- 2nd December
- 10th June
- 10th June
- 5th June
- 18th May
- 18th May
- 3rd May
Comparison of animal welfare in both methods
The vast majority of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in battery cages. On average, each caged laying hen is afforded only 67 square inches of cage space—less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life. Unable even to spread their wings, caged laying hens are among the most intensively confined animals in agribusiness.
Caged hens also suffer from the denial of many natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dustbathing, all important for hen welfare. Numerous scientists and other experts [PDF] have spoken clearly about the animal welfare problems with battery cages. One such scientist, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Konrad Lorenz, said:
The worst torture to which a battery hen is exposed is the inability to retire somewhere for the laying act. For the person who knows something about animals it is truly heart-rending to watch how a chicken tries again and again to crawl beneath her fellow cagemates to search there in vain for cover.
Because of public opposition to battery cage confinement, many egg producers are switching to cage-free systems. These systems generally offer hens a significantly improved level of animal welfare than do battery cage systems, though the mere absence of cages sometime isn’t enough to ensure high welfare.
Unlike battery hens, cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests, vital natural behaviors denied to hens confined in cages. Most cage-free hens live in very large flocks that can consist of many thousands of hens who never go outside. The vast majority of cage-free hens live on farms that are 3rd-party audited by certification programs that mandate perching and dust-bathing areas. These advantages are very significant to the animals involved.
Dr. Michael Appleby, one of the world’s leading poultry welfare experts, writes:
Battery cages present inherent animal welfare problems, most notably by their small size and barren conditions. Hens are unable to engage in many of their natural behaviors and endure high levels of stress and frustration. Cage-free egg production, while not perfect, does not entail such inherent animal welfare disadvantages and is a very good step in the right direction for the egg industry.
Cage-free hens are spared several severe cruelties that are inherent to battery cage systems. But it would nevertheless be a mistake to consider cage-free facilities to necessarily be “cruelty-free.” Here are some of the more typical sources of animal suffering associated with both types of egg production:
- Both systems typically buy their hens from hatcheries that kill the male chicks upon hatching—more than 200 million each year in the United States alone.
- Both cage and cage-free hens have part of their beaks burned off, a painful mutilation.
- Both cage and cage-free hens are typically slaughtered at less than two years old, far less than half their normal lifespan. They are often transported long distances to slaughter plants with no food or water.
- While the vast majority of the battery and cage-free egg industry no longer uses starvation to force molt the birds, there are battery and cage-free producers alike who still use this practice.
So, while cage-free does not necessarily mean cruelty-free, cage-free hens generally have significantly better lives than those confined in battery cages. The ability to lay their eggs in nests, run and spread their wings are tangible benefits that shouldn’t be underestimated.
- 24th April
This is the time of the year when the wildlife behaves a bit recklessly, busy mating and preparing nests and such. Soon we will welcome all the new-born wildlife to our planet. These are not romantic, sentimental times: The roads are littered with dead animals.
I know that sometimes an animal will charge across the road so suddenly that an accident is unavoidable. However, watching other drivers and having been in a taxi, whose idiotic driver ran over a very frightened rabbit deliberately, I cannot help feeling that some drivers go out of their way to kill or injure wildlife. Some people enjoy cruelty and destruction.
Please, spare a thought for the wildlife, anticipate the unexpected and don’t be a killer. If you are not convinced, just look at the photograph to see what mayhem and suffering we cause by being inconsiderate, nasty or stupid.
Click on the photograph to see it bigger.
- 13th April
- 9th April
- 9th April
- 19th March
- 18th March
In late 2011 and early 2012, PETA conducted an undercover investigation at Adirondack Farms, LLC, a dairy factory farm that takes 180,000 pounds of milk—intended for their calves—from approximately 1,800 cows every day in Clinton County, New York. Adirondack Farms sends that milk to Massachusetts-based Agri-Mark, Inc., the self-proclaimed “largest supplier of farm fresh milk in New England.” Agri-Mark makes Cabot and McCadam cheeses and had $900 million in 2011 sales.
During the course of the investigation, PETA’s investigator found that workers routinely jabbed and struck cows with a pole and cane—on the face, udder, and hindquarters—when leading them into a room to be milked. When PETA’s investigator brought these abuses to the attention of a farm manager, the manager admitted that the workers “get carried away with” striking cows.
This same manager—who failed to stop the abuse—was caught on video by PETA’s investigator electro-shocking a cow in the face repeatedly. He also jabbed a fully conscious downed cow, whom he called a “dumb bitch,” in the ribs with a screwdriver and used a small vehicle to drag her approximately 25 feet.
Some cows with bloody vaginal prolapses that became covered with pus and manure were left to suffer, untreated, for almost three months. A manager told PETA’s investigator that the farm did nothing for cows in this condition.
There was no shortage of animal suffering as a result of the dairy industry’s cruel standard procedures. With no pain relief whatsoever, calves’ horn buds were burned off so as to stop their horns from growing. PETA’s undercover footage shows one of the millions of young calves who undergo this mutilation every year in the U.S. as she thrashes about in agony, smoke rising from her seared flesh. Workers used “guillotine cutters” to “lop off” the horns of older animals—again without anesthetics or pain relief. PETA’s undercover investigator also recorded a manager as he put his arm deep inside a cow’s rectum to “rake” feces out before artificially inseminating her with a “gun,” another standard practice on dairy factory farms.
In order to make milking easier, calves’ tails were docked by tightly binding them with elastic bands. This causes the skin and tissue to rot and die, eventually sloughing off. Not having a tail deprives animals of the fundamental ability to swat away flies and causes them acute and chronic pain.
To increase milk production, workers injected cows every two weeks with bovine somatotropin (BST, a.k.a., bovine growth hormone, or BGH), which contributes to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder for which cows tested positive virtually daily at the farm. And as at every dairy farm, calves were torn away from their mothers—who are known for their maternal instincts and whose pregnancies last for nine months, just like human pregnancies—almost immediately after birth, causing both mother and calf extreme distress.
PETA has notified Adirondack Farms’ owners of the behavior of the managers and workers responsible for the abuse and neglect and asked that they take appropriate disciplinary action—including termination—as well as notifying all managers and employees that no form of cruelty will be tolerated.
However, we need your help now to ensure that this cruelty is stopped at all Agri-Mark member farms!
Please send a quick e-mail to Agri-Mark CEO Dr. Richard Stammer and politely urge him to implement PETA’s recommendations immediately to help end the most egregious abuses of cows on cooperative members’ farms and to improve the animals’ welfare.
Also, please remember that the best way to end the suffering of calves and cows in the dairy industry is to go vegan now.
- 12th March