Proof: A selfie of me with a selfie of me in work uniform, my work boots with raw meat, and a redacted paycheck with the company logo

Pictures from work

I work in a small slaughterhouse in the Midwest. We do a little over 300 hogs each day, of varying sizes and types. AMA!

EDIT: And with that, I have to go. I can keep answering questions tomorrow after another hard day of cart pushing, but that will have to be it for tonight

Final Edit: That will be all from me. I've really appreciated this discussion. It has been quite illuminating to hear everyone's' thoughts and answer questions. Thank you for having me!

Comments: 1712 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

BronzeCaterpillar363 karma

Do you ever eat pork, or have you been put off entirely?

Maud_Louth417 karma

I've never been a huge pork fan, but I'll eat it on sandwiches. So no, I haven't been

soup-monger305 karma

What is your job at the slaughterhouse?

Maud_Louth800 karma

If you look at one of the pictures, you'll see these stainless steel carts. My job is to push them into the next room, weigh them, then push them into the grinding room, write the weight down, grab an empty one, and wheel it back. I walk in a circle for 8 hours a day

Blakwulf272 karma

Worry about getting replaced by a machine at all?

Maud_Louth1010 karma

A lot of these jobs require adaptation, such as knowing how to respond to sanitation problems, when and how to clean each tool, and checking for loose bones. Machines are a long way off from knowing how to adapt to every scenario, so not in the near future.

tzar1995129 karma

I love the clear response. Wise answer.

hokeyphenokey3 karma

They pay him for his wisdom.

Maud_Louth5 karma

Man, I wish

soup-monger96 karma

I’m not being gratuitous, but how does your job make you feel? Do you feel ok about working where you do?

Maud_Louth311 karma

I don't enjoy it. It's not a fun job, but I don't feel guilty or morally wrong, if that's what you mean

aprilla2crash10 karma

You should wear a step counter. See how far you walk a day

Maud_Louth45 karma

I walk about 6.8 miles, give or take

MacDugin6 karma

Have you ever questioned what was on the cart before it went into the grinder?

Maud_Louth19 karma

It's the job of the person standing behind the carts to filter out bones and abscesses. Sometimes he'll miss something and I'll help him out, but 99% of the time it's perfect meat

Gordonb0mbay-28 karma

I wouldn’t worry. A machine is coming for that job when it gets cheap enough. You may be the last hog cart pusher circle walker of all time

Maud_Louth37 karma

There is some good news. I do a number of odd jobs around the plant, in addition to cart pushing. I communicate in between departments, fetch needed items, and deal with minor problems. It will take some time for a machine to be able to do any of those things.

Cart pushing also requires a certain amount of adaptability, such as avoiding obstacles and waiting for the way to clear, so I'm not concerned about losing my job to a robot

Kristophorous7 karma

Not to worry you because it will be a while for you, but the automatic forklifts in the engine assembly plant at my old company would pick up pallets of parts, drive them all through the plant, while avoiding the other lifts.

It will be here in the next 5-10 years. But you will be promoted to cart fixer upper before then.

Maud_Louth11 karma

Some of them need fixing. Stuck wheels, slanted, noisy, but no one does it so I must suffer

BraixenFan989304 karma

What changes have you noticed in new workmates when they joined? (eg. Diet change, mental wellness hit) and Have any of them downright quit the job on the spot after just a few days?

Maud_Louth893 karma

Most people who start don't even last a day. I think the hard work, sights, and smells make most leave real quick. I was determined to stick it out though.

My fellow workers are often addicts, ex-convicts, and immigrants. People with few options, so I think they view this as a job and don't concern themselves with the big-picture morality of animal rights

TechnicalVacation59980 karma

Interesting company. You are probably stuck there due to limited options as well. If you get an option to do another type of work for $500/ week for similar hours, will you switch?

Maud_Louth152 karma

Yes, depending on the work. If I didn't want to do that line of work, then I would refuse. I've gotten comfortable here, so changing my job would have to be worth my while

iownthesky2244 karma

I don’t think that just because someone doesn’t have any other choice means they can relegate working in a slaughterhouse as ‘just a job.’ I would imagine being forced to work a job you don’t want bc you have zero other options, rather than working a job because you don’t mind it, would make it even LESS of ‘just a job’ and more of a serious detriment to your well being.

I’d also like to bring to anyone’s attention that the system is very much designed to funnel in undocumented immigrants and convicts. These folk can’t report to authorities that their job is unsafe, or not paying legally, or downright abusive— because that’s mean either potentially turning themselves in to customs, or getting sent to their PO. Pretty insidious. And pretty fucking horrid that we treat human beings the same way we treat livestock.

Maud_Louth21 karma

I have never experienced illegal pay, abuse, or especially unsafe working conditions. I'll admit it's more dangerous than an office job, but that's how it is with most blue collar jobs

kermitdafrog2112 karma


I was wondering about that. I'm in food safety, and one of the women I work with did a stint at another lab in the company that's in a chicken slaughtering plant. She complained when she got back about how bad everything smelled, and how she couldn't get it out of her clothes. And she wasn't even in the slaughtering area

Maud_Louth15 karma

My girlfriend complains about that as well, even after I started to use those scent beads in the laundry

Neat_Economics8780227 karma

Do you have vegetarian friends or family?

Maud_Louth323 karma

One of my sisters is vegan. We haven't talked about it at all though, so I have no idea what her thoughts are on it

tyveill90 karma

I'm an ethical vegan and I enjoy talking to slaughterhouse workers to get their perspective. Pretty much all of them, like you mentioned above, have very limited options on where to work and are there for the job. Consumers pay for it, the industry meets the demand. I'd just rather it wasn't such a huge industry and maybe that would open up other options for you and your coworkers. No hate whatsoever towards you or your coworkers.

Maud_Louth90 karma

I wanted to go into sport photography, but after 2,000 applications, I gave up and went to the first job I could get. Thank you for your understanding

Light_Dark_Choose199 karma

  1. How much do you get paid an hour at your meat harvesting job?
  2. What pig part do you dislike eating? Why?

Maud_Louth366 karma

$15/hr, plus $40 bonus for every week with perfect attendance.

The non-meat parts are absolutely disgusting. I've seen (and smelled) every pig organ and none are appetizing

SmartOneZ35 karma

How do you survive with this pay?

Maud_Louth19 karma

The cost of living is low, and I don't have many expenses

geeltulpen190 karma

Has working there made you make any changes to your diet, or are you pretty much still eating what you’ve always eaten? (I have no agenda here, I’m genuinely curious; I think if I ever worked at a meat plant it would make me go vegetarian.)

Maud_Louth423 karma

The only real difference is I make sure I cook raw meats thoroughly more often now. I've seen a lot of things that I think are unsanitary, but the guidelines say is okay, so I prefer to be cautious

paint_thetown_red159 karma

Can you describe what things you find unsanitary but are safe for regulations?

Maud_Louth46 karma

When meat falls on the floor, we just rinse it off with cold water. I find it hard to believe that that's sanitary, but they claim it is so whatever.

paint_thetown_red16 karma

Cooking my pork extra longer now, thanks for the heads up lmao

Maud_Louth8 karma

No problem

Sandgolem17 karma

I worked at a bigger pork plant in Missouri and stuff not allowed by guidelines but pushed through anyway is the problem. Stuff like immigrants chewing and Spitting this "beatlenut" which is some kind of tobacco product the Bermamiese loved even though it's banned. People just using chew in general. Stuff falls on the floor and can be washed off by certified workers. Also they hold stuff in freezers for a very long time. At employee meat sales you could get stuff a year old. Workers just keep hitting the bypass button on the xray machine from what I heard as well.

Most of it is just workers bypassing rules and other parts are supervisors not seeing things that would technically throw out a huge load of product. Luckily there are people that do care and will tag product so it can't ship when they spot stuff USDA and QSFA workers do stop alot of bad product from hitting the market. But I' had a roommate who was qsfa and he was former military and took his job deadly serious he tagged alot of stuff and never backed down from a yelling supervisor because they will yell and weedle to get a pass (their bonuses are based on product moved). They bounced his ass out of there because he wouldn't bend on the rules.

Maud_Louth21 karma

Worker apathy is huge. I see people go to the bathroom and not was their hands, not wear gloves, wipe their noses on their gloves, spitting in the drains, drinking from the meat sinks, not wearing masks, and so on.

foxhill_matt165 karma

What do they do with all the blood?

Maud_Louth295 karma

When we rinse off the floors and walls, it gets rinsed down the drain. So presumably it goes into the sewer, but I don't know where the drain goes. They might have a special setup

borgiedude78 karma

I'm pretty sure this is how several monsters are spawned in the Witcher lore.

Maud_Louth15 karma

Wind's howling

HellaTrees86148 karma

How many hours a week do you work? It is labor intensive?

Maud_Louth291 karma

I work a little over 30 hours a week, usually because we work pretty quick and we don't do that many hogs.

It's VERY labor intensive. I'm constantly moving, pushing, and shoving meat all over the plant

HB2435 karma

How many miles do you walk each day?

Maud_Louth66 karma

So I counted about 100 steps per cart once.

It's 5 halves to a cart. 300 hogs is 600 halves

600/5=120 carts

One step is about a yard, so 12,000 yards.

6.8 miles, give or take

MatthewEOD18 karma

Does that equate to being in great physical shape?

Maud_Louth65 karma

My cardiac fitness has improved. Before I came here I was very sedentary, averaging 100BPM, but now I'm at 70BPM. I also have noticed my arm muscles getting a little larger and I don't get tired as easily

rapzeh7 karma

Farm fit, as they say?

Maud_Louth3 karma

I guess so

inkandcleats114 karma

Has no one asked the grossest thing you've seen/ experienced yet? Maybe I missed it.

Maud_Louth314 karma

Seen is without a doubt gut soup. We have an augur, which pushes the inedible parts onto trucks to be processed, but if the normal guy has left, then eventually it fills up and the guts form a layer on top, meaning the entire thing looks like guts stuffed to the brim of a soup bowl.

The worst thing that I did (or was done to) was probably being the victim of an exploding abscess. They are this pale green goop and they tend to pop, which means they can explode on you. They smell terrible and get all over you, and since they are giant sacks of germs you have to change your uniform and wash. It sucks, but it's something that happens

Jrygonzo27896 karma

Do you watch the pig die or hear it?

Maud_Louth13 karma

Both. Watching it is quiet, because they are unconscious. I have no idea what makes them squeal though

sugiina89 karma

Are the pigs raised by the same company that slaughters them? If so, what do they eat? If not, what measures are taken to ensure the health of the pigs before processing?

Maud_Louth151 karma

No, we contract out with farmers. We keep pigs for a few days at most.

As far as health goes, I'm not really in the know about that, but I do know I had to sign a humane handling document, and part of that said to keep the barn stocked with food and water, as well as limits on how many hogs per unit of area there can be.

MuddyBoots287130 karma

Not OP, but a farmer who raises hogs and has worked in a butcher shop.

Generally, commercial hogs are fed a grain ration comprised of soy, corn, wheat, and minerals. They may be supplemented with other feeds, such as peanuts, cottonseed, spent grains, brewers mash, reject produce, and other items. Hogs are natures garbage disposal! Some types of pork eat a speciality diet, but that is more commonly found at farmers markets, health food stores, or high end grocers.

Pork that will be retailed to the public (via grocery store, direct from the farm, restaurant, school, etc) is processed under USDA inspection. This means a USDA trained/employed inspector is on site, and has to sign off that the carcass is safe for consumption. They are not paid by the plant, so have no incentive to allow unsafe meat to be processed further for consumption. Carcasses that do not meet these health standards, are rejected and disposed of.

There are also regulations about the condition of the animal prior to being processed. They must be able to walk under their own power, no obvious wounds/infections, etc.

Maud_Louth93 karma

Exactly right about the inspections. I've seen that happen and the rejected ones are very gross. I know we have multiple inspectors, and they appear to have a rotation

BronzeCaterpillar70 karma

Has anyone lost a body part while there?

Maud_Louth114 karma

I heard some guy lost a finger a few years ago, but that's just a rumor. I've never seen anything like that while I was there

Sabahe66 karma

I used to be a truck driver, an was picking up a load from a slaughter house. I saw them unloading the pigs. The fear in their eyes, the ones that died from stress in transit. It changed my view on pork for ever.

How does your job effect your mental health?

Maud_Louth46 karma

I think you were projecting. You know what was going to happen to those pigs, so you put yourself in their place, which is why you interpreted what you saw as fear. If this was a pig orgy plant, you'd probably think they were hella excited to go.

I don't think it affects my mental health

skullfucyou49 karma

What part should consumers be extra through when cooking iyo?

Maud_Louth137 karma

Honestly, all of them. Get a meat thermometer and make sure it's cooked if you buy it raw.

turok243 karma

Do you think the pigs know what's happening when they are herded onto the slaughterhouse floor and start to hear the screams and smell the death?

Maud_Louth23 karma

It's hard to say. Many of them like to wander, and some tend to be rowdy. My boss once told me the smaller ones are very uncooperative and make unnecessary trouble. He claims he saw a small pig pick a fight over water, even though there were like five other water stations he could use. That's hearsay though, so read with a grain of salt. All things considered, I doubt they comprehend what's going on, but simply don't want to be there, like a kid in a grocery store

Ghana_Mafia35 karma

Is it true that a screaming pig about to get slaughtered sounds terrifying?....I've heard ppl say the scream is very "human-like" this true?

Maud_Louth11 karma

No, it sounds exactly like a normal pig squeal, at least to me

richardj19520 karma

How do you live on $280 a week?

Maud_Louth9 karma

This was an unusually light week because of the winter storm. I usually bring home $450

ikeusa17 karma

If a middle-aged guy named Tom with a hat and glasses came in and someone said to show him around would you know right away that he's actually your boss? (Seriously though, have you met the owners of the slaughterhouse? If so, how is your relationship with them. Can you move up in the company?)

Maud_Louth18 karma

Yes I have. I'm on a first name basis with them, and so is everyone else. They prefer to hire people with management experience though, so you can't really start at the bottom and work your way up

PimpOfJoytime17 karma

Ever read “the Jungle”,by Upton Sinclair?

Maud_Louth8 karma

I've never read it, but I love history so I'm familiar with the content of it and it's affect on the meat industry

MrBrianWeldon14 karma

What goes into pork mince?

Maud_Louth16 karma

I'm not familiar with pork mince, so I don't know

geeltulpen36 karma

I believe pork mince is British for ground pork.

Maud_Louth42 karma

Then it's everything we aren't saving that day. We might save hams or shoulders one day, and on other days we aren't. Anything that isn't saved gets ground up.

geeltulpen9 karma

Only meat tho, right? I think this is the “what’s in a hotdog” question, aka, do you guys throw in the eyeballs etc?

Maud_Louth72 karma

Anything that is not meat (eyeballs, intestines, etc.) is either disposed of or filtered out. There's no non-meat in your meat

Excellent-Basket915816 karma

You should suggest to the higher ups that maybe they should consider packaging and selling the small intestines. Smithfield and a few other companies do, but there is a shortage right now and can't be found anywhere. They would sell well on the east coast and in the south. I also know there are some parts of the west where there is high demand but no one can find them. They're called Chitterlings. They could corner the market right now due to the shortages. supposedly it's a labor issue for the major packagers.

Maud_Louth18 karma

I've only seen what appears to be intestines getting thrown away. It's possible they pack them somewhere else and I'm mistaken. But that's a pretty good idea, actually.

Lil_Shoegazer13 karma

How does sausage get made?

Maud_Louth15 karma

The bone-free cuts of meat are ground, salted, chilled, and dumped into large cardboard containers of meat. Those then get shipped out to the processing plants where they become sausage. I can't say what happens after that

KhunDavid9 karma

In my experience with livestock, cattle, ducks and chickens don’t seem to realize their oncoming deaths. Pigs do. Is that your experience?

Maud_Louth11 karma

I have seen some of them try to leave the stunning room, going back the way they came, but that door is closed after they are all herded in. They don't yell or fight, but they seem very interested in leaving, kind of like a dog who wants you to open the door. They just wait by it. Eventually though, they'll be herded to the stunner

goldy66608 karma

Would you be allowed to bring any home to eat?

Maud_Louth14 karma

We get an employee discount on raw meat, but you have to order it in large quantities

Cuspidx7 karma

The smell?

Maud_Louth9 karma

It's revolting, but you can get used to it. Imagine rotting meat and feces rolled together

Deutsch__Dingler5 karma

About twenty years ago I worked in a place that processed 8000 hogs daily. The worst job title in the joint was "electric butt-gun operator", curious if such a position exists in a smaller operation? It involved sticking the end of a shotgun shaped device into the pigs rectum, and when you pull the trigger a rod shoots out and hooks open up on the end, and it then retracts and literally rips their guts outta their arse. I was content enough deboning shoulders...would be a rad title on a resume though...

Maud_Louth5 karma

Never heard of anything like that. We gut them after they die just by cutting open their bellies and letting the guts fall out

CarveATail5 karma

What are things people get wrong about slaughter houses?

Maud_Louth14 karma

There's no abuse. I've never seen a pig get beaten, kicked, punched, or abused. They are led calmly to the stunner, and are killed while stunned. It's actually quite tame

RickQiAurtist4 karma

What’s your favorite kind of burger?

Maud_Louth16 karma

Whopper with cheese if you mean generic, but I love experimenting around at Five Guys more. I'm trying to save, so I don't get it as often as I'd like

TimmehD963 karma

How terrible is the smell? I used to live in Sioux Falls and they have a Slaughterhouse in town and it stinks up the entire city.

Maud_Louth7 karma

There's a neighboring apartment building, and I heard they complain about the smell constantly. It smells like rotting meat, feces, and death all rolled into one, but it's something you get used to

NeverEnufWTF3 karma

If you were working there in 2019 when the previous administration removed some of the USDA oversight from pork plants, are you seeing more, fewer, or about the same number of quality violations?

Maud_Louth3 karma

I started in September of 2020, so I can't say

femmishrobot3 karma

Can you tell us more about getting the bones out? Is that all by hand? Do workers use extra fancy tongs, or hydraulic tools?

Maud_Louth9 karma

Apart from safety equipment, each worker has a meat hook, a set of knives, and a sharpener. After the hog is cut into pieces by a giant saw, the workers grab meat off the conveyor belt and cut out the bones with their knives

cornflower05303 karma

Hi there! How long did it take you to adapt to this work environment? Has anything in your life outside of work changed after you’ve started working at the slaughterhouse?

Maud_Louth3 karma

Not very long. My first day I thought I would puke, but by my second week I thought it was completely normal.

After I started working there, I bought a car, have my own apartment, play the stock market, and spend a lot more on hobbies. So my life has improved quite a bit

Schlumpf-Venom3 karma

Is it still alive? 😥

Maud_Louth5 karma

No. They are stunned ASAP, and die right after. Everything happens after that

cheese_flavored3 karma

How do you rid yourself of the smell after a days work? Do you have a significant other that you live with?

Maud_Louth7 karma

I do laundry every week, and I use laundry scent beads. She claims she can still smell it though. We don't live together, so she doesn't have to be around it a lot

HammeredDog2 karma

How do you like your pork chops? Well done, medium, medium rare, or rare?

Maud_Louth17 karma

I don't think I've ever had a pork chop

drethnudrib2 karma

If your employer finds out you're doing this, is there a possibility we could be eating you in the near future?

Maud_Louth2 karma

Doubtful. We work at half capacity and I'm the only one willing to push the carts. They might get rid of me, but it's unlikely

Save-The-Defaults2 karma

I might sound like a vegan for asking this, but do the animals suffer or is their end quick?

Maud_Louth1 karma

They are stunned when they die. They don't feel a thing, and they bleed to death in about 30 seconds

Your-Evil-Twin-1 karma

What’s the best way to cook with bacon?

Maud_Louth17 karma

I assume frying it in a pan like everyone. We don't cook anything at the plant

[deleted]0 karma


Maud_Louth25 karma

The only work related dreams I've ever had was a person falling into a large vat of meat (which don't exist), and one time a pig talking to me in my mind. I asked if it cared about being slaughtered and it said 'no, not really'

potatodestroyer422 karma

You should read "pig" by Roald dahl

Maud_Louth5 karma

I'll keep an eye out for it

[deleted]-3 karma


Maud_Louth12 karma

No, that dream came well after I worked there.

To morally justify my actions, I view it in natural terms. We are humans, very intelligent, social creatures. We like meat, and so we use our considerable intelligence to make what we like, the end result being slaughterhouses. Any other animal would do the same, we just have the privilege to do it

[deleted]1 karma


Maud_Louth10 karma

Humans should not hunt other humans. Panthera leos should not hunt other Panthera leos. Just as animals should not eat other animals of the same species, humans should not eat other humans. I am a human, and I treat members of my species as equals, while I view others as outsiders. I enjoy the company of other species, but I don't give them the same respect as humans. I think all animals should be fair game for humans, except other humans, just as we are fair game to any meat eating animal

Your-Evil-Twin--9 karma

What does it feel like when you kill a pig?

Maud_Louth13 karma

I've never killed one. Only a few have. I work in the harvest room, where we remove bones from meat

Monster-Zero7 karma

What's the job path on that? Do you gotta know a guy or can you just start killing pigs? I assume there are humane laws around that job, but just curious to know how you even start here

Maud_Louth15 karma

After COVID hit, I didn't have anywhere to go. My girlfriend offered her apartment to me, if I worked somewhere. I literally walked in the front door, asked about the sign that said HELP WANTED, and they gave me a bunch of paperwork to fill out. This was the first place of a few I went to that gave me an offer.

OlFlirtyBastard3 karma

When you come home from work do you leave your clothes outside or otherwise away from the house since they smell so bad?

Maud_Louth9 karma

The first thing I do when I get home is shower. My clothes go right in the laundry basket which I keep in an unused closet