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Mindless Conformity: Factory Farming in Australia
By Lynda Stoner on Abolitionist-Online
Lynda Stoner has devoted her whole life to rescuing factory-farmed animals. Very few people in Australia share her knowledge and experience on the subject. The only really effective way to stop these practices is for the consumer to change the way he/she eats and to stop buying the end product of these gruesome industries. When you spend your weekly food budget you are in control. You are in control of a power far greater than you are ever aware of.
Modern farm animals as we know them have very little similarity to their predecessors of decades ago. They have even less similarity to picture books about farm animals and images shown by the media. The truth behind the meat and milking machines have become is savage, cruel and alarming for anyone concerned with their own health and that of their family. In Australia today more than at any time before millions of farm animals are subjected to greater cruelty on a daily basis.
We are bombarded with propaganda from the meat industry and the dairy industry predicting dire health consequences if we don’t consumer their products. With billion dollar turnovers it is within their interests to propagate deception and misinformation. It is in your interest to know the truth.
Our planet is suffering as a direct consequence of the meat industry. Our nations health is suffering and our animals are suffering. You can make a difference. You personally can help to alleviate the cruelty which is a direct consequence of modern husbandry practices. The more informed you are; the more people you can inform and turn the tide. Each of us who consumes meat, poultry and dairy products are directly responsible for the brutality inflicted on farm animals.
It isn’t something we can abdicate; it is our choice with each food purchase we make. The meat industry is no longer satisfied with farming a select unfortunate group of animals we have designated “food”. It is branching out into other species – indigenous species. Why not dog or cat? Really, what’s the difference? The animals we eat and the animals we pet share the same capacity for pain and suffering and pleasure.
Why have humans been selective in intolerance towards a designated few animals and shown total disregard for the exploitation of most others.
There is exploitation of a growing number of animals in Australia but I will focus on pigs, battery hens, broiler chickens, turkeys, feedlot cattle and dairy cattle as they are in numbers the most maltreated in this country. It is important to know that these animals are fed chemicals and antibiotics to counter stress, disease and as growth stimulants and some are fed hormones. Ingesting antibiotics from the consumption of meat products is causing alarming consequences for human health as we quickly build resistance to them.
Pigs are among the most intelligent of all the species. In a natural environment they are sociable, inquisitive, family oriented, clean and resourceful. They share the making of communal nesting sites. They have dunging areas away from group nesting areas. They enjoy swimming. They travel considerable distances exploring and foraging. They have fierce maternal instincts and sows are particularly active prior to furrowing. At that time they leave the group and find an isolated place to build a nest in which to give birth. Once the piglets are old enough she will return to the group with them. In stark contrast to this is the intensive farming of pigs. Pigs are denied all behavioural needs. They are crammed into concrete floored sheds, single sow stalls which means she cannot even turn around and she therefore cannot assess her piglets. Pigs are constantly hungry because they are fed slop. It is a 10 interruption in 24 hours of boredom and stress. Piglets have their eyeteeth cut and their tails cut off without anesthesia. This is to deter the results of stress and aggression caused by boredom and confinement. One of the greatest stresses of a sow is the inability to make a nest and her fierce desire for privacy when giving birth is denied. The mental pain caused by the intensive system to pigs results in stereotypical behaviour. They suffer physical pain due to lack of exercise and poor flooring including lameness, skin damage, foot rot and teat damage.
The European Union voted in 1999 to phase out the battery system of producing eggs. It has been banned in Sweden and Switzerland and it must be banned in Australia. There is a strong push to have this system phased out on the grounds of cruelty. While some of the worst examples of battery factories have been shown by the media it must be remembered that best practiced battery factories deny hens all their behavioural needs. A battery hen has less room to exist for the some 13 months before she is burnt out than an A4 piece of paper. Half of all chicks born are male and they are gassed to death for they have no economic value. Chicks are debeaked and this is a mutilation caused from stress and overcrowding. It is a procedure that causes ongoing pain. Part of the beak is removed using a hot blade and it is done without anesthesia. Battery hens are denied all their behavioural needs. They cannot walk. They cannot spread their wings. They cannot forage. They cannot dustbath. They cannot avoid an aggressive cagemate. Perhaps their most terrible frustration is not being able to build a nest and lay their eggs in private. Hens will fore-go food in preference to being able to build a nest. Battery hens suffer bone breakage caused by over-production of eggs and lack of exercise. Cooped up in constant frustration they suffer respiratory disease existing above their manure heaps which produce strong ammonia. Damage to their feet and legs are also caused by the wire flooring of the cages. When a battery hen is removed from the situation she rehabilitates very quickly. Her instincts lead her to dust bathing and nest building and scratching just as her ancestors did. To know this is to understand her on-going pain and stress in a battery factory.
These are meat chickens. They have been genetically selected for quick growth, pumped with antibiotics and are described by Professor John Webster at Bristol University as “the worst example of man’s inhumanity to animals.” He says of the broiler industry “It is a cruel mess. These birds are still babies when sent to slaughter. They retain the blue eyes of a chick and fluffy down. Selective breeding has ensured that a bird which once took 84 days to a normal standard weight now takes 42 days and a 35 day bird is being developed.” Basically what that means is putting the pressure of a 14-year-old child on the skeletal and cardio-muscular system and organs of an 8 year old. Their systems are too immature to function properly and as a result suffer acute heart attacks and terrible leg injuries. They are crammed at high density into sheds, living off their manure and suffering respiratory disease from high levels of ammonium. Workers are cautioned not to work in the sheds without protective breathing gear. Boiler chickens are kept hungry. Modern automated feeding and drinking equipment does not allow for those crippled and unable to assess supply. 20 million die before reaching the slaughterhouses.
Intelligent curious birds. In the wild they fly up to speeds 50 kms an hour. They roost in trees and roam. The modern turkey however is a genetic freak. More than a million turkeys are raised and slaughtered annually in Australia. They are raised intensively and are artificially fattened on concentrated protein foods. Like the broiler, turkeys never become adults. They have been genetically selected for quick growth and as a result of their bulk can no longer procreate. All modern turkeys are artificially inseminated. Their ungainly massive bulk places acute stress on their legs. It is difficult for them to walk. Like all intensive animals they are packed into close confinement unable to pursue their instincts, they are debeaked, they are hauled up to slaughter, hung upside down and shown no more consideration than a piece of machinery.
The image of a contented cow grazing in a paddock able to satisfy her maternal instincts is as far removed from reality as could possibly be. The sound of a cow having her calf taken away from her is haunting. She will bellow for days and seek her baby and this scenario happens to the dairy cow over and over. She is allowed a couple of days with her calf until the milk flow follows her colostrums. If the calf is male he will be slaughtered and his fourth stomach containing the rennet enzyme used to coagulate milk to turn it into cheese. Female calves are used to replenish the dairy herd. The calf is seen as competition for the profit of milk and must be removed from the supply. The modern dairy cow is a milk machine. She will be milked twice perhaps three times each days. For ten months she will be milked for 8-10 weeks before her next calf is due and then again as soon as her calf is removed. This intense cycle of pregnancy and hyper-lactation burns her out at about 5 years of age when she then will be sent to be turned into hamburgers or dogfood. Dietary control and genetic manipulation has lead to an unnatural and an enormous output of milk and a dairy cow has a high chance of developing a very painful condition called mastitis. Her udder become inflamed and abrased and iodine is applied to raw flesh to stop infection. Because of the strain of her huge and unnatural udder the natural confirmation of her legs is distorted. She has a high chance of developing foot disease. It is bizarre that we are the only species that continues to suckle after being weaned and we cause such suffering for that unnecessary product, a product designed for the nutritional needs of calves with 4 stomachs who double their weight in 47 days. It is not surprising that this product causes so many human diseases and far from preventing osteoporosis it actually contributes to it. Food high in protein, flesh, milk and eggs cause the body to lose calcium because the liver has to work so much harder to process excess protein and pass it through the kidneys which in turn work harder causing the loss of minerals like calcium.
Feed Lot Cattle
Cattle in the natural environment spend up to 12 hours a day grazing. They are ruminant creatures who need to roam seeking a variety of grasses. In ever increasing feed lots though cattle are forced onto unnatural diets often comprised of manure from broiler sheds ground up fish meal and sawdust vegetarian animals made to be carnivores giving mixed up offal are any of us really surprised when nature rebounds. Feedlot cattle are denied adequate exercise to facilitate the fattening process. They have no relief from heat, rain or cold. They suffer liver damage, acidosis, bloat and botulism. Lameness in feedlot cattle includes toe abscesses, hoof injury, foot rot, swollen joints, broken bones and muscle damage. They are fed hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease caused by confinement. Their skeletons are weakened due to lack of exercise. Australia has the capacity for over 1 million cattle in feedlots at any one time. They are always at least at 50% capacity. It takes at least 5000 years for a species to have instinctual needs bred out of them. All of these animals suffer ongoing pain because they cannot achieve their potential or any part of it. As Spike Milligan said “If a Robin Red Breast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage, how feels Heaven when, dies the billionth battery hen?” And of all of the millions and millions of animals abused, mutilated, damaged, distorted, genetically manipulated these meat and dairy machines are all individuals. Their suffering will continue until we as individuals stop contributing to it by purchasing unnecessary, damaging and environmentally devastating meat and dairy products. If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
Visit our image gallery to see how chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows are tortured and killed to provide food for humans.
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