Pigs Just Wanna Have Fun

Pigs are physiologically similar to humans in many respects and they have advanced cognitive abilities, which cause them to be perceived as “intelligent.”  They also have unique personalities.

Pigs like to enjoy themselves.  They eat with gusto and they delight in wallowing in the mud.

But I suppose some would argue that I’m guilty of anthropomorphizing their behavior.  They’re just animals, some might respond, without emotions (those being uniquely human). They coat themselves in mud simply to keep their bodies cool and they’ve evolved to eat the way they do because it improves their chances of surviving and reproducing.  They don’t just “have fun.”  Like all nonhuman animals they are, as Rene Descartes famously put it, merely “machines” and “automata.”  As Nicholas Malebranch wrote, “They eat without pleasure, cry without pain, grow without knowing it; they desire nothing, fear nothing, know nothing.”

Proponents of this Cartesian view of animals (and there are many of them, whether they realize it or not), therefore see farm animals as mere machines, which should be converted into human food as cheaply, efficiently and quickly as possible.  The factory farm model, which now supplies the vast majority of the meat and eggs our society consumes, is predicated upon these kinds of beliefs.

A couple of days I ago I threw a bale of hay into the stall where our pigs sleep, intending to go in later and spread it around as bedding for them.  But before I could go in to do that, a pig party broke out.





These photos don’t do it justice.  I regret not having made a video.

The pigs treated the bale like a toy, rolling it around, biting and shaking it and flopping down on it.  They were playing.  I can’t think of any better way to describe it.  And I can’t imagine that frolicking this way is actually the behavior of an emotionless machine.

The bottom line as far as I’m concerned is that pigs like to play.  I’m glad our pigs live on a place where they’re able to do that.



21 comments on “Pigs Just Wanna Have Fun

  1. I can’t decide if I prefer my new understanding of animals and their emotional lives or if it was better to live under the false belief that they are machines. Now, my heart breaks at the sight of any animal dead along the highway. I know this is better, but until the world catches up to this, it’s so hard. So many places where they are still so expendable – dogs, and dolphins, and the list goes on – and I think we all suffer for that.


    • Bill says:

      I think so too. The mechanistic view of nonhuman animals just doesn’t hold up to observation and common sense. I hope and expect it will eventually be discarded.


  2. Ru says:

    Aw that’s so cute! I think we don’t understand animals very well. If you pay attention, you will see that they have personalities, emotions and family dynamics just like we do. We just have to pay attention. It makes me so mad when people say they are just dumb animals. Whoosa! Going to go look at the happy pigs again. Lovely post.


    • Bill says:

      Yes, I agree. Unfortunately it’s too easy to avoid paying attention and that creates the environment for institutionalized animal cruelty. More people these days are choosing to pay attention, and that is encouraging.


  3. jubilare says:

    Yeah, I don’t know how anyone could discount the idea that animals play, though apparently many do… or maybe they just don’t care.


    • Bill says:

      Someone once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” I suppose there are plenty of other things we desire that could be substituted for the words “his salary” and it would be equally true.

      Not long ago I heard an interview with a scientist who studies bird songs. He had concentrated his research on trying to discover the evolutionary explanations for them. Ultimately he concluded that birds sing because they like singing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. avwalters says:

    I’ve always distrusted the view that “mere animals” don’t think, don’t have feelings, don’t have personalities. I believe (especially in the farm context) that this view prevails because it absolves them of many of the petty cruelties I see visited upon livestock. (Not to mention the CAFOs!) Anyone observing animals can, with anthropomorphizing) see distinct behavioral differences among them. If you’ve ever had a dog or cat, you know they have personalities–even senses of humor! The message in this is that we should treat all animals with kindness–even the ones we’re lucky enough to enjoy again, as dinner. Be thankful for what you have and for what they contribute to your life.


  5. Diane says:

    I love pigs, they have great characters and I am glad you took photos and not a video. Our slow connection would not have allowed me to see them. Keep well Diane


    • Bill says:

      We have the same issue here. It’s very difficult to watch videos. Besides, I’ve never been able to figure out how to post one. So my amateurish photos will have to do. 🙂


  6. Joanna says:

    My hubby was only talking about our lady alpacas and wondering why they just have to roll in the hay while he is trying to stack it into feeders. Every time he goes to fill their feeders they have to roll around in it first. Well I guess it is just party time for them too


    • Bill says:

      That’s interesting. Our goats don’t do that. Our pigs, on the other hand, love to rub up against things. Like me. They seem to enjoy rubbing their muddy bodies against me when I’m in their pasture. 🙂


  7. shoreacres says:

    Maybe the people who reject the possibility that animals have fun are people who don’t know how to have fun, or recognize fun when it’s happening right in front of their nose.

    I’m just tickled to death that I recognized from whence your title came. At least, I think I did. That’s fun!


  8. valbjerke says:

    Anybody who says livestock don’t think, or feel, should ought to spend a year raising a few animals themselves. In my opinion they can be happy, sad, fearful, content, angry, stressed – and become very attached to their handlers.


    • Bill says:

      Undeniably. As others have said, I think many people just allow themselves to believe that animals have no emotions/feel no pain because that belief lets them off the hook.


  9. They are having a LOT of fun, aren’t they? Great pics and great pigs!
    and AMEN to all of the replies – people that think of animals as machines are walking around with blinders on to justify their own poor choices. It is this same mentality that treats the earth as an endless supply of resources to use and abuse at will.


  10. I included a photo of a large brown Kodiak bear repeatedly throwing a bone into the air and catching it in a recent post, Bill. I would challenge anyone to tell that bear he wasn’t having fun. Your pigs are obviously enjoying themselves. –Curt


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