Many of us go to the store to buy our meat products such as beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. We browse the isles, examining the clean, packaged item and our only thought is, “which one looks like it has the least fat? ” Most of us fail to think about the process it took to put the meat there, and view the meat as an object instead of once a graceful, living thing. These packages of meat that are tossed into your shopping cart are most likely from a factory farm.
According to the Huffington Post factory farms produce 99. % of chickens used for food, 97% of hens used for egg production, 95% of pigs used for food, and 78% of cows used for food. Although these industrial farms take precaution and follow the laws set forth by the government to ensure the livestock are slaughtered humanely, untrained workers, unenforced laws, and countless errors that take place before and during the slaughter cause suffering for the animal (Welty 192-206). Therefore, this paper will serve to educate common consumers on what forms of animal abuse take place in the factory farm industry.
Individuals such as Stephan Budiansky, an American author and deputy editor of U. S News and World Report, however, reject the animal rights movement. He believes humans are naturally paramount to all other species, and that both animals and humans equally benefit from this interaction. He states that suffering of the animal is just part of the process. Unlike Budiansky, animal rights activist Nathan Rankle, the founder of Mercy for Animals, a non-profit organization, argues that there is an unnecessary amount of excess suffering and torturing of animals before and during the slaughter in factory farms that needs to be ended.
To understand the countless forms of abuse that take place in a factory farm its crucial to know just what a factory farm is. The Oxford Dictionary defines a factory farm as “A system of rearing livestock using intensive methods by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions. ” According to Beth Roberts, from the department of Natural Resource Sciences and Biological Resources Engineering at the University of Maryland, the old concept of the family farm where livestock are raised in outdoor pastures is dead.
Instead large agribusiness corporations’ own “factory farms”. This concept came into place in order to meet the growing demand for increased food production while minimizing the cost. Animals living in factory farms experience deadly diseases, overcrowding and unnecessary cruelty and mutilation. Overcrowding usually involves keeping animals in extremely small spaces to the extent where they don’t have any space to turn around or lie down (PETA, Factory Farming: Misery For Animals).
Since they are so closely packed together in large dark sheds the idea of sanitation is almost unheard of. Animals such as chickens reside in their own waste (PETA, Chickens Used for Food). Mutilation, or inflicting serious damage, takes place in most factory farms. Animals such as pigs have their ears notched, are castrated, and have their tails cut off without any anesthesia. Chickens are de-beaked without any anesthesia, and other animals such as cattle are intentionally punched and kicked just to make them get up and move faster (Cassuto 60).
A majority of factory-farmed animals will never know the feeling of warmth from the sun, or do anything remotely natural (PETA, Factory Farming: Misery for Animals). The reason behind this is to maximize profit. Packing as many animals as possible in the smallest spaces, denying them medical care if they become injured, and going to extreme measures to limit some of the animals food consumption, like de-beaking chickens as stated earlier, maximizes these large agribusiness corporation’s profit (Roberts 72). Over 8. 5 billion factory farmed animals are killed for food each year in the United States (mercyforanimals. rg, The Problem).
The likelihood for animals to experience unnatural suffering and stress during the slaughter process is exceedingly high (Welty 1). In the case of cattle there are several possible errors that can take place during the slaughter. The first step in cattle slaughter by federal law requires the cattle to be stunned (Welty 176). The most common method is captive bolt stunning. A captive bolt gun is a small hand held device that is placed on the top of the animal’s head. Once it’s shot it rapidly sends a bolt of energy directly to the animal’s brain (Welty 176).
If this is performed correctly the animal is stunned instantly and goes brain dead, if the cow avoids the shock or the mechanism isn’t placed in the correct spot they will most likely regain consciousness before the slaughter (Neves 42). To discover the effectiveness of stunning, Neves, the author of Meat Science, conducted a study including 434 cattle using captive bolt stunning and assessed the welfare of the animal. Neves found that 67% of the cattle were shot in the wrong position, with 52% being shot 2cm away from the ideal spot, and 15% at more than 4cm away from the ideal spot.
Cattle not properly stunned showed signs of spontaneous blinking and responded to tongue pinching an entire minute after its throat was slit. This data heavily backs up the idea that even with the most effective methods of stunning worker error still contributes to the potential for the animal to suffer. However, not all factory farms use this high tech technology. Mushroom-head stunners/non-penetrative captive bolt guns, electric shock, and in developing countries stunning with a sledgehammer is still practiced (Welty 176). These methods increase the chance of the cattle regaining consciousness before the slaughter.
Mushroom-head stunners don’t penetrate the skull, only causing unconsciousness if placed in the correct spot. Electric shock involves running the animals head through electrified water, however, this method is specific to Chicken slaughter. Once the cow is “stunned” it’s forcibly lifted off the ground by one leg. Next, a worker will slit its carotid artery and let the animal bleed out. Ramon Romano, a former slaughterhouse worker made a statement to the Washington Post explaining how he regularly cuts the legs off of cows that are still aware of everything that’s happening to them.
He stated, “They blink. They make noises. The head moves, the eyes are wide and looking around…They die piece by piece. ” (PETA, Cows Used for Food) This evidence solidifies the agony these gentle giants face in factory farms during slaughter. Slaughterhouses work at extremely fast paces, slaughter is not halted just because the animal wasn’t properly stunned, and the animal suffers at their expense. Forms of abuse don’t just take place in the slaughter, factory farmed animals are subject to the most abuse beforehand.
Depending on the animal and purpose, the conditions factory farms raise their animals in differs greatly (Cassuto 61). As stated earlier most animals will experience infections, overcrowding, and unnecessary cruelty and mutilation. In the case of chickens, the most abused animals on the planet according to PETA, a nonprofit organization devoted to the ethical treatment of animals, live their life in complete confinement. Chickens for the purpose of egg producing need to be female; therefore, male chicks are killed right after they’re born by being throw into a grinder alive.
The females are then de-beaked, a process where the beak is removed without the use of painkillers by a hot blade in order to prevent aggressive tendencies towards one another, workers, and limit their food consumption. These birds will feel pain from the de-beaking process for up to a month (PETA, “Glass Walls”). Next, their toes are clipped and they’re sent to live in “grow out” facilities until they’re old enough to produce eggs (Cassuto 61). In order to reach maturity in the least amount of time factory farms pump Chickens with antibiotics.
The antibiotics used to make these birds grow at an exponential rate in order to increase production have adverse effects on the bird’s health. They grow so fast to the point where their body can’t support their weight; this results in the inability to walk or stand (PETA, “Glass Walls”). After chickens reach maturity with the help of antibiotics, they are violently thrown by workers into two square foot wired battery cages eight tiers high with roughly 10 birds per cage (PETA, The Chicken Industry).
These birds live in their own waste, causing many to die from “chronic respiratory diseases, weakened immune systems, bronchitis, and “ammonia burn,” a painful eye condition” (PETA, The Chicken Industry). Not only are they subject to disease, the small wire crates cause osteoporosis, a condition where “bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue” (oxforddictionaries. com). Many chickens will break their legs, unable to struggle through the crammed space to reach water, and ultimately die (PETA, The Egg Industry).
The battery cages are so packed to the point where the bird’s feathers are rubbed off from constantly being pushed against them, causing unsightly rashes. Unfortunately, due to constant stress on their body from hormones that make them produce eggs unnaturally fast, female chickens productivity will decrease significantly after one to two years so they’re sent to slaughter. Since, the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 doesn’t include chickens, only cattle and pork, most of them are killed while remaining completely conscious (Bartling 29).
In the short documentary “Glass Walls” by PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals), they open by explaining the superior cognitive abilities of a pig. However, these sensitive, intelligent animals are treated anything but. Graphic clips display mothering pigs in the industry, bound to metal stalls without enough room to lie down. Piglets that are deemed undesirable because they’re too small or sick are killed by a method called “thumping”. Secret footage of a factory farm worker shows him performing this method, laughing as he throws a small piglet on the ground until it dies.
The film then cuts to pigs waiting for slaughter in crowded indoor, filthy pens. Injured pigs are kept in designated pens, and are sent right to slaughter instead of receiving medical care to minimize cost. Pigs can suffer from leg injuries by falling in slats in the pens, arthritis, and rectal prolapse, or insides coming out of its bottom, due to pressure on the abdominals from antibiotics made to make pigs larger faster. This treatment is unnecessary in the factory farm industry. Common consumers are unaware of the animal abuse that takes place in factory farms.
Natalie Purcell, the author of “Cruel Intimacies and Risky Relationships: Accounting for Suffering in Industrial Livestock Production”, suggests that it’s because humans distance themselves as far away as possible from where the meat they consume comes from. Because all we see is the packaged meat in the grocery store we fail to have an intimate connection and feeling of empathy for the animal. We can’t see it crammed in small spaces unable to turn around, brutally kicked or punched for no reason, see its frightened face after its throat is slit, hear its agonizing cries, or experience the life leaving its body.
If we saw this taking place and the public was more aware of just how inhumane factory farms are, they would encourage change. Another reason for the continuing abuse of factory farm animals is unenforced laws. The federal laws and regulations in place to ensure “humane” slaughter are seriously out of date. The Humane Slaughter Act enacted in 1958, only states that livestock be slaughtered “humanely” without specific instruction. The U. S Department of Agriculture (USDA) excludes poultry and fish from this act.
This means billions of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and fish do not need to be “rendered insensible to pain before being hoisted, shackled, and cut” (Cassuto 64). The Animal Welfare act enacted in 1966 is the major federal statute that protects the well being of animals, however, it specifically doesn’t include farm animals. Not only do the laws in place not ensure humane methods of slaughter, they’re extremely unenforced by the government. Reprimanding someone who breaks the law is extremely challenging, first the state must prove intent, which is hard considering the thousands of animals under industrial food processor care.
They can easily claim that they had no idea about each animal’s condition, which completes their defense. Since it’s so hard to convict a major food corporation as guilty, considering all they need to state is how its impossible to ensure the well being of each and every animal, law enforcement is reluctant to enforce the minimal amount of laws provided because it’s a waste of time (Welty 187). By now it should be clear, the extent to which animals are abused in factory farms is completely unwarranted. These animals don’t have a voice to speak up their mistreatment, but you can.
There are actions that can be taken to decrease these immoral acts from taking place. First, you can refuse to buy products from industries that are known mistreat their farm animals. Companies such as Tyson, and Perdue have been known to torture their animals. Countless videos can be found on YouTube as well as mercyforanimals. org of workers for these companies, kicking, mutilating, and torturing the animals for their own enjoyment. Instead purchase meat that contain the label grass fed, cage free, free range, USDA organic, certified humane, and the most prestigious, Animal Welfare Approved (stopfactoryfarms. rg, Know Your Food Labels Part I).
These labels mean the animals were raised in conditions with high welfare standards. Individuals can go even further by signing petitions to encourage updated slaughter laws, better conditions for the animals, and discourage big name companies such as Perdue from animal mistreatment. Petitions can be found on mercyforanimals. org and peta. org. A more extreme method of action would be converting to vegetarianism, not eating any form of animal flesh, or veganism, not eating animal flesh or byproduct of an animal such as milk, and cheese.
According to mercyforanimals. org a vegetarian can save 31 factory farm animals a year. Although it doesn’t seem like much when talking about one individual, imagine 1,000 vegetarians, which save 31,000 factory farm animals from slaughter. Although changing your food source doesn’t sound pleasant, it’s not hard to change the brands you buy if you still choose to consume meat. This can help save the lives of factory farm animals that are subjected to abuse throughout their short lives. Small change makes all the difference.