In just one hour in the US, more than 1 million animals are killed for food. Before their slaughter, they endure a life of abuse. Considering that nearly 10 billion animals each year are treated as production units rather than social, intelligent animals, this is the gravest animal welfare problem in the country.
The Humane Society of the United States has identified the six worst animal practices in agribusiness:
1. Battery Cages
In the US, 95% of egg-laying hens are confined to battery cages: small wire enclosures stacked several tiers high, extending down long rows, inside windowless warehouses. These cages offer less space per hen than the area of a single piece of paper. The birds are so cramped that they are unable to spread their wings. While many countries are banning these abusive battery cages, the US still overcrowds 300 million hens in these cruel enclosures.
2. Fast Growth of Birds
More than 9 out of 10 land animals killed for human consumption in the US are chickens. About 9 billion are slaughtered each year. The chicken industry’s use of growth-promoting antibiotics has produced birds whose bodies struggle to function and are on the verge of structural collapse. (To put their growth rate into perspective, the University of Arkansas reports that if humans grew as fast as today’s chickens, we’d weigh 349 pounds by our second birthday.) Ninety percent of chickens have detectable leg problems and structural deformities. More than 25% suffer from chronic pain due to bone disease.
3. Forced Feeding for Foie Gras
French for “fatty liver,” the delicacy known as pate de foie gras is produced from the grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose. Two to three times a day for several weeks, the birds are force-fed enormous quantities of food through a long pipe thrust down their throats to their stomachs. This deliberate overfeeding causes the birds’ livers to swell to as much as ten times their normal size. This impairs liver function, expands their abdomens, and makes movements as simple as standing or walking difficult and painful. Several European countries have banned the force-feeding of birds for foie gras.
4. Gestation Crates and Veal Crates
During their 4-month pregnancies, 60-70% of female pigs in the US are kept in gestation crates: individual metal stalls so small and narrow that the animals can’t even turn around or move more than one step forward or backward. Similarly, calves raised for veal are confined in restrictive crates, generally chained by the neck, that prohibit them from turning around. This takes an enormous mental and physical toll on the animals. Both of these practices are being phased out in the EU because of their abusive, inhumane nature, but they are still in use in the US.
5. Long-Distance Transport
Billions of animals endure the rigors of transport around the country. Overcrowded onto trucks that do not provide any protection from very hot and very cold weather, animals travel days without food, water, or rest. The conditions are so stressful that in-transit death is considered common.
6. Electric Stunning of Birds
At the slaughter plant, birds are moved off trucks, dumped from transport crates onto conveyors, and hung upside down by their legs in shackles. Their heads pass though electrified baths of water, intended to immobilize them before their throats are slit. From beginning to end, the entire process is filled with pain & suffering. Federal regulations do not require that birds be rendered insensible before they are slaughtered. The shackling of their legs causes pain, increased in those already suffering from leg disorders (see #2) or broken bones. Electric stunning has been found to be ineffective in consistently inducing unconsciousness.
You Can Help
Don’t support the cruelties endured by these animals.
-Refine your diet by eliminating the most abusive animal products.
-Reduce your consumption of animal products
-Replace animal products in your diet with vegetarian options
-Only consume animal products that are locally and humanely raised (try your local farmers’ market)
Breakfast: English muffin with jelly
Lunch: Veggie sub from Quizno’s
Dinner: Cheeseless pizza loaded with spinach, mushrooms, onion, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and garlic