Rogersville Monastery's Chicken Factory Farm
An Animal Rights Article from


Adam Huras on Telegraph-Journal

Following PETA's 2007 release of an investigation of Mepkin Abbey factory farm, the South Carolina monastery started growing mushrooms instead.

An animal rights organization is calling for a Rogersville monastery [New Brunswick] to shut down its farming operation, alleging its practices are inhumane to animals and contrary to Catholic beliefs.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) alleges that Our Lady of Calvary Abbey, a Trappist monastery, operates a factory farm that confines hundreds of thousands of chickens to massive sheds in deplorable conditions.

PETA vice-president Bruce Friedrich said the animal rights group was alerted by Catholic members in New Brunswick to investigate the operation.

"Sadly, the abbey is treating these animals in a way that would warrant cruelty charges if they were dogs or cats rather than chickens and cows," he said. "It's a denial of God to treat God's creatures with such complete apathy for their welfare - and that is what these monks are doing."

PETA objects to the standards of all factory farm chicken operations in Canada and has had success in targeting similar practices in another monastery south of the border.

Following PETA's 2007 release of an investigation of Mepkin Abbey factory farm, the South Carolina monastery started growing mushrooms instead.

"We urge members of the Our Lady of Calvary community to follow their brothers' example and switch to an income-generating industry that does not include the use of animals," Friedrich said. "Catholic catechism, the Bible and common sense all dictate that animals are granted compassion."

Monastery Abbot Bede Stockill replied to an email from the Telegraph-Journal on Wednesday, pointing to a page on the abbey's website about its farm practices.

"Please note that we follow all government and veterinary approved methods in our farming," he wrote, also mentioning the monastery was declared "Farm of the Year" in 2008 by the New Brunswick chapter of the National Farmers Union.

"Nothing has changed in our methods since then," Stockill said.

He declined to comment on whether the monastery is looking into alternative practices and did not grant a phone interview.

Jean Eudes Chiasson, president of the New Brunswick chapter of the National Farmers Union, supported the monks' animal husbandry.

"That farm has won awards and is certainly not any different than any other chicken farm in Atlantic Canada," he said. "I think the complaint is completely unfounded and that PETA chose to target them because of who they are.

"They " believe they can reach them through religion to make their point."

Chiasson said the monastery has modernized it practices with new barns and has converted from tie stalls to loose housing for its livestock. It operates a dairy farm and roughly 350 acres of pasture and crop fields, according to its website.

It also raises broilers, young chickens for roasting, and chicks until they are ready to lay eggs for another producer.

Roughly 240,000 broilers and about 60,000 chicks are also raised up to laying hen size each year. The farm also has 75 mature cows, 40 heifers and 15 calves.

Mature cows are housed in a free-stall barn year round and about 15 dry cows and 10 bred heifers have free access to pasture from June to October. Calves are housed in hutches until the age of two months.

Friedrich said PETA contacted the abbey directly in July about the farm operation.

"We had a very unsuccessful and frustrating exchange of emails," he said. "But the abbey continues to insist they are considering our request."

Friedrich admitted that the farm is within provincial and federal regulations, but that those standards are deplorable to anyone who witnesses them.

They are also contrary to Catholic beliefs.

"Anybody who spends 30 seconds thinking about it knows that chickens should not be crammed into sheds, who have been around excrement, unable to do anything that is natural to them," he said.

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