Animal = machine, Ljutomer, 2020-2021

In 2020 and 2021 an activist initiative secretly documented the living conditions of sows and piglets in a production facility that raises 15.000 piglets annually. This is the first ever hidden investigation of an animal enterprise in Slovenia of its kind, using both handheld and hidden cameras. The investigation showed the real face of Slovenian industrial farming practices and opened a discussion about animal farming that occupied mainstream media for more than two months.

The hidden investigation, unlike the official veterinary inspection, has been performed completely unannounced and reveals frightening conditions on the piglet farm:

– lack of hygiene: sows are forced to lay in their feces and urine, decomposing corpses of animals are not removed on time, piglets are born on hard floors contaminated with fecal matter,

– sows and piglets with large and small untreated wounds: absence of veterinary care, leg deformations, rectal prolapses, hernias, pressure sores, mastitis, large open wounds,

– severe restriction of movement: during artificial insemination, late pregnancy and until the end of weaning, sows are forced to live in individual boxes of size 1.3m^2 continually for at least 2 months, during which they cannot move more than a few inches back and forth, cannot turn or care for their offspring.

– harsh and barren environment: the slatted floors are concrete and with sharp edges. There is no straw or any soft material for either comfort or enrichment,

– wide use of preventative antibiotics,

– high mortality of piglets: many are stillborn, sometimes whole batches, but even more die of disease and the lower constitution piglets are ‘euthanised’ by smashing them against the floor.

The uncovered conditions are for the most part strictly within the bounds of the law, as a later visit by the inspection service confirmed. However, these standard conditions were before completely unknown to the Slovenian public due to misleading marketing by the meat industry and a total lack of transparency on their part. Alas, until animal enterprises voluntarily become transparent about how animals under their care are treated, transparency shall be forced on them instead.