An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org



The total number of mammals and birds raised and killed for food in the U.S. this year is expected to exceed 10 billion for the first time in U.S. history, according to extrapolation of data from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). This is a 0.7% increase over the 2002 figure of 9,997 million. The number of fishes and other aquatic organisms killed for human and animal food is not reported and is likely to exceed that number.

The 2003 total of 10,064 million includes 41.2 million cattle and calves (up 0.5% from 2002), 133 million pigs (up 13%), 4.1 million sheep (unchanged), 291 million turkeys (down 5.2%), and 25.5 million ducks (unchanged), 9,144 million "broilers" (up 0.7%) and 425 million laying hens (up 0.2%).

The 10 billion total reflects both the 847 million animals reported by the NASS as slaughtered in 2002 and another 847 million, or 8.5% of the total, who suffered lingering deaths from disease, malnutrition, injury, suffocation, stress, extermination, or other deadly factory farming practices, and never reached the slaughterhouse. Some of these "other" deaths were reported by the NASS, but most had to be derived from secondary sources, such as hatchery reports and interviews with agricultural experts. Examples of deaths not reported include broiler chickens and turkeys who die before they are placed in a farm, male chicks suffocated at birth, discarded layer hens, and piglets who die before weaning.

Farmed animals literally never "have a nice day." From birth, they are caged, crowded, deprived, drugged, mutilated, and smothered on today’s factory farms. Even slaughter may not end their agony. Recent documentaries have shown animals skinned, dismembered, and gutted in U.S. slaughterhouses while still conscious. USDA has never enforced the 1958 and 1978 federal Humane Slaughter Acts.

In more personal terms, during a 77-year lifetime, a typical U.S. resident is responsible for the suffering and death of 11 cows, 32 pigs and sheep, and 2,660 turkeys, chickens and ducks, and uncounted numbers of fish and other aquatic animals – enough to populate a family farm.

Moreover, the 10,063 million animals raised and killed for food account for 98% of all animals abused and killed annually in the U.S. Another 130 million animals are killed for "sport," 60 million are used in biomedical research and testing, and 5 million are put down in pounds.

The worldwide number of animals killed for food in 2002 was 51.2 billion, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This included 305 million cattle, buffalo, and calves, 1.2 billion pigs, 813 million sheep and goats, and 49 billion chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. These figures exclude non-slaughter deaths, generally not reported, and deaths in small countries that do not report at all.

The report on the number of victims of animal agriculture is compiled each year by FARM, a public interest organization, in connection with the annual observance of World Farm Animals Day on October 2 (Gandhi's birthday). World Farm Animals Day memorializes the suffering and deaths of innocent sentient animals in the world’s factory farms and slaughterhouses and promotes humane, sustainable agriculture.

This year’s 20th anniversary observance brings factory farm and slaughterhouse atrocities to the American consumer. Activists in hundreds of communities in all 50 states and 20 other countries are arranging public screenings of graphic video tapes, information tables, exhibits, leafleting, marches, vigils, memorial services, and mourning festivals. Hundreds of giant billboards and bus display cards in nine major metropolitan areas will carry the message to millions. A number of governors and mayors are issuing supportive proclamations. PETA and In Defense of Animals are co-sponsoring the observance.

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