portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

animal rights | health

Meat: A victimless crime? Try the red pill.

Laying Hens: There are approximately 300 million egg laying hens in the U.S. confined in battery cages small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses. In accordance with the USDA's recommendation to give each hen four inches of 'feeder space,' hens are commonly packed four to a cage measuring just 16 inches wide. In this tiny space, the birds cannot stretch their wings or legs, and they cannot fulfill normal behavioral patterns or social needs.
Severe feather loss results  from constantly rubbing against wire cages.
Severe feather loss results from constantly rubbing against wire cages.
 http://www.bancruelfarms.org/meatrix/

Constantly rubbing against the wire cages, they suffer from severe feather loss, and their bodies are covered with bruises and abrasions.

In order to reduce injuries resulting from excessive pecking an aberrant behavior that occurs when the confined hens are bored and frustrated practically all laying hens have part of their beaks cut off. Debeaking is a painful procedure that involves cutting through bone, cartilage, and soft tissue.

Laying more than 250 eggs per year each, laying hens' bodies are severely taxed. They suffer from "fatty liver syndrome" when their liver cells, which work overtime to produce the fat and protein for egg yolks, accumulate extra fat. They also suffer from what the industry calls 'cage layer fatigue,' and many become 'egg bound' and die when their bodies are too weak to pass another egg.

Osteoporosis is another common ailment afflicting egg laying hens, whose bodies lose more calcium to form egg shells than they can assimilate from their diets. One industry journal, Feedstuffs, explains, "...the laying hen at peak eggshell cannot absorb enough calcium from her diet..." while another (Lancaster Farming) states, "... a hen will use a quantity of calcium for yearly egg production that is greater than her entire skeleton by 30-fold or more." Inadequate calcium contributes to broken bones, paralysis, and death.

After one year in egg production, the birds are classified as 'spent hens' and are sent off to slaughter. Their brittle, calcium-depleted bones often shatter during handling or at the slaughterhouse. They usually end up in soups, pot pies, or similar low-grade chicken meat products in which their bodies can be shredded to hide the bruises from consumers.

With a growing supply of broiler chickens keeping slaughterhouses busy, egg producers have had to find new ways to dispose of spent hens. One entrepreneur has developed the 'Jet-Pro' system to turn spent hens into animal feed. As described in Feedstuffs, "Company trucks would enter layer operations, pick up the birds, and grind them up, on site, in a portable grinder... it (the ground up hens) would go to Jet-Pro's new extruder-texturizer, the 'Pellet Pro.'"

In one notorious case of extraordinary cruelty at Ward Egg Ranch in February 2003 in San Diego County, California, more than 15,000 spent laying hens were tossed alive into a wood-chipping machine to dispose of them. Despite tremendous outcry from a horrified public, the district attorney declined to prosecute the owners of the egg farm, calling the use of a wood-chipper to kill hens a "common industry practice."

In some cases, especially if the cost of replacement hens is high, laying hens may be 'force molted' to extend their laying capacity. This process involves starving the hens for up to 18 days, keeping them in the dark, and denying them water to shock their bodies into another egg-laying cycle. Commonly, between 5 and 10% of birds die during the molt, and those who live may lose more than 25% of their body weight.

For every egg-laying hen confined in a battery cage, there is a male chick who was killed at the hatchery. Because egg-laying chicken breeds have been genetically selected exclusively for maximum egg production, they don't grow fast or large enough to be raised profitably for meat. Therefore, male chicks of egg-laying breeds are of no economic value, and they are literally discarded on the day they hatch usually by the cheapest, most convenient means available. Thrown into trash cans by the thousands, male chicks suffocate or are crushed under the weight of others.

Another common method of disposing of unwanted male chicks is grinding them up alive. This can result in unspeakable horrors, as described by one research scientist who observed that "even after twenty seconds, there were only partly damaged animals with whole skulls". In other words, fully conscious chicks were partially ground up and left to slowly and agonizingly die. Eyewitness accounts at commercial hatcheries indicate similar horrors of chicks being slowly dismembered by machinery blades en route to trash bins or manure spreaders.

 http://www.farmsanctuary.org/
Hypothetical question (please answer) 11.Nov.2003 10:00

Mike stepbystepfarm <a> mtdata.com

It is of course possible to raise egg laying chickens "open range", similarly with chickens raised for meat. Essnetially none of the abuses listed in the article above are NECESSARILY associated with the eating of eggs, of meat, etc. Therefor.......... (here comes the question)

Dear poster of the above piece --- IF the chickens were handled without any of the abuses you have so eloquently listed for us

1) You would have no objection to their being used for eggs or meat? (in otherwords, your article was a GENUINE complaint)

2) You would still object because using animals for meat is morally wrong regardless of whether they were unnecessarily mistreated in the process (I can respect that ethical position -- but wish to point out that if this is your position you should be HONEST about it and not pretend that your objections are related solely to the cruelty imposed by our economic systerm).

Sorry, but this is NOT a "moot point". You cannot argue that all the people reading your piece only have access to meat/eggs raised under the conditions you described. At least in this area, anybody who wished to do so COULD find "free range" eggs and meat for sale -- costs quite a bit more but IS available. And of course some of us could do our own.

We are what we eat. 11.Nov.2003 10:13

Jason

Well, that's okay. Those who partake of the astoundingly apalling products of "modern Agribusiness" (including sometimes myself) get no more love from the food than the love that was put into it. How nutricious could eggs or chicken produced in this manner possibly be? And how good can it possibly taste? Well, once youve had enough real food to know what real food tastes like, then you also realize just how bad most of the food in the supermarket is. The more of my diet is made up of real food, the healthier I feel, the less I get sick, and the clearer I can think.

Hybrid anchor cages are still murder for Eggheads 11.Nov.2003 10:22

Tom

the roaden egg cell cage supremacy is so belonged that farming issues are far outlined by any cell obituary in harm to sell eggs for a farmers income. The industry beside is backwarded for only female chicks convenient to raise the little shoa is murderous for little stiffons in arbituary law concilement being in harbor for pan cakes issueing.
Worlwide are similaries in chicks harboring siphiled on hybrid consumerism by human species on and off their special virtuary demolded anchor, benchmarked as a lot of muffons at custody.

Smash racism

eggs can easily be humane... factory eggs are indeed inhumane 11.Nov.2003 13:02

zero_sumog

I had the opportunity to visit family friends in Southern California, who had an entire small poultry farm in their backyard: a rooster, a dozen chickens and several geese. They were as happy a bunch of domestic fowl as I've seen... the hens produced an egg every day or two, and were free to roam within an outbuilding where their coops were located. They preferred to do their laying in their "coop" areas, as they felt most secure there... (secure from day-to-day chickenly intrigue and amorous advances, I'm sure...)

Based on my personal experience, I take exception to a statement from the above article: "Laying more than 250 eggs per year each, laying hens' bodies are severely taxed."
There's no doubt that laying 250 eggs/year taxes hens who are caged together and malnourished.
However, laying eggs is the natural way of female chickens. Hens who get a chance to run around and breath fresh air and stretch their legs and take part in a greater "chicken society" (such as may be) surely are not taxed by their egg-laying functions. Anybody who raises chickens knows that they lay when they feel like it, according to their health and state of mind. Keep them happy and well fed and they'll lay plenty of eggs.

Blanket statements like the sentence I quoted tend to provoke "bullshit detectors" in skeptical people who may read the article from a non-animal rights perspective, and turn them off to the basic truths expressed in the article.

BTW, Tom of the "Hybrid anchor cages" comment gets the prize for best use of the English vocabulary in a non-English communication. Indymedia needs more stream-of-consciousness comments... ;)

Inhumane to chickens? 11.Nov.2003 16:09

Ummah Goldman

They are just chickens!
Bird-brained!
What's next?
The suffering of oysters?

yeah 11.Nov.2003 16:50

iggi webmaster1@genfoods.net

zero_sumog is right...chickens lay eggs constantly whether or not they are abused.

the conditions are horrible, granted, but lay off the egg laying alright? that's a chicken's only pastime (besides clucking and being generally stupid).


more than just pain 12.Nov.2003 14:16

grace

i just also wanted to point out that it isn't all about the inhumanity to animals-- and while that is a major and important part of the debate against agri-animal production/consumption, it's also about what we as humans want to be responsible for in terms of domination, pain, and unneeded suffereing. I may be being too theoretical and heady here, but i feel that if we rely on the unsustainable practices of using the domination, pain and suffering of other animals, peoples, ecosystems etc, we as people will never be able to experience a genuinely loving, healthy or happy life. I just feel that the world is not centered around me, and so while i have the priviledge and ability to not participate in practices of domination and violence, i will continue to choose not to. and instead, do whatever i can to promote unity, unanthropocentric ideology, while at the same time work for the better life of all.

do some research 12.Nov.2003 21:29

x

Sorry, "free range" can still mean hundreds of chickens crammed into a tiny space, stepping over each other, not enough room to spread their wings. Sometimes the conditions may be more humane, sometimes it's just a marketing ploy. You'd have to research the individual farm. Even the "free range" ones are still generally de-beaked--the spaces are too small for them to live naturally. And, there is still the problem of what to do with male chicks.

I see people wanting to point the finger at the OP who is pointing out conditions on factory farms. But hey people, do some research into this issue instead of pointing at one person to allay any bad feelings you may have about eating animal products. If you eat "free range" or other eggs, figure out just what that means. You don't answer to me. You don't answer to OP and her ideas about humane practices. You answer to your own lazy conscience. If you have a question, ask it sincerely. If you don't get an answer, go research it. If you GET an answer, go research it and make sure it's right. Information is provided, but you have the right to go eat whatever tortured animal you feel like eating. And if you don't care about the suffering you cause, then that's your choice too.

speciesism sux and so does your hypocrisy 13.Nov.2003 22:14

vegangurl

Those chickens want to be alive and free just as much as you do. Stop killing off sentient beings just because they're weaker than you. If it were ok to kill others just because they were stupid, weak and we could, then there would be nothing to stop us from making mentally retarded people into hamburgers. Except for the fact that people are so self centered and arrogant as to think we are the only important or useful beings that ever existed. It's called speciesism, and it's a sad, superficial and baseless discrimination just like racism or sexism which you probably profess to fight against. Hypocrites. Having rights shouldn't depend on whether someone is smart or not. It obviously doesn't between people. Those chickens can also suffer emotionally, psychologically, and physically so stop acting like you're the center of the universe. And there is no such thing as HUMANE slaughter. It's an oxymoron. If someone killed a member of your family and said it was ok, because they did it humanely, would you buy that line of #^!*?

spewing ignorance 13.Nov.2003 22:16

vegangurl

also, saying that chickens are stupid and their pastime is only laying eggs and clucking shows how little you actually know about them. why don't you go do some research so you actually know what you're talking about.

evolution 14.Nov.2003 19:50

d. willow de'Godeeze

There are many people in our own country who are starving. It is very sad that people have to eat food that has been neglected and pumped out for cash profit due to greed. I spent most of my childhood very poor...at one point even homeless. The point here is that those of us who are aware enough to not be in "survival mode" need to pay attention to how we take care of ourselves. For instance, not eating food raised with poor consciousness. Our actions do make a difference---for truly, we are what we eat, and then some...
And thusly, we will have the energy to create positive change in our larger community. Ba-dump-bump-CHING!

Thank you for your diligence 12.Feb.2007 14:44

Praire Momma

Thank you for this excellent article exposing the unatural treatment of animals for our food production. What work and efforts are you putting forth to end the brutal and inhumane murder of innocent babies in the womb? Our hearts fill with sympathy when we see and hear about the cruel treatment given to our animal friends, but it is now time for us to rise to the defense of the unborn children who are left without any protection. I am eager and anxious to read any articules you have written about this subject.

Sincerly,
Praire Momma