A Project of Animal Place
September 5, 2001
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1. Hatcheries Hurting from Airlines's Decision
2. The Pig Welfare Debate
3. Pig Welfare: Production, Transport, Slaughter
4. Beef Exports
5. The Future of Cattle Cloning
6. PETA's Campaign Against Indian Leather Is Succeeding
1. HATCHERIES HURTING FROM AIRLINES'S DECISION
Northwest has joined other airlines, including United and American, in
refusing to transport baby birds as mail. The airline reports receiving
crushed packages and chicks sent in extreme cold or heat. Some 30% of the
day-old chicks transported in its cargo hold are dead on arrival. Northwest
offered to charge the cargo rate of 93 cents per pound instead of the 31
cents per pound mail rate to fly the birds. The airline claims this will
allow it to provide special attention, such as monitoring pressure and
temperature in the cargo hold. When the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) refused
the higher rate, Northwest announced it will stop carrying the chicks.
Millions of birds are mailed every year, and for some hatcheries Northwest
is the only viable option. UPS and Federal Express also refuse to ship
chicks, but the USPS allows it as long as the birds are in transit no
longer than 72 hours. The USPS cannot force the airline to mail the birds.
Northwest is also refusing to mail baby ostriches, ducklings, quail,
pigeons, bees, crickets or any of the other live creatures which the USPS
allows. Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) is threatening legislative action to
force airlines that carry mail to carry all mail if Northwest does not
reverse its decision.
"Northwest to stop transport of day-old chicks," The Detroit News, Joel J.
Smith, Sept. 5, 2001.
"The chick's no longer in the mail," Chicago Tribune, James P. Miller,
September 1, 2001.
2. THE PIG WELFARE DEBATE
In response to European and domestic developments, the U.S. pig industry is
challenging the basis for recent welfare initiatives. Chronic stress,
depression and neurotic coping behaviors, such as bar biting, are
attributed to the lack of environmental stimulation and behavioral
restrictions which pigs kept in stalls are subjected to. Defenders of the
stall system question the abnormality of such behaviors and dispute the
proposed Florida referendum to ban sow gestation crates. The industry is
also designing a welfare indexing system. The index is hoped to provide
producers with an objective system to measure the welfare of pigs in
various systems by evaluating production, behavior and physiological factors.
Michael Meredith, the director of the U.K.'s Pig Disease Information
Centre, applauds his government's "courageous, world-leading ban" on pig
stalls in an article about the "inextricably interwoven" connection between
animal and human health and welfare. Free trade regulations are, however,
undermining this progress by enabling the importation of cheap meat from
countries with lower welfare standards. Such standards mean lower
production costs since economies in housing and labor often outweigh the
costs of impaired health and performance. Meredith calls for improved
income, training and government support for U.K. pig farmers.
"Defending Farm Animal Care," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, August
"Gestation Crates: No Way to Treat a Pig, Impact Press, Robyn Thunderchild,
"Animal health/welfare - Human health/welfare inextricably interwoven," Pig
Disease Information Centre, Michael J. Meredith, 2001.
3. PIG WELFARE: PRODUCTION, TRANSPORT, SLAUGHTER
Paul Hemsworth, an Australian researcher, contends that the most limiting
factor in animal productivity and welfare is also the easiest one to
change: the human factor. Handling studies have shown that pigs are very
sensitive to tactile interactions with humans. Brief but regular negative
interactions with humans result in pigs having high levels of fear of
humans. Pigs handled by people with a positive attitude perform better.
Hemsworth advocates "cognitive-behavioural therapy" to change the attitudes
of workers towards pigs. To that end, he has developed ProHand, a
commercial multi-media training program. The program is said to have the
added benefit of reducing staff turnover and increasing job satisfaction.
The article lists the qualities of good pig handlers.
Transport and handling factors can significantly impact animal stress and
meat quality. To raise trucker awareness of this overlooked area the
National Pork Board is developing a Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA)
Program. Animal welfare and health/biosecurity measures will be included.
After training, truckers will take a test to become certified animal
haulers. The Board hopes to have a national workshop in September to
initiate the program.
To prevent meat quality problems, Canada's Lancombe Research Centre is
experimenting with infrared technology to evaluate the condition of pigs in
regard to preslaughter stressors, such as trucking and handling. A
significant correlation exists between the level of stress an animal is
experiencing and the energy radiating from the animal. Researchers hope to
be able to refine infrared thermography for use as a noninvasive method of
selecting pigs who need to rest and recover prior to being killed.
"Increased Welfare Leads to Increased Productivity," Pork News & Views,
Penny Lawlis, August 2001.
"Winning the Hearts of Consumers," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle,
August 15, 2001.
"Pre Slaughter Determination of Animal Stress and Pork Quality," Pork News
& Views, A.L. Schaefer et al., August 2001.
4. BEEF EXPORTS
Last year, 99% of the growth in beef demand came from outside of the U.S.
Beef exports were up 12% (in volume) last year, and up 245% since 1990.
Exports account for nearly 13% of U.S. beef production. The increase in
global demand is attributed to rising incomes, a growing middle class, a
decline in self-sufficiency, and export promotion efforts. Obstacles to
U.S. exports include food safety concerns, foreign competition and trade
regulations. Japan and Mexico are the largest foreign markets for U.S.
beef. Australia leads the U.S. in beef exports.
"Beyond U.S. Borders," Beef Magazine, Kindra Gordon, August 1, 2001.
5. THE FUTURE OF CATTLE CLONING
Advocates of cloning say it will revolutionize the multi-billion dollar
meat and dairy business. Clone International, the company with exclusive
license for the technology that produced Dolly the sheep, is anticipating
the first of a succession of cloned bull calves to be born in about a
month. A New Zealand company expects to produce about 5 elite Holstein
bulls for semen production every year to supply New Zealand and Australia.
The company sees great potential for exporting to China and India. It costs
about $100,000 to clone a bull compared to the $500,000 to $2 million price
for a conventional elite Holstein. Another company hopes to, in 5 years,
produce the first cloned horse. GeneEthics Network, a lobbying group
critical of cloning, is concerned with the consequential loss of genetic
diversity. A spokesperson also warns "These animals will be so valuable
that they will be feedlot animals, kept for breeding in confined spaces."
"Cloned Cattle Set to Revolutionize World Food," Reuters, Michael Byrnes,
August 24, 2001.
6. PETA'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST INDIAN LEATHER IS SUCCEEDING
Major retail chains are boycotting Indian leather in response to a PETA
campaign. Though India's strict animal laws make it hard to kill cows in
most states, PETA has documented that the laws are frequently violated.
Cows, buffaloes and calves are transported for days in overcrowded trucks
on their way to slaughter. The organization is demanding that the Indian
government better enforce basic animal protection laws. Blaming others, a
leather industry spokesperson explained, "The cattle are cruelly exploited
first by the farmer who sells them to the unscrupulous syndicate of
transport operators and butchers once the cows are of no use to him." The
industry has lobbied the government to create laws banning animal cruelty.
India is the world's 2nd largest producer of leather goods. The campaign
has cost the $2.5 billion industry an estimated $68 million so far.
"Peta 'skins' India's leather workers," BBC News, Sanjeev Srivastava,
August 23, 2001.
"Retailers boycott Indian leather goods," CNN World News, Shishir Joshi,
August 25, 2001.
"India Cattle Transport," Cows are Cool (PETA)