Go Vegan - for the Animals
Written by Animal Rights Advocates
Created Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Exploited for their Bodies
Outlined below are the practices that put meat, eggs and milk on the supermarket shelves.
These exploitative industries take away other animals' freedom by keeping the majority of them in close confinement to improve economic productivity. They then perform mutilations without anaesthetic to prevent anti-social behaviours caused by this close confinement. Treated as production units, female animals are constantly impregnated and have their babies separated from them. Bred to maximise muscle growth, milk or egg production, animals exploited on farms bear little resemblance to their wild and free-living ancestors. Suffering from physical abnormalities and disease, these sentient beings are treated as resources, forced to work for humans, with the product of their labour being their own bodies and secretions; their short lives brutally ended to produce unneccessary food for the sake of an acquired taste.
Check out our photo gallery to see the suffering caused by these industries. And don't just take our word for it; read the industries' codes of practice for yourself which outline 'best practice' exploitation.
In Australia over 6 million pigs are slaughtered for meat each year. More than 98% of these pigs are raised in intensive 'farms'.
The majority of female breeding pigs (sows) are kept inside sheds and continually pregnant – this is called the 'sow cycle' by the pig-flesh industry. For at least some of their 16-week pregnancy (and for 1/3 of sows their entire pregnancy) and for the birth of their babies, sows are confined to tiny metal stalls with concrete and slatted floors. The sows are unable to turn around and have no bedding to lie on – just bare concrete onto which the sow gives birth. The sow is denied any natural instinct to make a nest for her babies and is unable to interact or nurture them. The tiny piglets feed off the mother's teats through metal bars. After 3-4 weeks the babies are removed and the mother is impregnated so the sow cycle can begin again. When she no longer produces piglets at a profitable rate she will be sent to slaughter.
To ensure that the pig production line is as efficient as possible the piglets’ tails are cut off to reduce tail biting from stress, their eye teeth are clipped off and males are castrated. All are done with no anaesthetic and piglets can die from the shock.
Once piglets are weaned they are kept in sheds on concrete slatted floors where they are fed until they reach the desired weight for slaughter. This is typically around 26 weeks of age. The normal life span of a pig is around 10-15 years. At the slaughterhouse, they are either stunned with an electric stunner or gassed with carbon dioxide before their throats are slit. As the production line moves so fast pigs may have their throats cut while still conscious. They then travel down the line hanging from their hind legs to be put in a tank of scalding water to remove hair and grease from their skin.
Cows raised for their flesh in Australia are either kept in paddocks or feedlots.
Feedlots are becoming increasingly popular. In a feedlot the young cows are kept in intensive conditions in a fenced area with a high number of cattle and no access to grazing. The cattle are fed a special feed each day in order for them to gain weight as fast as possible. This diet is high in grains which cattle are not designed to eat. As a consequence cattle in feedlots often suffer from ‘bloat” where their stomachs swell from the fermenting grain and causes much pain. Cows may die from this condition. To try and prevent this from occurring antibiotics are added to the feed. In Australia it is also legal to administer growth hormones to cows in order to maximise weight gain. The European union has banned this practice.
Once they reach their desired weight the cows are transported to a slaughterhouse, often in hot and stressful conditions. They may go without food and water for up to 24 hours. Once at the slaughterhouse cows are run down a shute to the 'kill floor'. Each cow stands and waits to be stunned by having a bolt fired into their skull – often this wait is in full view of the 'kill floor' so that the cows can see the other cows which have just died. It is not uncommon for the stunner to not work properly and cows may have their throats slit when they are conscious. Australia also allows halal slaughterhouses to cut the throats of cows without any stunning beforehand.
In Australia around 488 million chickens are slaughtered for their flesh each year. Around 96% of these are raised in intensive broiler sheds which typically house 40,000 – 60,000 birds per shed.
Overcrowding is a significant problem and many birds die as they cannot reach food or water. The system used is an 'all in-all out' system so that birds are forced to live on their own excrement. Chickens that are reared for slaughter have been bred to gain weight unnaturally fast and many suffer leg deformities, as their legs are unable to support their large weight.
These chickens are typically slaughtered at 6-7 weeks of age after being transported to slaughterhouses where many die before arrival due to rough handling, stress, heat stroke, heart failure or haemorrhage from dislocated hip joints when they are caught roughly.
Once chickens arrive at the slaughterhouse they are hung up by their back legs onto a hooks attached to a conveyor belt. The chickens' heads are supposed to go through an electrified water bath before they have their throats slit however, many raise their heads above the water and thus are slaughtered fully conscious. As the conveyor belt moves so fast some chickens do not have their throats slit and proceed to be immersed in a boiling water bath to remove their feathers while they are still fully conscious. As their throats have not been cut they do not lose any blood and so have a swollen red appearance when they immerge from the water – know in the industry as a 'red chicken'.
If allowed to live naturally the normal life span of a chicken is around 6-10 years and can even reach 12 years.
Sheep born in Australia are exploited for their hair (wool) and for their flesh.
At around 6 weeks of age all lambs are 'marked' which involves a number of practices. As well as having an ear tag and vaccinations lambs also have their tails removed. This is most commonly done with the use of a hot knife where the tail is bent over the knife and the knife pulled through. No anaesthetic is used. Merino lambs in Australia are also muelsed – this involves the lamb being laid on their back in a 'muelsing cradle'. Two pieces of skin around the lamb’s bottom are then cut off with a pair of shears. Again no anaesthetic is used. This practice is done to prevent the lambs from becoming flystruck as merino sheep have lots of skin folds where flies can lay eggs. Due to consumer outrage at muelsing overseas the wool industry has been forced to agree to phase out muelsing for alternatives by 2010. Lambs which are reared for their flesh are allowed to grow to a specific weight, they are then sent to the slaughterhouse. Ewes and rams which are no longer profitable are also slaughtered well before the end of their natural lifespan. As with other slaughter practices sheep are required to be stunned, usually by an electric stunner, before having their throat slit (except in halal slaughterhouses where they may be slaughtered conscious). However, as with all production lines there are often mistakes and sheep may not be stunned properly before they are bled.
Many sheep in Australia are also shipped alive overseas (mostly to the Middle East) – this is known as 'live export'. Over the last 30 years more than 150 million sheep and cattle have been sent overseas and more than 2 million of these animals have died on the way. This is considered an ‘acceptable’ loss by the industry whose primary concern is profit. Once arriving at their destination sheep are often exposed to terrible cruelty such as being put in car boots fully conscious in areas where summer temperatures can reach 50°C. Sheep have their throats cut fully conscious thus suffering painful and prolonged deaths.
Most chickens that are exploited for their eggs in Australia are kept in cages for their entire short life - commonly called ‘battery cages’.
In these cages, which provide the hens a space less than the size of an A4 piece of paper, the hens may become dehydrated or immobilised. It is not uncommon for there to be decomposing corpses in cages with live birds. Hen’s feet will often grow into the wire they are forced to stand on. The stress of being confined to a cage causes hens to peck out their own feathers and at each other.
To try and prevent this, the ends of their beaks, which contain sensitive nerve endings, are cut off with a hot blade. No anaesthetic is used and the hen may be in pain for several weeks and have difficulty eating.
Caged hens also routinely suffer from brittle bones (osteoporosis) which allows them to break easily. Studies have shown that 1 in 6 caged hens have broken bones and 1 in 3 will have at least one broken bone by the time they are killed.
The lifespan of a hen used for commercial egg production is around 18 months after which she no longer produces enough eggs to make a profit. Male chicken are of no use to the egg industry as they do not lay eggs. Day old male chicks in hatcheries are killed by gassing, suffocation in huge plastic bags, or are crushed in industrial blenders.
- Listen to What's wrong with eating eggs since the chickens aren't killed to get her eggs? (8min42sec) - a podcast from Food for Thought
Like all other mammals, including humans, a cow must become pregnant in order to produce milk. Therefore, cows must have a calf each year in order for humans to take their milk.
In the milk industry calves are taken from their mothers within 12-24 hours of birth. Cows have a strong maternal instinct and when their calf is taken from them they will often cry out for days for their baby. Cows that are exploited for their milk have often been known to try and jump fences to find their baby, which can lead to serious lacerations of their udders when caught on the fence. Once their calves have been taken the cows are returned to the milking herd to produce milk for human consumption.
Modern cows in the milk industry have been bred to produce milk far beyond what they would require to feed a calf. Cows produce around 35-50 litres of milk a day, which is 10 times the amount needed for a calf. Due to the large amounts of milk cows must produce, they often suffer painful mastitis, ligament damage of the udder and lameness. Once a cow does not produce as much milk as required – often around 5-6 years of age, she will be slaughtered for second grade quality meat – often used in hamburgers and mince.Of the calves that are removed from their mothers, some females will be kept as herd replacements. Most male calves (around 1 million in Australia each year) are slaughtered for veal at around 5-6 days of age.
- Listen to Milk is a natural food, and cows naturally give milk, so what's wrong with drinking it? (12min00sec) - a podcast from Food for Thought
What about 'Free Range', 'Organic' or 'Humane' Meat, Eggs and Milk?
For any product to be mass produced whether it’s labeled ‘organic’, ‘free range’ or ‘humane’, the animals are still bred by the billions, separated from their family members, and eventually loaded into trucks and are brutally slaughtered.
Free range & organic animal products are highly profitable because industries can charge a lot more for the 'product', and consumers are willing to pay that price in order to feel guilt-free without changing their diet. This allows animal exploiters to put even more money back into advertising, which increases sales and ultimately increases the number of animals bred, abused, and killed.
Free range pigs, chickens and cattle killed for their flesh are still taken from their mothers, still forced to endure a terrifying trip to the slaughterhouse and, of course, violently murdered.
Cows exploited for 'organic' milk still must be impregnated, their babies stolen from them and either slaughtered or kept separately to replace their spent and slaughtered mothers.
Free range hens exploited for their eggs come from the same hatcheries as those confined in battery farms, all of the baby roosters are killed by suffocation or being ground up alive, the hens themselves endure the same bodily manipulations and mutilations, and they all ultimately end up at the same slaughterhouses when their ‘production’ declines.
- Check out HumaneMyth.org
- Listen to How humane are "humane" meat, dairy, and eggs? (14min39sec) - a podcast from Food for Thought
- Listen to Aren't free-range eggs better than eggs from battery-cage hens? (11min20sec) - a podcast from Food for Thought
This article originally appeared on the Animal Rights Advocates website. Animal Rights Advocates Inc. (ARA) is a volunteer-run not for profit animal rights organisation based in Perth, Western Australia that campaigns for the abolition of animal exploitation.
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