Time to Move Pigs: Flexibility in Truth?

December 4th, 2016



…sometimes we get carried away. We work to amplify our beliefs by willfully confusing ourselves about whether the truth is flexible. It makes belief a lot more compelling (but a lot less useful) if we start to confuse it with truth.                                                                                          –  Seth Godin  (Seth’s Blog, Dec.1, 2016)


I have abandoned many beliefs I thought were facts over the 20 years since I started working with Low Stress Pig Handling. I keep running into “I never noticed that before” moments that force me to reassess my beliefs in the light of new evidence.

I believe that handlers deserve honesty.


Manitoba Pork’s “Smart Pig Handling” videos


Several people have assumed that I wrote the script for the “Smart Pig Handling” videos. I did not write it but I did have some influence.

The videos were produced by a working group of 5 high profile people and received funding from industry players across Canada. They started with a variety of sources including some DNL Farms Low Stress Pig Handling materials and other sources such as TQA which at the time focused on the flight zone/point of balance approach.

I was one of several people asked to review the project. I declined at first then decided to get involved and do what I could to help make the videos as beneficial as possible for the handlers who would use them.

My influence as a reviewer did not extend to any final say in the videos’ contents. Some parts of the videos were excellent. The working group deserves particular credit for moving away from flight zone/point of balance descriptions for moving pigs.

I didn’t agree with all parts of the videos. One matter deserves discussion.


The Trouble with the Clock

I objected to the clock when I reviewed the scenes in Video 1.


Video 1:



I was concerned that the clock would bring a time trial mentality to moving pigs, encourage handlers to rush, and run counter to the dynamics required for good pig movement.


Several months after the videos were released, I was asked to do a presentation based on the “Smart Pig Handling” videos. Something didn’t seem right with the time references in Video 1 but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I put the two groups together on a timeline with the group of 8 hogs running in the top right corner of the group of 13 video.

Video 2:




The clock on the group of 13 hogs moves twice as fast as the clock on the group of 8 hogs! The audio on the group of 13 hogs is based on the clock moving at double speed! The audio on the group of 8 is based the clock running at the correct speed. 

If you use real time on both groups, the average load time/hog was slightly shorter for the group of 13. Not a helpful outcome if you want to promote smaller groups.

Appropriate group size is a valid consideration and could have been made without the clock. The issue here isn’t group size.  The issue is honesty.



Why was the claim about group size so crucial that it overruled objections from within the working group and justified tampering with the clock? Justified asking people to compromise their ethics and objectivity?

Has the group size section of the “Smart Pig Handling” videos been used as a reference elsewhere?


Everything we put out in the public domain is open to scrutiny. Our sincerely held beliefs may be right or wrong. Do we really want to let our truth be flexible?

I continue to believe that handlers deserve honesty.


That’s it for this time

Take care

Nancy Lidster