BURNING PIGS

The burgeoning and catastrophic African swine virus in China is now in 14 provinces and stimulating drastic responses.  British media is full of pictures of pits where pigs are incinerated while still alive.  The farmers push the pigs into the pits in a scene reminiscent of Dante's Inferno.

 Blame?  Feeding food scraps to the pigs.  Nobody knows exactly how many pigs have been burned alive this way, but it's a bunch.

 This is where recycling gets nuanced.  I'm all for feeding food scraps to animals, but the U.S. experience with trichonosis many years ago made us realize the differences between food wastes.  Raw and unprocessed vegetables and fruit are fine. 

 But when you start throwing in pork and feeding it to pigs that's a problem.  China is the world's largest consumer of pork, both in aggregate and per capita.  So food scraps in China naturally contain a lot of pork.

 As much as I want all food scraps to be consumed and not land filled or composted, I'm not a fan of feeding them to pigs.  The right animal to feed kitchen scraps to is a chicken, especially laying hens.  They provide a biological barrier between what they eat and the eggs they lay.  You're not eating the flesh of the flesh.

 But beyond that, chickens cannibalize with impunity and never seem to have a problem with it.  If a chicken dies in the flock, the others don't have a funeral service; they just nonchalantly jump in and start eating her insides out. 

 The point here is that nature has an order.  The order is specific and knowable.  All you have to do is observe and be humble about nature's wisdom.  About design.  I know of no historical incident where chickens contracted a disease eating food scraps--of any kind, including chicken meat.  But the documented cases of problems with pigs eating food scraps are plenty.

 That doesn't mean pigs can't eat lots of things.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and even worms and fish or chicken.  They are omnivores, after all. 

 All that said, I'm not always ready to accept the orthodox reason for the problem.  It may have nothing to do with food scraps.  I do know that pigs do not eat each other like chickens do.  If a pig dies in a pen, I've never seen the other pigs eat it like chickens would eat a fallen comrade.  Pigs seem to like just killing each other in stressed situations (like factory farming) and leaving the dead ones to rot.  The killing satiates the boredom; chicken killing progresses to consumption.

 I guess that's why of all the animal, humans and pigs are the closest.  We don't eat each other; we just like the killing part.

 Do you feed kitchen scraps to chickens?