The Sharp End: Down on the pig farm

The gruesome secrets of hog-breeding are revealed to a wide-eyed Dave Waller.

This finger has been up thousands of pigs' arses. These are the words of my taxi driver, who's proudly showing off his pioneering digit. Turns out he used to work in Salisbury's abattoir, gutting pig carcasses. Now his porcine frame is squeezed into the front seat of a people-carrier, driving me to see the other end of the supply chain.

It's 8am when we arrive at the farm (which will remain nameless, over fears that publicity might attract nutters). I transfer to a Massey Ferguson driven by Duncan, the technical manager. He's a good advertisment for country living, with a sharp sense of humour and a warm grin. But talk about laid back - his overall could catch fire and it wouldn't faze him.

We bounce off on the tractor to feed the sows. There are more than 700 living outside, each with its own area marked by electrified tape, containing a private 'pigloo' and water trough. Feeding involves firing three-inch lumps of corn from a machine we're towing. I watch sows taking a hail of these bullets square in the face. And people will tell you pigs are intelligent.

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