Every year, over eight billion cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, and goats are raised, transported and slaughtered under grossly cruel and inhumane conditions. The vast majority of these animals are reared in intense confinement operations, commonly referred to as “factory farms.” Cramped into cages and crates, or pressed together in overcrowded pens, these animals endure unbearable conditions in dark, windowless buildings.
Approximately one million day-old calves are chained by the neck and confined in crates measuring just two-feet wide. Confined calves experience crippling leg and joint disorders and exhibit abnormal coping behaviors, including head tossing, kicking and scratching. Veal calves are fed an all-liquid milk substitute purposely deficient in iron and fiber in order to produce borderline anemia, which leads to the pale-colored meat promoted by the veal industry. The all-liquid diet causes gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea, and the calves are frequently covered in excrement. At between 18 to 20 weeks of age, the calves are slaughtered and marketed as ‘white,’ ‘special-fed,’ ‘milk-fed,’ or ‘fancy’ veal
Nearly 300 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. are confined in battery cages – small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows in huge warehouses that typically house from 80,000 to 100,000 hens. Four to five hens are packed into a cage just 16-inches wide. As the hens constantly rub against the wire, they suffer severe feather loss and their bodies become covered with bruises and abrasions. At the end of their egg laying cycle, the hens are “force-molted” -denied food and water and kept in the dark for up to 18 days to shock them into another egg-laying cycle.
To produce pork, breeding sows spend their entire lives (up to three years) in barren metal “gestation” crates. Confinement is so severe, the pigs are unable to walk, turn around or even lie down comfortably. The pigs suffer from painful skin abcesses, hoof malformities, upper respiratory disease, and chronic stress. Gestation crates are considered so cruel, they have been banned in other countries. Recently, Florida became the first state in the U.S. to ban gestation crates.
TRANSPORT AND MARKETING
After production, animals are crammed into severely overcrowded trucks and shipped directly to slaughter or livestock marketing facilities. The animals suffer from stress, inadequate ventilation and trampling injuries. More than 250 hogs show up dead at packing plants every day (Lancaster Farming, 10/27/90).
Most state laws expressly exclude farm animals from the law, or law enforcement is unwilling to prosecute violations. The only federal law pertaining to transportation does not address overcrowding abuses and permits animals to be transported for up to 36 hours without food or water.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of animals collapse and are unable to get back up. It is so common that the meat and dairy industries have named these animals “downers.” Downed animals are sold for human consumption. Downed animals are usually left in alleyways or unloading docks without food or water until they are taken to slaughter, when they are dragged by chains or pushed with tractors or forklifts, causing abrasions, torn ligaments or broken bones. Downed animals that are no longer profitable are left to die slowly and painfully.
SLAUGHTER AND PROCESSING
Slaughterhouses use three methods to stun animals prior to slaughter, and all cause tremendous pain and suffering: 1.Captive stun guns, improperly placed or poorly maintained, result in severe pain from partial impact; 2. Cardiac arrest stunning causes painful heart attack symptoms and can induce paralyzed animals that feel everything; 3. Head-only stunning often results in animals regaining consciousness in the midst of their own death.
Stunning is not required for poultry, which comprise over 90% of animals designated for human consumption. Fully-conscious birds are hung upside down by their feet on metal shackles and carried on a conveyor belt to a knife-wielding factory worker.
I was responsible for trying to slit the throats of the chickens the machine missed on the nights I worked the killing room…It is physically impossible to catch them all. Therefore, they are scalded alive. When this happens, thechickens flop, scream, kick, and their eyeballs pop out of their heads. Then, they often come out the otherend with broken bones and disfigured and missing body parts because they’ve struggled so much in the tank.”
Sworn testimony from Virgil Butler, former employee at the Tyson Foods chicken plant at Grannis, Arkansas.