Little Piggy / Fowl Play / Talking
Turkey / Battery / Lamb
to the Slaughter / Milky No-Way / Load
of Bull / Fishy Business / Slaughter
/ Stunned / Electric
Stunning / Captive Bolt Pistol /
Electrified Water Bath / Ritual
Slaughter / Free Range
you just landed on planet Earth and want to find out more
about the diet of the human race. You know that people who eat animals
run a much greater risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. They are
more likely to suffer from gallstones, obesity, diet-related diabetes,
kidney stones, food poisoning and constipation! You also know that livestock
farming is a hopelessly inefficient way of feeding people and that it
causes pollution on a staggering scale. On top of that, you have discovered
that incarcerating and killing animals causes great pain and suffering.
Coming from an advanced planet which encourages compassion and wisdom,
you obviously expect to find that most people on Earth will be vegetarians
Instead you discover
that the average person in the U.S. subsidizes the abuse and killing of
animals by eating more than 35 animals a year or 2,600 over a 75 year
lifetime, shown in table 1, left.
You find it impossible
to believe that over 9 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every
year, shown in table 2, right.
But how are these
animals raised and killed? Surely humankind must show some compassion
and respect for our fellow creatures with which we share the Earth?
Little Piggy went to Market
Pigs are highly intelligent,
social animals capable of living up to 20 years. Today, over 95 percent
of pigs are raised in automated confinement buildings spending their entire
lives indoors. They are slaughtered at only six months of age. Their short
lives are filled with misery.
The 'breeding stock'
- female pigs kept to produce the piglets who are killed for meat - are
kept in gestation crates while they are pregnant. Here they are unable
to walk or turn around. Some of the larger sows barely fit in the crate.
They are forced to live on cold, bare cement floors in their own excrement
during their 4 month pregnancy. The European Commissions Scientific
Veterinary Committee condemned gestation crates in a 1997 report because
of the serious health and welfare problems. It stated sows in stalls have
weaker bones and muscles, heart problems and more urinary tract infections.
Crating pigs can also send them mad. Many pigs show 'stereotyped behavior',
moving their heads backwards and forwards in an exact and constantly repeated
motion, gnawing on their bars with the precision of a metronome. It is
the same syndrome which causes zoo animals to pace relentlesssly, and
as the UK government supported research states: 'this behavior resembles
in many respects the development in humans of chronic psychiatric disorders'.
Sow stalls have been
banned in the UK and Sweden. Finland and the Netherlands have bans that
will come into effect by 2008. The rest of the European Union has banned
sows in stalls after the first four weeks of pregnancy and this will be
implemented by 2013. They are still legal in the USA and are used by almost
About a week before she is due to give birth, the sow is moved to another
type of crate - a farrowing crate - with a concrete or metal floor. Pigs
are devoted mothers and
would normally spend days building a nest of leaves or straw. In a crate
they cannot do this and so lapse into stereotyped behavior where they
repeatedly try to build a nest in their barren cell.
The bars on the crates
stop the mother pigs from being able to move. This causes the pregnant
animals to ache all over and many have back and leg problems. The bars
also stop them from reaching their babies when they give birth, although
the babies can reach their mothers teats to suckle. Short chains
or rubber straps are used to immobilize the mother to give the piglets
easy access to her udders. This type of tethering causes her udders to
develop lacerations and infections due to her inability to get away from
her suckling babies. Five days after her piglets are taken away, the sow
is made pregnant again and the whole misery-go-round continues.
would stay with their mother for about 15 weeks. However, on factory farms,
they are taken away from their mother at 2 to 3 weeks, weighing only about
15 pounds, and crowded into small nursery pens surrounded
by metal bars and concrete. By this time approximately 15% have died.
are placed in crowded, filthy pens in a confinement building to be fattened
and finished. How crowded? Industry personnel are typically
advised to allow a little more than one square yard of floor space for
Crowding, and the
boredom of confinement produces behaviors such as fighting and tail-biting.
To prevent damage to the product, the industry castrates the
piglets, cuts off their tails, and clips their teeth all without
causes disease to run rampant causing further suffering for the pigs.
Pork 95, a trade journal, reported that, A Minnesota slaughter
check survey found that every participating herd had pneumonia. And, on
average, 70% of each herds animals showed symptoms.
of 6,000 slaughtered pigs revealed that 71% suffered from pneumonia.
in every four commercial pig operations went the entire year without requesting
the services of a veterinarian. The reason for such cruel overcrowding?
As the meat industry journal, National Hog Farmer succinctly put it, Crowding
pigs pays. Once the young pigs reach approximately 250 pounds (about
six months old), they are crammed into trucks for transport to the slaughterhouse.
Many will not survive the horribly cruel transport conditions. According
to the Livestock Conservation Institute, Each year, 80,000 hogs
leave the farm but never reach the market.
While red meat consumption declines, more chickens are being
eaten than ever before. Sadly, some people believe that white meat is
somehow healthy. The truth is that chicken flesh, like all flesh, can
contribute to heart disease, cancer, obesity and many other chronic diseases.
Not to mention that it is also major cause of food poisoning.
Chicken farming is
outright cruel. Chicks are kept in sheds called broiler houses; broiler
being an industry term for chickens killed for their flesh. Up to 100,000
birds are crammed in these houses, with less than half a square foot of
space per bird (about the space of a computer screen). The floor is concrete
and laid with sawdust, wood shavings or chopped straw; it soon becomes
covered with the animals excrement. The filth may attract rats and
flies bringing disease. Because the birds are forced to spend their entire
lives standing in their own droppings, they are in terrible pain from
burns to their feet and legs, breast blisters, and ulcerated feet. (Think
how sore a small mouth ulcer is and imagine having them all over your
feet.) Many of the windowless sheds are artificially lit for 24 hours
a day. This deters the chicks from sleeping and instead makes them eat
more. A fat bird means more money.
Broiler chickens are
ready for slaughter at 1.8kg/4 pounds live weight in six weeks
half the time it once took. They go to death with the bodies of adult
chickens and the blue eyes and high pitched cheep of little
chicks. The birds grow abnormally fast because they are fed high protein
feed, growth promoting antibiotics and are selectively bred to do so.
The result is that the bones of many break under their ballooning weight
and their hearts are frequently unable to cope. In fact, an article in
the agricultural journal, Feedstuffs, stated according to experts
broilers now grow so rapidly that the heart and lungs are not developed
well enough to support the remainder of the body, resulting in congestive
heart failure and tremendous death losses.
holidays are a time when families and friends gather to enjoy time together,
celebrate, and be thankful for what we have. Sadly, this celebration has
become synonymous with the violence of eating turkeys.
turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving. There are still wild turkeys
in the United States. It makes you sad to think of the farmed birds when
you have seen them free in their natural environment. Wild turkeys are
actually very handsome, with black wing and tail feathers that shimmer
red-green and copper, contrasting with their white wing bars nothing
like the all-white, broad-breasted, meat strains bred in our farms today.
Wild turkeys enjoy roosting in trees, but build their nests on the ground.
If they are threatened, they can fly as far as one mile at an amazing
88km/h (55mph). It is strange that so many people think turkeys cant
fly. Seeds, nuts, roots, tubers, grubs, grasses, legumes and sometimes
small amphibians and molluscs (snails and slugs) make up their varied
diet. The turkeys semi-wild nature means that they suffer very badly
in factory farms.
In the U.S. more than
95% of farmed birds are intensively confined. One day old chicks (known
as poults) are either placed in large, windowless broiler sheds or in
pole barns (like warehouses) which have natural light and ventilation.
Up to 25,000 birds may be crammed into a shed giving only 2.5sq.ft
to each. As they grow, they can hardly move and the floor becomes putrid
and stinks of excrement. Like broiler chickens, the turkeys are in agony
from burns and ulcers on their feet and breasts.
Instead of the wide
variety of food that a turkey is meant to eat, farmed birds are given
pellets of the same unnaturally high protein feed, day in and day out.
A boring, never changing diet causes frustration and stress to almost
all farmed animals. Because turkeys are forced to grow quickly and have
an unnaturally large breast size, many are in severe pain as their heart
and legs cannot withstand this abnormally rapid growth.
Millions of baby birds
die mainly from heart attacks before they reach slaughter weight. Turkeys
are never cannibals in the wild but in overcrowded, filthy, boring conditions,
they may peck at each other relentlessly. Instead of changing the conditions,
some are debeaked to prevent injury or death. In debeaking, slightly more
than half of the upper beak is painfully cut off with a red-hot blade,
and the lower beak is blunted. The upper beak is left shorter than the
lower beak, making it difficult for the bird to grasp feathers or skin.
Turkeys have their
toes clipped to prevent stress-induced fighting. According to Raising
Poultry the Modern Way, the two inside toes are clipped so that
the nails are completely removed. Surgical scissors or an electric debeaker
may be used.
At four to six months
old, the end comes for the birds and many are destined to become a traditional
oven-ready turkey. Those worn out from constant breeding are made into
processed meats, such as turkey ham or sausages.
Some of the saddest
turkeys are the ones kept for breeding. They can grow to the huge weight
of 25 pounds and have such diseased hip joints that they can barely walk.
Isnt it ironic
that when people sit down for a holiday dinner to celebrate peace and
the better things in life, they do it by first killing another feeling
being? When people ooh and aah over the turkey theyre munching into,
they close their eyes to the miserable life the turkey was forced to endure.
It is time we learned to give thanks with compassion and reverence for
chickens kept for their eggs fare better? After all, youve seen
the ads and egg boxes that proudly declare country fresh and
farm fresh. Surely this means the hens are free to roam the
fields and woods? Not so. Today about 98% of hens in egg production are
caged, most for their entire lives. They can never spread their wings,
scratch in the Earth, perch or make a nest, dust-bathe, search for food
that is tasty and natural, or even walk or run.
Instead, five to seven
hens are packed into a cage of only 1.48ft x 1.64ft (slightly bigger than
your average microwave oven) and are never allowed out again until they
are taken for slaughter. The average wing span of a hen is 2.5 ft. so
movement and natural behavior is severely restricted.
Thousands of cages are stacked into windowless sheds with artificial
lighting for about 17 hours a day to promote egg laying. Up to 100,000
birds are packed in these sheds which may be staffed by one or two attendants.
They are all fed, watered and have their eggs collected by an automatic
system. When a hen lays an egg, it rolls onto a conveyor belt and is taken
away to be boxed. Birds of 18 weeks old are put into these cages and are
not removed until they are 18 months to two years old, when they are killed.
Try to imagine the frustration, the boredom, and the anger that this system
creates. Hens in more natural conditions will often live for seven years
sometimes much more. Slaughtered battery hens are processed into
soups, baby foods, stock cubes, school dinners or used in the restaurant
And what happens to
the male chicks? Because battery hens are bred to be lean, to eat little
and lay a lot, 200 million male day old chicks are killed every year
too skinny for meat, unable to lay. Their bodies are used as fertilizer
or as feed for farmed animals.
Hens in the wild lay
only 20 eggs a year, which will mostly have been fertilized by a male
and will hatch. There are no males in battery sheds so all eggs are infertile.
The battery hen has been bred to produce an unbelievable 275 eggs a year.
However, this breeding has not stripped them of their instincts and desires.
Like hens in the wild, they need a safe, private place to lay their eggs,
something which is not available when sharing a cage with so many other
birds. The process can take up to an hour or more, during which time they
will attempt to hide from their cage mates. The frustration often makes
them aggressive. Hens lay eggs because it is a bodily function which they
have no control over, not because they are happy.
When the hens
output cycle begins to decline, U.S. hens are either sent to slaughter
or forced-molted. Forced-molting involves starving the hens
and keeping them in total darkness for up to 18 days in order to shock
their bodies into another egg-laying cycle. The birds may lose more than
25% of their body weight and it is common for 5% to 10% to die.
Creatures whose nature
is to move around almost ceaselessly during daylight hours must, when
restricted like this, somehow substitute their desire to peck and scratch
in the ground. The only source of interest left to them is the feathers
and flesh of their cage mates which they frequently peck sometimes
to death. If five humans were squashed into a phone booth, they would
probably become aggressive after a few months (or even days?!).
could be stopped by providing a decent amount of space. Instead, most
farmed birds are debeaked a red-hot blade removes part of the beak
which contains sensitive tissues. Some birds die from bleeding or shock.
The combination of
a lack of fresh air and daylight, selective breeding, and caging in overcrowded
conditions has led to the spread of diseases and to distress and suffering.
Prolapses (the entire
uterus is expelled along with the egg), egg peritonitis, cancers, infectious
bronchitis and Gumboro disease (viral infection where afflicted birds
suffer severe liver and kidney disease and are listless, nervous, sleepy,
dehydrated and have a whitish diarrhea) are just a few of the conditions
that thrive in battery houses. The bones of battery hens are often so
brittle that they will snap like dry twigs. The Agricultural and Food
Research Council states that one third of battery hens suffer from broken
to the Slaughter
are kept for their wool, skin, meat and milk. Most of us like to imagine
sheep out in pastures or on green rolling hills eating grass next to their
bouncing lambs. But in the U.S., more and more sheep are being raised
in crowded feedlots or other confinement systems.
In pastures or on
feedlots, sheep are subjected to extreme temperatures during the summer
and winter. In 1994, over 100,000 sheep and lambs died from weather-related
causes. Confinement adds an additional amount of stress due to overcrowding.
Approximately, 20% of the lambs born in the U.S. die before two months
Most sheep in the
U.S. are raised to produce wool and lambs for slaughter. About 30
35% of the income (for any given sheep) comes from wool; the rest of the
income comes from the slaughter of lambs. Once sheep whose wool/lamb production
has started to decline they are sent to slaughter.
Millions of lambs
between the ages of one week and six months are killed in the U.S. Many
are slaughtered for ethnic and religious holidays. The number of lambs
killed in the Spring is especially high.
In the U.S. most wool
comes from either domestically raised sheep or sheep raised in Australia
or New Zealand. The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals
for Australia & New Zealand (1995) allows for tail docking, castration,
and surgical removal of skin folds without anesthesia. Shearing sheep
causes bruising and cuts. Sheep also commonly have their tails docked
to reduce fly problems. At times, their tails are cut too short and this
increases the animals likelihood of suffering from rectal prolapse,
which is estimated to affect up to 5% of commercial lambs in the U.S.
The industry, in its
desire to increase the amount of wool taken from each sheep, has turned
to genetics to produce excessive and unhealthy amounts of wool from each
Normally, sheep breed
once a year and have one or two lambs. The ewe (female sheep) naturally
comes into season in the autumn or winter and the five-month pregnancy
ensures that most lambs are born in the warmer conditions of spring when
food is plentiful. But farmers, lured by the higher prices paid for Easter
lamb, change this natural breeding cycle so that lambs are born earlier.
Many never survive the cold. The ewes are made to come into season early
with the use of hormones or by being kept indoors and controlling the
amount of light they receive the decline in daylight hours being
responsible for triggering estrus (mating time).
The meat from older sheep is called mutton and is less popular than lamb
so is mostly used in processed foods. Ewes are able to live to the age
of 15 or so but are slaughtered after four to eight years.
Sheep farming is also
disastrous for North American wildlife. Sheep on the range are easy prey
for native wild predators. To protect the sheep and other animals and
ranchers profit margins, millions of coyotes, bears, mountain lions,
bobcats, and other wildlife are poisoned, trapped and shot to death every
year. This slaughter is carried out with our own tax dollars by an arm
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture euphemistically known as Wildlife
you were an alien visitor, by now you would surely be wondering if all
creatures on Earth took second place to money. And of course the answer
would have to be yes. But the biggest shock is yet to come.
Like many humans,
an alien might think that you didnt have to hurt the cow to take
her milk. What the alien would need to know was that a cow can only give
significant amounts of milk for the ten months after she has given birth.
After a ten month pregnancy, a cows teetering calf is separated
from her after only one or two days. Thats how long it takes for
the calf to suckle the disease-preventing colostrum from his mother but
not long enough to snatch the milk that is all kept for humans. USDA statistics
show that in 1940, cows averaged 2.3 tons of milk per year. And, despite
large milk surpluses, Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH/BST) was approved in
1993 to further increase milk outputs. In 1996 the average was 8.3 tons
per cow. Some BGH treated cows have recently produced more than 30 tons
of milk a year, more than her baby calf could ever drink.
If the calf was male,
he would probably be taken away from his mother forever and put into a
small wooden crate where he could not turn around, stretch, or even lie
down comfortably. Every year, approximately one million calves are confined
in crates measuring just two by five feet. They are chained by the neck
to restrict all movement. Some calves are killed just a few hours or days
old to be sold as low-grade bob veal for products like frozen
From birth to weaning,
some of the female calves that replace older cows in the milking herd
are kept in small huts. They are taken away from their mothers, are unable
to have contact with other animals and are unable to roam.
But what of the mother
cows? Their eighth calf will probably be their last. The genetic manipulation
and dietary controls which have led to a cows extraordinary output
of milk carry with them a cost, all borne by the cow. She has a one-in-five
chance of her udders secreting pus and painfully swelling with mastitis,
and the antibiotics forced up her udders dont have much success
in controlling the disease. Because of the strain of carrying oversized
udders, lameness from foot and leg disorders is common.
A cows body consumes so much energy for milk production that her
simply waste away. In fact, a quarter of dairy cows are so exhausted by
the process they never see their third year, despite having a life expectancy
of 21 years or more. Most cows are killed at four to seven years, often
pregnant when they die. Their meat is then used for soup, burgers, or
About 95% of dairies
dehorn their cows. Most use an electric dehorner. The most common method
to remove the horns involves the scooping, gouging, or cutting the horns
from the cows head.
As long as a cow is
breathing upon reaching the slaughterhouse, she is deemed fit for human
consumption, and is therefore valuable. Downers, are what
the meat industry calls animals too sick to stand or walk. Each year,
thousands of downers are kicked, beaten, and even dragged by a leg onto
and off of transport trucks so that they reach slaughter while still breathing.
Load of Bull
In the United States,
cattle are often seen grazing along highways and roads, apparently living
what some might
imagine is an ideal life. Of course, most people dont know what
the animals have been through and what still lies in store. A few weeks
after birth, cattle are forced to endure branding (causing third-degree
burns), de-horning, and castration. Castration is performed by slicing
off the testicles with a knife or cutting off the blood supply until they
fall off. For economic reasons, these procedures are often done without
Because they live
on wide open lands, cattle are not adequately protected against the elements
of the weather. In 1997, thousands of calves froze to death in New Mexico
during a cold spell. Left on their own, many of these animals suffer from
various diseases and injured or ailing animals do not receive adequate
When it is time for
cattle to be rounded up, they are often frightened and confused because
they are not used to confinement. Many animals are injured when they are
corralled and packed onto trucks. The cattle will go without food or water
and have to endure crowded and filthy conditions during these trips, which
sometimes last days, spanning thousands of miles and covering several
states. Their trip ends at an auction or feedlot. Feedlots, enormous fenced
areas, can keep over ten thousand animals at one time. Feedlots exist
so that cattle can get fattened up before slaughter; ranchers are paid
by the pound, not the animal.
have now seen how land animals are treated by humans as mere commodities
devoid of any feelings. So what of the creatures of the oceans and rivers?
Oh, we dont have to worry about them because fish dont
feel pain! A convenient excuse that allows fish to be treated as
though they have no right to be on planet Earth. If we continue the way
were going, it wont be long before they arent.
Eighty to 100 million
tons of fish are caught each year, mostly from only five groups
herrings, cod, jacks, redfish, and mackerel. And to catch these, all kinds
of other creatures suffer. Driftnets many miles long catch everything
in their way including dolphins, porpoises, small whales, rays, sharks,
diving sea birds and species of fish which are not wanted.
large ships that drag a heavy metal bar with a net behind it across the
ocean floor, scoop up everything in their path leaving a devastated wasteland
behind. After the specific fish being sought is removed, the rest
millions of tons of sea animals, like crabs, shellfish, and nontargeted
fish annually are dumped back into the water, almost all dead and
Those fish which are
still alive by the time they make it on to the decks of fishing boats
have one of two fates. Either they are allowed to suffocate to death or
they are disemboweled with a gutting knife. Fish such as plaice will desperately
cling to life for hours out of water and may well be filleted alive.
The myth that fish
are cold blooded and therefore cant suffer is a difficult one to
shake. Like all vertebrates, the fish nervous system consists of a brain,
spinal cord, and nerves which enable the animal to feel good and bad sensations.
Of course fish feel pain.
Fish farming has become
big business. For example, about 40 percent of the salmon consumed today
have lived in captivity for most of their lives. Wild salmon migrate gradually
from freshwater to the sea. On fish farms, however, salmon are transferred
from freshwater to saltwater abruptly which causes up to 50 percent to
die. Wild salmon cover many hundreds of miles while swimming freely in
the oceans and migrating to and from breeding grounds. On fish farms,
trapped in small ponds and cages, they exhibit the frustration and distress
of confinement by continual leaping.
to the Slaughter
you were from outer space, your alien mind would have been seriously challenged
by this point. But the worst may be yet to come as you find out that humans
happily eat meat but refuse to think about from where it comes because
it upsets them. Most people dont want to work in a slaughterhouse,
have never set foot in one, and refuse to listen to descriptions of them.
How much business would a restaurant do if, when someone ordered lamb
chops, they were given a sharp knife and a three-month-old lamb and told
to cut her throat?
So desperate is the
meat industry to keep peoples eyes closed that they guard factory
farms and slaughterhouses like Fort Knox to keep the public out. Yet this
is where many peoples food comes from. Just what do they have to
hide? As a superior being you firmly believe that the truth cannot harm
a person, only help them to make the right choices. So here it is
Slaughter, like any other business, is subject to all the usual business
concerns efficiency, incentives, cost control, and so on. The animals
who go through its doors are merely units of production and the quicker
theyre killed the higher the profits. For the businesses that own
them, slaughterhouses are simply industrial production lines. For the
animals, however, slaughterhouses are the ultimate house of horror at
the end of their tortured lives.
Animals are packed
into overcrowded trucks for their torturous journey to the slaughterhouse
where they are unloaded into a series of pens. Chickens and other birds
are normally left in their crates to await their slaughter.
In the U.S., animals
slaughtered for food are normally bled to death by cutting the animals
throat with a hand-held or mechanical blade. According to the Humane Slaughter
Act, passed in 1958, animals must first be stunned,
made unconscious to reduce suffering.
In reality, the methods
of stunning themselves are often far less than humane, when they work
at all. The meat industrys continual drive for speed to increase
profits often makes effective stunning impossible. Whats more, animals
killed for so-called ritual, or religious, slaughter are exempt from these
humane rules. And chickens and other birds, who represent
over 90% of the animals killed for food in the U.S., are exempt from the
federal Humane Slaughter Act altogether.
For the animals required
to be stunned, different methods are used for different animals. Electric
shock is used on pigs, most sheep and some calves. An electrified water
bath is used almost exclusively for birds. A captive bolt pistol is used
on cattle, most calves, and some sheep.
This method involves the use of a stunner, which looks like
a pair of headphones attached to an insulated handle. When the animal
enters the slaughterhouse, a worker clamps the stunner to the animals
head and triggers an electric shock which is supposed to render her unconscious.
As with all high speed
slaughter operations, human or mechanical errors are common resulting
in inadequately stunned animals. In addition, there is no definitive way
to know how much electric current is required to properly stun an animal.
The industry often lowers the amount of electric current used to stun
animals to prevent a condition called blown loins a
bursting of capillaries that causes bruising to the animals flesh
making it less valuable. According to the journal, Meat and Poultry (October,
1992), Insufficient current will result in a paralyzed hog which
will feel everything.
According to a 1996 USDA survey, the stunning procedures in 36% of the
sheep and pig, and 64% of the cattle slaughterhouses surveyed were rated
either unacceptable or a serious problem.
slaughtered pigs are stunned with electricity. After being stunned, a
conveyor belt moves the pig to a worker who will place a 30-pound shackle
around the hind leg. The pig is then hoisted by the shackle so that he
or she is hanging upside down. The pig is then swung over to the blood
pit, where a worker will cut the throat, draining her blood. This
process, known as sticking, can occur at rates of 900 pigs
per hour. Again, the pig may be fully conscious at this point if he or
she was not properly stunned. The pig is then taken to a scalding tank
to be dipped into 140ºF water to remove all hair. The pig, still
hanging upside down, is then taken to another area to be gutted and have
the limbs and head cut off.
Cattle are prodded, single file, down a corridor into a restraint device.
Here they are stunned, usually by a mechanical blow to the head, usually
with a captive bolt pistol. The captive bolt pistol works like a regular
pistol except that rather than firing a bullet, it shoots out a metal
rod that remains attached to the gun. The most common use of the captive
bolt pistol is for cows and calves. The pistol is placed against an animals
forehead and the pistol is fired driving the rod through the skull and
into their brain. If done properly, the animal will immediately lose consciousness
but often it isnt done properly. A bad or hurried aim, or a sudden
movement from the animal, and the bolt can miss inflicting agonizing pain
and requiring a second attempt or more. Improperly stunned animals are
often hung upside down by a back leg and moved to the blood pit where
their throat is cut and they bleed to death while obviously conscious.
In the case of calves,
slaughterhouses have been reluctant to use appropriate (ie, penetrating
captive-bolt) stunning methods because doing so destroys the calves brains.
As we said before, there are currently no federal laws in the United States
requiring humane slaughter of birds, such as, chickens, turkeys,
ducks and geese. Yet these animals represent roughly 90% of the animals
killed for food in this country. Stunning is normally used, but it is
done merely to make the slaughtering process more efficient.
Chickens and other
poultry are stuffed cruelly into small crates on the back of large trucks
for transport to slaughter. Their cages are completely open to the weather
exposing them to rain, snow, and often freezing temperatures. When they
arrive at the slaughterhouse, the birds are either yanked from the crates
or the crates are lifted off the truck, often with a crane or forklift.
The birds are then dumped onto a conveyor belt. Individual birds that
fall off the truck or conveyor belt are often left to die of starvation
or to be crushed by vehicles or machinery, since it is not cost efficient
to worry about individual birds.
After first being
hung, fully conscious, by the feet from a moving shackle, the birds reach
an electrified water bath. As the birds move along hanging upside down,
their heads are dragged through an electrified tank of water. As with
electric tongs, the amount of current needed to properly stun birds is
an imprecise science, and the industry is concerned that too much current
can result in a bruised or otherwise damaged body, reducing its value.
The result is birds that may be immobilized, but fully capable of feeling
pain. Some birds, particularly smaller ones, are able to raise their heads
to avoid the stunning tank altogether.
Next, the birds
throats are cut by a slaughterhouse worker, or more commonly a mechanical
blade, and the blood pours from their body. The blade sometimes misses
the primary veins in the neck, or misses the throat altogether. Semi-
or fully-conscious birds then move along to the next station where they
are submerged in scalding hot water to loosen their feathers. Those that
have not bled to death or are still conscious are boiled alive.
As part of their religion, people of both Jewish and Muslim faiths have
special dispensation from the usual rules of slaughter. Animals killed
to provide kosher or halal meat are sent to the knife fully conscious.
It can be a slow and agonizing process for a stressed and terrified creature.
For Jewish shechita
slaughter, a plate moves up from the floor to support the underside of
the cows body and the head is raised by a chin lift which extends
the animals neck so that his/her neck can be cut. When the throat
has been cut, a side gate is raised and a hind leg is shackled. The animal
is then pulled out of the pen by a hoist and moved to an overhead rail.
The animal is supposed
to be killed instantly by a single cut across the neck, however the reality
is somewhat different as the following description of Viva! UK footage
of the killing shows:
cuts the cows throat by slicing across it, backwards and forwards
13 times. The cow jerks away from the knife as far as it can and its
facial reaction shows pain and great aversion. The cow does not collapse
immediately (the filming ends before it does).
A huge problem with
religious slaughter is that millions of animals bleed slowly. Anil, et
al. say: It is well recognized that unstunned calves which bleed
poorly can take a long time to die. (Meat Science 1995; 41(2):113-123.)
Professor Donald Broom,
specialist in farm animal behavior, University of Cambridge says: Animals
are not stunned during the Jewish Shechita or the Muslim Halal ritual
slaughter procedures. There is a period of consciousness after the throat
is cut which may last for 30 seconds to several minutes during which the
animal must be in great pain and distress. (Farm Animal Behavior &
Welfare Bailliere Tindall: 1996)
For Muslim halal slaughter,
sheep and goats are placed on their backs in a metal cradle or simply
hoisted up by a back leg before having their throat slit. Poultry are
held head downwards while their throats are cut.
many people of Muslim and Jewish faith have turned against ritual slaughter
and they have become vegan or vegetarian.
There is a common misconception that free-range means that
the animals do not suffer. However, all animals that are raised for food
suffer during transportation, the stress of handling on the way to the
slaughterhouse and at the slaughterhouse. In reality there is no such
thing as humane slaughter.
Hens raised in a free-range
environment may have more space than those in battery cages, but this
does not necessarily spare them from debeaking. The male chicks are still
discarded (killed immediately after hatching).
Cows must give birth
in order to give milk. The male calves who are born are subject either
to a life as a veal calf or to be raised and slaughtered for
beef. And again, on most commercial farms the cows are slaughtered when
their milk production goes down.
once again youre a visitor to Earth from outer space.
When you see all that the Earthlings are doing in order to eat animals,
you cannot believe your eyes. You could bury your head in the sand and
ignore the problem as many Earthlings do, but you realize that being vegan
is the only choice a rational being would make.
And even though this
may seem overwhelming, you know that as an individual you can make a difference
in the life of every chick who is debeaked, every pig who is immobilized
in a crate, every mother cow whose calf is taken from her
not eating them! Theres an old saying if you cant beat
them join them. In this case, the only way to beat their system is not
to join them. Join Viva! instead. Its always here on Earth to help
you every step of the way.