Monday, April 9, 2007

Factory Farming

Here's one I didn't know about until recently: factory farms keeping breeding female pigs in 'gestation crates', tiny metal cages basically the same size as the pig. She can't move forward or backward more than a couple of shuffling inches, can't turn around, hardly has enough room to even lay down and get back up.
Now, I always assumed that factory farms kept their animals in fairly confined spaces, but not even enough room to lay down? That's like if you kept your 70 lb golden retriever in a shopping cart basket its entire life and never let it out. That's cruel confinement. And it happens to more than just pigs. Baby cows are taken from their mothers, placed in similar 'crates' and tethered to the wall to keep them from moving about, all while being fed a diet purposely lacking in vital minerals and fiber, all to make the perfect cut of veal. Chicken eggs are hatched out in incubators, and the chickens spend their entire life packed one on top of another in wire cages hardly tall enough for them to stand up in. I get dozens of letters in the mail every year from horse rescue groups looking for homes for Premarin foals, but I've only ever gotten one letter from a group who was actually trying to do something to help the MARES. Premarin producing mares have a nice life, part of the time. They get to live outdoors in large groups, enjoying the grass and sunshine. Until they get pregnant, then it's into the barn for the next so many months, confined to a stall with a bag stuck under your tail, just so middle-aged women don't get hot flashes. And meanwhile the foal gets tossed by the wayside, a 'by product' of Premarin production.
Do you remember when you were a kid, getting fried chicken for summer picnics? Now think about the last time to picked up a bucket of fried chicken on the weekend. Those thighs and drumsticks just don't look as plump as they used to, do they? Heck, there's hardly any wing in that bucket. That's because that chicken probably spent her whole life in a tiny little cage, hardly moving around, being fed unappetizing supplements, and never grew or muscled out properly to make a nice chunk of chicken.
Dairy cows are slightly better off. They don't have to stand around in the milking barn all day at least, though I'm not sure what the situation is these days with those milk-production boosting drugs and supplements. I haven't noted it to be a widespread practice at least in my part of the country but I can cite at least one farm that still practices tail docking. Upon noticing to my outrage a farm full of Holsteins with their tails chopped off, I had to call my mother who grew up on a dairy farm and ask her if they had docked the tails of the cows at her farm. She said no, but she knew that the practice existed. I've since read that 'nicking and docking' are BANNED in the UK and a number of European countries.
Many of what the New Jersey Department of Agriculture calls 'routine animal agricultural practices performed by farms on a daily basis' have been CONDEMNED as cruel by the American Veterinary Medical Association, yet these practices continue. How can a country that is so forward thinking when it comes to human rights be so backwards when it comes to the basic rights of animals?
Here's a Glouceshershire Old Spots sow and her little piggies as they were meant to be, roaming free range in an orchard! You're never going to hear me say 'don't eat meat.' I'm not a vegetarian, I'm never going to be a vegetarian, and I don't think you should have to be either. If you are vegan or a vegetarian, more power to you! I wish I was that strong. But while we might eventually convince 60% of the world to drive hybrid cars, we're never going to convince them all to eat soybeans instead of beef. We're not going to stop the slaughter of domestic livestock. But we CAN do our best to see that these animals don't suffer. What can you do to help? Go to Farm Sanctuary to find out more about cruel farming practices, and how you can help change the legislature that allows it! And you know, if you happen to have 40 odd acres and no mule, maybe you can adopt one.

I may not be a Veg, but I applaud those who are!
Says creator GreenBites of this design: Being a smart investor, and being a Vegetarian or a Vegan, you are really bullish on saving lives. Invest in nature, invest in peace, invest in lives. And we will get the returns that we never dreamt

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