Pigs kept on slatted, concrete floors; pregnant sows in cages so small they can't move; piglets castrated without pain relief; tails routinely docked to prevent animals attacking each other. This is the truth behind the European pig industry - and so behind most of the pork we eat.
Heaving with heavy goods, the A67 from Eindhoven barrels through the flat, featureless fields of the south-eastern Netherlands on its way to the German border. On a frozen December morning, nothing very much moves beyond the road's edge; a horse stamps at a trough, a tractor pushes along a narrow track. Every half mile or so, behind a stand of poplars, a neat brick farmhouse - raked gravel drive, lace curtains at the windows - slides into view. Next to it is a large, windowless and vaguely ominous shed, the size, perhaps, of a small aircraft hangar.
It will hold, almost certainly, several hundred pigs. In a country famed for the unnatural feats of its intensive farming sector (the Netherlands occupies less than one-thousandth of the world's surface, but is its third largest exporter of agricultural produce), this area, known as De Peel, is more densely populated with pigs than anywhere else on the planet.
To view the full article: