ANIMALS IN FACTORY FARMS
Although it can be difficult to read, it is important to know where your meat, dairy, and poultry products come from.
Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised on factory farms.
The following breakdown will take a look at life as an animal in a factory farm, and the laws that protect them.
Chickens and Turkeys
Each year in the US more than 7 billion chickens are killed for their meat, and over 400 million hens are used to lay eggs. Egg laying hens are bred to maximize egg output, and chickens used for food are bred to have large amounts of breast meat.
Over 90% of the hens used to lay eggs are kept in “battery cages.” These cages (which are illegal in Europe) commonly contain 5-10 birds. Each bird is given floor space smaller than a standard size piece of paper. These cages are stacked on top of each other in windowless sheds.
To prevent fighting in such close conditions the hen’s beaks are burned or sliced off without the use of anesthetic.
Factory farmed hens lay more than 250 eggs every year, more than double the amount of eggs a hen could lay 100 years ago. The stress of laying so many eggs greatly reduces the hen’s lifespan and causes injuries and illness.
The males that are born to hens are killed because there is no market for them (chickens used for meat are a different breed). Hundreds of millions of these male chicks are killed every year.
They are tossed into bags to suffocate, gassed, crushed, or ground up alive.
Chickens used for meat live in sheds that sometimes house more than 20,000 chickens.
The smell of ammonia from chicken waste in these sheds is overwhelming, and causes respiratory problems in many of the birds.
Bright lights are kept on constantly to stimulate overeating, and cause abnormally quick growth. The inability to sleep in such a bright environment causes stress and health problems.
Factory farmed chickens have been bred to grow breasts several times larger than normal. The extreme weight of the breasts can cause pain, weakness, breathing difficulties, and heart failure. Some cannot even stand and die because they are unable to reach food or water.Dead chickens remain in the shed until the rest are taken to slaughter.
Once at the slaughterhouse, the chickens are hung by their legs in shackles above a conveyor belt. A blade cuts their throats, and they are submerged in a tank of scalding water for feather removal.
Most of the chickens are fully conscience when their throats are cut, and many times the blade misses and the chickens are boiled alive.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), millions of birds per year are submerged in water upwards of 143° F while fully conscious.
300 million turkeys are bred for food each year in the US.
Turkeys are also bred to have abnormally large breasts; resulting in the inability to walk, breathe, or even mate.
The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act oversees the treatment and handling of animals killed for food in America but it does not protect birds.
Chickens are the most slaughtered animal in the US, yet they do not receive even the most basic protection.
During transport to the slaughterhouse, they are denied food and water and are exposed to extreme conditions. Powerful winds and freezing or hot temperatures kill many chickens during the journey.
100 million pigs are killed for food each year in the US.
Mother pigs spend almost all of their lives in gestation crates; too small to even turn around in.
They are repeatedly impregnated until they no longer produce offspring, and are then sent to slaughter.
When piglets are only a few weeks old, they are taken from their mothers and raised in over-crowded pens in windowless sheds. Just like chicken sheds, the ammonia levels from waste in pig sheds are dangerously high.
Stressed and bored, pigs will often bite off each others tails. To solve this problem, workers will cut off a pig’s tail without any painkillers. Male piglets are also castrated with no pain relief.
Unlike chickens, pigs are protected under federal law but the protection that they receive is minimal.
There are no laws protecting pigs on the farms where they are raised. There are a few guidelines regarding transportation.
At the slaughterhouse, pigs are legally required to be rendered insensible to pain before they are killed. These laws contain many loopholes and are highly unregulated.
Many undercover investigators have documented pigs to be fully conscience when they were dumped into scalding water to remove hair and soften skin.
While all animals are equally important to God, it is important to consider that pigs are smarter than a three-year-old human child and are highly social. This confinement and treatment is particularly hard on such intelligent and aware animals.
More than 42 million cows are used for the meat and dairy industries in the US every year.
Most cows have the luxury of being kept outside, however, these feedlots are far from pastoral hills. Dirt lots are packed with thousands of cows, and offer no shelter from extreme weather conditions.
Cows are branded, castrated, and their horns are burned or cut off; all without anesthetic.
They are fed a grain diet to fatten them up quickly, that causes pain and illness.
When the cow reaches the slaughter house, it is shot in the head with a bolt gun which is meant to render the animal unconscious. It is then hung upside-down by its leg, its throat is cut and it is then skinned and cut apart.
Despite federal law requiring that cows bleed out before being processed, countless investigations have found cows fully conscience when they were skinned and dismembered.
Dairy cows in the US do not have it much better. With unnatural diets and the use of growth hormones, today’s dairy cows produce 10 times more milk than they used to.
Dairy cows’ tails are cut off without painkillers, because it is thought to keep the udders cleaner.
The cows are kept indoors, and stand on hard surfaces in tiny stalls.
They must constantly be pregnant to be able to produce milk. When a dairy cow gives birth, its calf is almost immediately dragged away. This has been documented to be a very traumatic experience for the mother cows; many of them crying out for their calf days after they are taken away.
The female calves are taken to be used as the next generation of dairy cows, and the male calves are taken to become veal.
Veal is produced by keeping a young calf secluded in a veal crate, so small that the animal cannot stretch or turn around. The inability to move keeps the meat soft and tender. The calf is fed a milk substitute that is low in iron which causes anemia; turning the flesh the desired pale color.
Veal crates are illegal in the United Kingdom and all of Europe, but are still legal in the US.
ABUSE IN FACTORY FARMS
Only four companies produce 85% of all the beef in the United States: Tyson Foods, JBS, Cargill and Smithfield Foods.
Tyson Foods also owns a large percentage of the poultry and pork industries. The largest meat producer in the world, Tyson Foods sees annual sales in excess of $32 billion.
Tyson Foods is the main chicken supplier for KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell. Tyson is also a major meat supplier for almost every supermarket in America; including Wal-Mart and Costco.
As the biggest producer of meat and poultry in the US, Tyson Foods should be setting the industry standard for the treatment of farm animals. Unfortunately, Tyson Foods has been cited repeatedly for horrific cases of animal abuse.
The following are just a few examples of incidents that have been documented by undercover investigations at Tyson Foods facilities:
In 2013 an undercover investigation of a Tyson Foods pig farm in Oklahoma revealed appalling animal abuse. The following was documented by a Humane Society investigator:
Workers were caught on hidden camera violently kicking live piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles by their hind legs, and striking mother pigs with their fists.
In one case, a mother pig with a broken back leg endured a very heavy worker sitting and bouncing on top of her hindquarters as the pig screamed in pain.
The investigator also found pigs with untreated abscesses, mummified piglet corpses, and baby piglets that had fallen through floor slats to either hang to death, or drown in manure pits.
One dead pig was half-buried in grain from an automatic feeder. One dying pig, barely even able to move, was desperately trying to inch her way to water; the only hydration she received came as an act of mercy from an investigator.
Pregnant pigs at this facility were forced to spend most of their lives crammed into filthy metal gestation crates that are barely larger than their own bodies.
Undercover investigations by PETA of Tyson Foods chicken facilities revealed similar cruelty:
Workers violently threw birds at the conveyor shackles, sometimes from 4 to 6 feet away.
Workers were found urinating onto the conveyor belt that moves the birds to slaughter.
Chickens were beat against railings until their backs were broken. Birds were shackled by their necks instead of their ankles, and larger bird’s legs were broken to fit into the shackles. Some live birds were blown apart with dry-ice bombs. Birds were also intentionally thrown into the tank by workers and scalded to death.
A former Tyson worker claimed that he observed hundreds of fully conscience chickens enter the scalding water tanks every day.
When this happened, the birds would scream and kick and their eyeballs would pop out of their heads. When removed from the tank, many would be disfigured with broken bones and missing parts due to the violent struggle.
The treatment of cows at Tyson Foods facilities is no better:
Federal law states that a cow must bleed to death before it is skinned and dismembered. According to a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse worker in Washington, the cows are processed so quickly that many of them are still conscience when they are processed.
An affidavit stated that 10-30% of the cows at this facility were fully conscious when they were skinned upside-down and cut apart.
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