Farm Animals

We produce food on an industrial scale, that means farm animals too.  Does the fact that an animal is being raised for slaughter mean that it can be raised by torture?

These inhuman practices have to stop.  Learn more about them and how you can help:

What Could be Wrong with the Egg?

I spent years—even decades---denying to myself the occasional reports I heard about the cruelty hidden behind modern egg production.  Those reports, I thought, had to be written by extremists and crazies.  After all I’d eaten eggs all my life---scrambled, fried, poached, in omeletts, cakes, cassaroles, etc.  Eggs are a staple in American life.  So, what could be wrong with the egg?

 

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

If you’re willing to look, you’ll see that modern egg production is shockingly cruel to one of the most gentle of creatures, the laying hen, who was respected in biblical times for her courage and nurturing character.  Today, however, she’s only considered an unfeeling commodity by factory farmers who value the bottom line over the chicken’s welfare.  Here, in brief, are the facts I finally had to accept about the modern egg and the chickens who suffer to produce them:

  1. Fifty percent of all laying chickens are born male but since males can’t lay eggs they are sorted out and killed within a day of their birth, often by being suffocated or ground alive to serve as fodder for pigs.
  2. Most laying hens spend their entire lives in small cages in long metal buildings.  The cages are stacked in long rows and on top of each other so that the feces from above rains down on the chickens below.  They’re called “battery cages.”  The hens can barely turn around, never smell fresh air and never feel the sun on their backs.  This system is used throughout the United States and in Maryland.  When you drive down a country road and see a long metal building with no windows, you’re probably looking at a factory farm for chickens with misery inside.
  3. Because the chickens are raised in unnaturally crowded conditions, their beaks are routinely cut off with a hot blade so they can’t peck each other.  This is not akin to cutting your fingernails because a hen’s beak is infused with nerves.  It is extremely painful, more like cutting your cat or dog’s nails down well within the quick.
  4. Laying hens are periodically subjected to a shockingly cruel process designed to increase their egg production.  It’s called “forced molting.”  Forced molting means that all food is removed from the hens for a period of about two weeks.  This shocks their body into producing more eggs, but, as you can imagine, it is terribly cruel to the hens.
  5. Finally, after their bodies are so wasted that their egg production has waned the hens are shipped to the slaughterhouse to be used in products such as canned soup.

Here's a video of the grueling conditions at one California farm.  We have many operators employing the same,common techniques in Maryland.

Video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

One last point: egg producers don’t want you to know this information so their packages and advertisements are sometimes deceptive.  Don’t be fooled by notes such as “organic” (which only refers to chicken’s feed) or “certified humane” (which is often a marketing ploy that may have absolutely nothing behind it.)  Even the words “free range” can include items 1, 3 and 4 above.  Plus many facilities designated “free range” are really not free range for most of the chickens housed in these crowded, filthy factories.  And, remember, even if the hens are really free-range and really well-treated, all the male chicks were killed at the hatchery---hundreds of millions of them are killed each year in the United States alone.

 

Battery Cages are only one step in the institutionalized torture of hens in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

 

 What’s a conscientious person to do?

So what’s a person to do once she’s finally willing to admit that eggs are cruel?  Only you can answer that question for yourself.  I choose to forego eggs entirely---I use egg substitute when I’m cooking, and I stop by Whole Foods, Zu Coffee, Emily’s Café or Sticky Fingers Bakery for vegan cakes or cookies when I want something sweet.  We’re not dependent on the egg if we choose not to be. We can boycott the cruelty and still eat delicious, healthy and satisfying food.

Ag-Gag Unconstitutional: Huge Victory for Animals and People

ALDF Fights Ag-Gag lawsA U.S. District Court has ruled (for the first time ever) that a state Ag-Gag law is unconstitutional! The case, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is a huge step in preventing notoriously harmful Ag-Gag legislation in Maryland and across the country. The court found an Idaho Ag-Gag law violated the 1st and 14th Amendments and was motivated by unconstitutional animus against animal advocates. 

Under Ag-Gag laws, journalists and members of the public are at risk for documenting animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations.  In holding the Ag-Gag law unconstitutional, the Court found:

  • "ALDF has come forward with abundant evidence that the law was enacted with the discriminatory purpose of silencing animal rights activists who conduct undercover investigations in the agricultural industry."
  • "The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech...concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment."
  • "[A] purpose to discriminate and silence animal welfare groups in an effort to protect a powerful industry cannot justify the passage of [the law]."
  • "A state cannot pick and choose what type of speech or expressive conduct it will allow based on content."
  • "Protecting the private interests of a powerful industry, which produces the public’s food supply, against public scrutiny is not a legitimate government interest." 

Court ruling: http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/8-3-2015-ALDF-decision-ag-gag.pdf

Info from ALDF: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/idaho-ag-gag-law-ruled-unconstitutional-in-federal-court/

Gestation Crates

They Have To Go

In children’s movies and storybooks, pigs are portrayed in a jovial way as being intelligent and able to interact with humans and other pigs in a meaningful way…and that is the truth. Most animal scientists consider pigs to be highly trainable and very sociable. Contrary to their reputation, pigs are very clean animals who, when left to their own devices, maintain a clean environment for themselves. They roll in mud simply to stay cool. If allowed, pigs form close social and family bonds. They mate, remain together, and nurture their young just as a human family does.

Unfortunately for these animals, humans have decided that pig flesh should be available in nearly every grocery store…and this is the reason their life is a living hell.

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

On modern factory farms, breeding sows spend months of hideous confinement in narrow devices called gestation crates. Slated floors beneath their feet remove body wastes. The pigs never see sunlight and toxic fumes fill the air. Mother pigs are transferred to farrowing crates after giving birth. The crates prevent the mom and her babies from snuggling and interacting. Bars divide the mother from the offspring so that only nursing can take place. She is then impregnated again and returned to the gestation crate to do it all over again…and again…and again. Then farmers complain because they “bar-bite” and “become aggressive’. The truth is that they are literally going insane.

So what can rational, humane thinkers do to help the pigs? By joining Maryland Votes for Animals, we can band together to establish humane farming practices in our state. Gestation crates do exist in Maryland and a bill to outlaw them was introduced in The Maryland General Assembly several years ago. Too bad for the pigs that very vocal farmers and meat industry people showed up to defeat the bill. Who was speaking up for the pigs? There was no organized group at that time speaking up for Maryland animals. Now there is! It is called Maryland Votes for Animals!

Gestation Crates are only one step in the institutionalized torture of pigs in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

 

Veal Crates must be banned

Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers immediately after birth and raised so as to deliberately induce borderline anemia. Calves are then denied basic needs, including access to their mother's milk, access to pasture and exercise and often prohibited from any movement at all. by being crated.

Crated veal calves are normally confined inside 2-foot-wide enclosures for their entire lives. Usually chained by their necks to the front of the stall, these animals cannot even turn around, stretch their limbs, or lie down comfortably.

Mary Tyler Moore provides background on this cruel industrial farming practice in a video
produced by and used with permission of Farm Sanctuary.

Scientific research indicates that calves confined in crates experience "chronic stress" and require approximately five times more medication than calves living in more spacious conditions. It is not surprising, then, that veal is among the most likely meat to contain drug residues, which pose a threat to human consumers. Researchers also report that veal calves exhibit abnormal coping behaviors associated with frustration including head tossing and shaking, kicking, scratching, and stereotypical chewing behavior. Confined calves experience leg and joint disorders and an impaired ability to walk.

Veal Pens are only one step in the institutionalized torture of calves in factory farming. To do something about it in Maryland, join Maryland Votes For Animals.

Fooled by Foie Gras

I had a dear friend in college who was French, and I loved everything about her.  She was sophisticated and worldly; she had a great fashion sense, she traveled to Nice and Corsica for vacations and at age 20 she knew more about wine than I’ll ever know.  She introduced me to a “delicacy” known as foie gras.  It’s French, it’s served in upscale restaurants, it’s tasty.  What could be wrong?

Ducks are immobilized in cages without escape from the force feeding, living and dying in cruelty and pain.
Ducks are immobilized in cages without escape from the force feeding,
living and dying in cruelty and pain.

 

Little did I know what’s behind the production of foie gras.  Foie gras wears a veneer of sophistication and exclusivity, but it’s not at all what it seems.  Here’s what you need to know:


Fois gras is the diseased liver of a duck or goose that has been force fed with a 6-10” long tube put down his throat. 

 

In centuries past the poor animal had his feet nailed to the barn floor to prevent him from moving, so this has always been an unusually cruel food.  Today it’s just as bad because the force feeding is done with a machine and under the time constraints of modern production. 

Ducks become coated with blood and regurgitated food during the force  feeding process, becoming so ill and weak they cannot stand or lift  their heads.
Ducks become coated with blood and regurgitated food during the force feeding process, becoming so ill and weak they cannot stand or lift their heads.

A long tube is used to force food down the duck’s throat under high pressure, and this is done 2 to 3 times per day for 17- 30 days causing injury to the animal’s throat and extreme stress.  If you were to see the poor ducks, you’d see that they’re so fat they can barely move, and they’re covered in their own vomit.  They don’t look happy or healthy---because they’re not.  They spend their short lives suffering for a human “delicacy” and then they’re shipped to slaughter.


Several years ago when I first learned how foie gras is produced, I wrote and called some of the local upscale restaurants and politely asked them if they’d please stop serving foie gras.  Some of the proprietors angrily denied the cruelty, others were polite, even told me that they knew it was cruel, but said they had to serve it because their customers demanded it.

Ducks incur bloody, often fatal injuries from the force feeding, and  their bodies can be seen contorted in agony.
Ducks incur bloody, often fatal injuries from the force feeding, and
their bodies can be seen contorted in agony.

 

So what’s a conscientious person to do?  How do we end this cruelty? 

First, boycott restaurants that serve foie gras.  There are plenty of restaurants to choose from that don’t serve this barbaric food---and it’s actually outlawed in Takoma Park, Maryland. 


Then, please support  and join Maryland Votes For Animals so you’ll get our action alerts and know when a foie gras bill comes up again in the legislature. (It was introduced in the legislature a few years ago but it was defeated by the restaurants and producers of foie gras who showed up in mass at the hearing.)  Then contact your legislators and demand that they outlaw foie gras throughout Maryland.

 

For more infomatioin visit NoFoieGras.org.