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Posts Tagged ‘cows

On Mother’s Day, don’t forget animal moms

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By Jeff Mackey

If you’re like most people, you’ll no doubt treat your mom to brunch or dinner on Mother’s Day. But this year, while you are saluting your own mom, please honor all mothers by celebrating with a meal that doesn’t include meat, eggs or dairy products. Some of the best mothers in the world are found in the animal kingdom, yet few animal moms on today’s farms are ever allowed to nurture their babies as nature intended.

For mother cows and their calves, for example, it’s love at first sight. The first minutes after birth are spent developing a bond that will last a lifetime. Their attachment and affection for each other is so deep that both mother and baby become extremely distressed if they are forced apart. Mother cows bellow in vain and their calves wail inconsolably; they cry out for each other for days. Some mother cows have even been known to escape their enclosures and travel for miles searching for their babies.

Sadly, such pitiful scenes are common on dairy farms. Mother cows are allowed to bond with and care for their calves for only a few hours before the babies are torn away so that we can have the milk that was meant to nourish them. Wide-eyed and terrified, the calves are desperate to suckle but instead are given a bottle of milk “replacer” and a short life in a veal crate (for males) or a life just like that of their sad mothers (for females). Meanwhile, the mother cows will soon be impregnated again, only to endure the same heartbreak nine months later.

If allowed, mother hens would turn their eggs as many as five times an hour and cluck softly to the chicks inside, who chirp back from within their shells. Once hatched, the chicks are shielded from predators by their protective mother’s wings.

Yet 90 percent of our eggs come from hens who are treated like virtual laying machines. They are crammed together in wire cages where they never see the light of day and don’t even have enough room to spread a single wing. The stench of ammonia and feces hangs heavy in the air. Female chicks will follow their mothers into a lifetime of intensive confinement and constant egg production. Male chicks are worthless to the egg industry and will be tossed into trash bags to suffocate or thrown into high-speed grinders while they are still alive.

Pigs are also devoted mothers, who, if allowed, would spend days preparing a nest of leaves or straw before giving birth. Newborn piglets learn to run to their mother’s voice, and mother pigs “sing” to their young while nursing. The piglets would stay with their doting mothers for about 15 weeks.

On factory farms, however, most sows are confined to metal crates in which they are unable to lie down comfortably, much less turn around to nurse their piglets naturally. Many sows develop raw, painful sores from the bars.

The piglets are torn from their distraught mothers after just a few weeks—months before weaning would naturally occur—and spend their entire lives in extremely crowded pens on slabs of filthy concrete. The mother pigs are impregnated again and again until their bodies wear out and they are sent to slaughter.

As parents, we are compelled to love, shelter, feed, nurture and protect our children from harm. Why, then, do we ignore the very same innate needs in animals? Every time we pour milk on our cereal or fry up an egg, we are paying a farmer to tear a mother animal away from her beloved baby. This Mother’s Day, please remember that all mothers love their babies, and enjoy the day with a humane vegan meal.

Jeff Mackey is a blog writer for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

May 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Dairy farm abuses hard to swallow

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By Daphna Nachminovitch

A recent Washington Post article about safety concerns in the food industry revealed that the plants that process dairy products are inspected, on average, once every decade. You read that right: once every decade.

While the FDA, which regulates dairy plants, is under pressure to overhaul its inspection procedures, a new undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows that more oversight is also needed on the farms themselves.

A PETA investigator spent three months working at a New York dairy farm that supplies Agri-Mark, which makes Cabot and McCadam cheeses. Cows on this farm were jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. Young calves bellowed and thrashed as workers burned their horn buds—without providing any pain relief—in order to stop their horns from growing. Such atrocities should make any caring person think twice about buying cow’s milk and cheese.

PETA’s investigator documented one farm manager as he repeatedly electro-shocked a cow in the face. The same man also jabbed another cow, who was unable to stand, in the ribs with a screwdriver and used a skid steer to drag her 25 feet.

Supervisors failed to provide veterinary care or euthanasia to cows who were suffering from bloody vaginal prolapses. One boss said “we do nothing” for such cows, and indeed, the animals’ exposed, pus- and manure-covered tissue was left untreated for months. He added that when a cow’s “whole uterus comes out” during calving, farm workers simply push it back in and hope that the animal lives “long enough for the beef truck to come get her.”

Another manager, a layperson, laughingly admitted that he had plunged a long needle into “the wrong organ” of one cow when trying to penetrate her stomach. Twelve days later, evidently not having recovered and no longer useful to the dairy farm, the cow was loaded onto a truck and sent to a slaughterhouse.

Some of the abuses that we documented are standard practice in the dairy industry. For example, workers wrapped tight bands around calves’ tails in order to cause the tissue to die and fall off, a cruel procedure that results in acute and chronic pain. Workers used “guns” to artificially inseminate cows and injected cows with bovine growth hormone, or BGH, to increase their milk production. BGH contributes to an extremely painful udder infection called “mastitis,” and cows tested positive for it almost daily.

PETA is calling for appropriate disciplinary action—including termination—against all workers who abused or neglected animals at this farm. We’re also asking Agri-Mark to implement a number of new polices immediately, including phasing out all forms of dehorning, such as the burning of horn buds on calves’ heads, and banning the use of electric-shock devices.

These changes will eliminate some of the most egregious forms of cruelty to cows on Agri-Mark member farms. But they won’t eliminate all of them.

As long as consumers continue to purchase dairy products instead of healthier options such as almond milk and soy cheese, animals will continue to suffer. Mother cows will continue to watch helplessly as their calves—whom they carry for nine months, just like us—are torn away from them again and again, which is acutely distressing to both cow and calf. They will continue to go lame from intense confinement and filthy surroundings. And they will continue to be trucked to slaughter and ground up for burgers and dog food when their worn-out bodies are no longer of any use to farmers.

If you find such cruelty hard to swallow, the solution is simple: Dump dairy from your diet.

Daphna Nachminovitch is the vice president of cruelty investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510.

 

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

March 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Has your meat been molested?

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By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Every day, some of the most vulnerable females on Earth are confined against their will, denied the freedom to live as they please, sexually assaulted and even forcibly impregnated. As horrific as it sounds, we may be unwittingly funding and supporting this oppression—if we eat meat, eggs and dairy products.

PETA’s undercover investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses have documented time after time that, in addition to the routine cruelty that occurs in these nightmarish facilities, workers often take their issues out on the animals imprisoned there by violently beating them, screaming at them and sexually assaulting them—sometimes in the animals’ terrifying last moments.

At a Hormel supplier’s farm in Iowa, for example, a supervisor (who was later convicted of livestock abuse) rammed a cane into a pig’s vagina and boasted that he had thrust gate rods into the anuses of pigs who frustrated him. At the same facility, another worker, who was also later convicted of livestock abuse, urged PETA’s investigator to beat a pig as if she had scared away a “voluptuous little f—ing girl.” The employee was also caught on video urging a supervisor to beat pigs and to expose his genitals to get them to move.

PETA documented similar horrific abuse at West Virginia’s Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., which bills itself as the “world’s leading poultry breeding company.” A worker was indicted for cruelty to animals after being caught on video pinning a female turkey to the ground and pretending to rape her. When interviewed by police, he reportedly admitted that he’d done the same thing to dozens of other turkeys. Eventually, the worker was convicted of related acts.

At a Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas, a PETA investigator witnessed a worker repeatedly sticking his finger into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina). Another worker mimed the rape of a bird whose legs and head he had crammed into the metal shackle that would carry her to her death.

Even under “normal” circumstances, factory farms treat animals—especially females—as nothing more than meat, milk and egg machines. Pig factory farm workers confine boars to tiny carts and parade them in front of sows so that other workers can look at and touch sows’ genitals to determine the best time to insert a tube of pig semen into them.

On egg farms, four to 10 hens are shoved into wire “battery” cages that are no bigger than a filing cabinet drawer. The light in the sheds is constantly manipulated in order to maximize egg production, and periodically, for two weeks at a time, the hens’ calories are restricted to force their bodies into an extra laying cycle. After two years, “spent” hens are sent to slaughter, where many of them have their throats cut and are dumped into the scalding-hot water of feather-removal tanks while they are completely conscious.

On dairy farms, workers often forcibly restrain female cows so that an insemination instrument can be shoved into their vaginas. Cows are kept nearly constantly pregnant, and their calves are torn away from them within a day of birth so that the milk they produce for their babies can be used for humans instead. When their worn-out bodies are too spent to produce milk (usually decades short of their natural life span), they are sent to slaughter to be turned into cheap hamburger meat, soup or dog or cat food. Their female offspring replace them, and the cruel cycle continues.

The victims of this oppression may not look like us, but just like abused and exploited human women, they feel pain and fear, and they long for the freedom to live their lives as they choose. Those of us who want to end the exploitation of humans should also care about the exploitation of all beings—and do something to stop it. We can work toward a world that is more just and fair for females of all species simply by leaving meat, eggs and dairy products off our plates.

Lindsay Pollard-Post is a research specialist for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; http://www.PETA.org.

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

October 29, 2010 at 8:50 pm