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Ok, time to use your imagination for a second. You’re born in a metal pen and separated from your mother within 24 hours. You never know who your father is, and you spend the next few months alone in a metal pen where you can’t move more than a few inches. You are fed genetically enhanced milk and corn and are injected with growth hormones weekly. Finally once you are considered ready, you are lifted into the back of a truck and brought to a facility where you can smell the blood of the ones before you. You are tied to your ankles and enter a conveyer belt. You are dragged through an electrical wave that the frequency is so weak that you are only semi-unconscious. Now paralyzed and still able to feel pain you are dragged towards a blade that slits your throat open. Now you just hang upside down and bleed to death. Quite a life, eh?
Sadly this is the average life for a new born cow in today’s big business farming industries. The treatment of animals on today’s factory farms is inhumane. 80% of the beef that you see in your grocery store has been processed that way. Thats over 35 million cattle per year! This disturbing statistic shows how the majority of the food we eat has been inhumanely brought to your dinner table. The truth is we need this food source to live, but does it have to to be done like this? The answer is no. These big name companies are going to have to give up some of their huge profit to create a more humane environment for their cattle. One logical answer is to scale down. With more but smaller cattle farms we could maintain the demand of beef in today’s society while making sure cattle live their lives as humanely as possible. With smaller herds cattle farms could let them free range in a field without hurting their profit.
A feedlot cattle’s diet is actually too rich for their own good. Cows are meant to be eating grass-based high fiber diets not corn-based vitamin rich diets. Their stomachs can’t handle this lack of fiber and this results in major metabolic disorders. The big name factories prefer to use corn because it is much cheaper and they can put whatever vitamins and hormones they want in it. Once again the answer is to have smaller farms were the cattle can free range and eat grass. Without having to buy corn the companies can save even more money and the cattle can enjoy the diet that nature meant for them to have.
Here is a 2001 article from the New York Times that explains the average slaughter house conditions.
The cattle were supposed to be dead before they got to Moreno. But too often they weren't.
They blink. They make noises, he said softly. The head moves, the eyes are wide and looking around. Still Moreno would cut. On bad days, he says, dozens of animals reached his station clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide puller. They die, said Moreno, piece by piece...
"In plants all over the United States, this happens on a daily basis," said Lester Friedlander, a veterinarian and formerly chief government inspector at a Pennsylvania hamburger plant. "I've seen it happen. And I've talked to other veterinarians. They feel it's out of control.” (Warrick, 2001).
This disturbing article represents how poor stunning of animals in the slaughterhouse causes an extremely inhumane death. Stunning is the process of either killing or knocking an animal out before slaughtering it. Proper stunning is necessary for the humane slaughtering of animals. The most common forms of stunning is either clubbing the animal (this is the most common but least reliable ways), throat slashing (this is a very inhumane form of stunning but it is very uncommon), and then there is stunning through and electrical field. When done with the correct amount of voltage this is the most humane way of stunning. Sadly most companies that use this technique use less voltage than required to save money. This means that some animals do not get knocked out before they are cut up and processed. My solution is to add another station along the assembly line after the stunning and before the slaughtering begins. At this station a trained professional will inspect the animal to make sure it is fully unconscious and is ready to be slaughtered. This position will be payed by an outside source so that the worker observing the animals will not be motivated to let unprepared animals on to the next station.
Ok, now let’s take a look at this story with my changes. Your born in a nice little stable on a farm. You spend the next few years with other cows grazing in the fields and drinking milk from your mother. Then after a nice life on a farm your are put to sleep and die a peaceful death. Thats quite a step up from the inhumane life before, eh?
“Factory Beef Production”. Factory Farming. 2006. Farm Sanctuary. June 1 2011. <http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/beef/>.
Warrick, Joby. “They Die, Piece by Piece”. The Washington Post. 2001. June 1 2011. <http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/beef/>