"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Animal Welfare

People use the expression “out of sight, out of mind," to mean that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as soon as it is beyond our range of vision. It can be used in everyday conversation for quite trivial incidents. The problem is that whether we realize it or not, we often live our lives by the same principle, and some incidents may be far from trivial.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored,” said Aldous Huxley.
1 in every 30 Americans, that is 10 million people, back the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals and is America's “mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect.” That is all to the well and good, but this means that 29 out of every 30 or 290 million Americans may not care very much about animal cruelty. That is a huge number of people. Many farm animals are subjected to the most appalling cruel conditions in factory farms. Would those who love their own family pets be happy for them to be treated to the same kind of cruelty? By our inactions we appear to condone miserable birthing cages or farrowing crates for female pigs, where they are held for months and can hardly move let alone turn around or socialize with other pigs; we eat and apparently enjoy the French delicacy pate de foie gras which requires that ducks and geese are force-fed unnaturally large quantities of food through a metal tube that is shoved down their throats and into their stomachs two or three times each day. This barbaric treatment produces a liver that is fatty, diseased and ten times the normal size. It sounds disgusting and it is; goodness knows how those birds must suffer. We prefer not to know about the calves separated from their mothers within the first few days of birth and crammed into individual crates or stalls, tethered by their necks, so they can hardly move, for the duration of their dreadful short lives; and we ignore the plight of the 280 million laying hens in the United States which spend their lives cooped up in tiny cages with no more than the space of an A4 piece of paper that they can (hardly) call their own.
This is not only about cruelty to animals, although that is reason enough to do something to stop these dreadful practices. Organic humanely reared food is better for our health, and usually tastes a whole lot better as well. These factory farms are pushing family farms, farms that have practiced small-scale humane husbandry sometimes through generations, to the brink of bankruptcy. “Every new factory farm forces 10 family farmers out of business. With every small family farmer that has to leave the farm, communities lose access to fresh, healthy food and local economies are weakened.”And a sustainable environment is threatened with abnormal pollution patterns and disease.
It is true that very many organizations have signed up to a commitment to use only humane farm produce and through the efforts of organizations like the Humane Society the numbers increase daily. But America’s record on animal welfare does not compare well with that in Europe, where the entire European Union has already banned both veal crates and gestation crates, effective 2007 and 2013, respectively. As I write, in the United States the use of these abusive crates remains customary practice.

But here in the UK we are no saints in this regard. Those of us who care about the welfare of animals are currently hugely disturbed about plans for a mega dairy farm in Norfolk, where unless we do something to stop it, 8000 cows will be kept almost entirely indoors for their whole lives. As a dairy farmer's daughter, I watched every year the sheer unadulterated joy of the cows let out onto the new pastures each and every spring. They would run around, kicking their back legs in the air, sometimes even rolling in the grass, before getting down to serious grazing. And cows are meant to graze. Their stomachs are not designed to eat processed foods from buckets and troughs. And cows bred to produce unnatural milk yields often suffer appalling lameness, brought on by the massive and heavy udders, which themselves are prone to mastitis, a nasty inflammation of the udders which must be hugely uncomfortable for them. I could go on - but if I can only raise awareness so that you can read the facts for yourself, and reassess your own contribution to the welfare of animals, then I shall feel I have achieved something.

The animals in these photos are not of course cows, but alpacas, enjoying an English summer pasture. Will the day come when delightful beasts will be factory farmed for greater profit? I do sincerely hope not.

No comments:

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews