair Oaks in ads that I just could not believe.
(Pictured left) Discounts were applied when they produced more semen than expected.
The prices for them to manually stimulate the boar to completion for you and package their semen ranged from around $70 to $200 per dose.
It gets worse…
Sexual violation and simulating sex
Once Fair Oaks receives the semen, they start the insemination process. They place a boar in front of the sow. According to a video produced by Fair Oaks: “The sows need to have the exposure to have the pheromones from the boar’s mouth in order to stimulate them to stand and receive a mating.” The “mating” in this case is not with another pig, of course, but with a tube that a human inserts into the pig’s cervix. A bag of semen is attached to the tube and the worker then, disturbingly, performs a number of maneuvers on the pig that I can only describe as simulating sex. In the words of the worker on the video:
“I am simulating what would actually happen in a natural mating. I’m trying to do everything that a boar would do…to put pressure on the gilt’s back…to rub her flanks…and to also rub her underline to sort of simulate what a boar would do in a natural service. We have an AI (artificial insemination) rod inserted which goes into her cervix and on top of this is the semen bag and she will actually take this in herself…”
“All we do is we want a board in front of her and then we also want to simulate her and make her feel that there is a boar doing this service instead of us. And we just do this until all the semen is out of the bag then we give her a couple more minutes of stimulation on top of that.”
All of this, of course, is not consensual. When non-consensual sex happens with humans we describe it as sexual violation. But since pigs are viewed as “things” or commodities, any suffering, discomfort or violation that occurs to them is just brushed aside as part of the agricultural process.
You can watch the video referenced above here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5V2YjK_T-I
The “Miracle of Life”
Fair Oaks describes the birthing of new piglets as “the miracle of life.” What is miraculous about the manual semen collection process and advertising semen sales? What is miraculous about purchasing this semen and artificially inseminating the pigs over and over again? What is miraculous about the fact that most of the piglets only live to about 6 months of age when they are slaughtered? What is miraculous about slaughtering the mothers once they can no longer have babies?
In truth, Fair Oaks simply uses the “miracle of life” as one of many deceptive marketing campaigns to hide the real, and very ugly, truths of their business. If they advertised what really went on, no one would want to buy what they are selling.
Research on insemination was found at these sites:
Purple Power Boar Stud, LLC – Chalmers, IN https://www.purplepowerboarstud.com/index.html
Hi Point Genetics – Chrisman, IL http://www.hipointgenetics.com/index.html
Albright Swine Farms – Coldwater Michigan – http://brightswine.com/HerdBoars.php
Harrell Family Farm – Marian, IN – http://harrellfamilyfarm.com/
In addition to the Fair Oaks promotional video (cited above), some information on Fair Oaks was collected here: Fair Oaks intern page: https://fairoaksintern.wordpress.com/2015/08/