A Project of Animal Place
February 16, 2002
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1. Federal Legislation Affecting Farmed
2. Animal Handling Expert Calls for On-Farm Auditing
3. Poultry Industry Announces Reduction in Antibiotic Use
4. Problematic Antibiotics in Pigs
5. Inadequate and Problematic Poultry Vaccines
6. Ban on Forced Molting Sought in Illinois
7. Laying Hen Welfare Around the World
8. Farmed Animal Welfare Database Available
9. Upcoming Events
1. FEDERAL LEGISLATION AFFECTING FARMED ANIMALS
A number of important measures affecting farmed animals were passed as part
of the Senate Farm Bill on February 13th. An amendment addressing the
treatment of nonambulatory animals at stockyards, auctions and other
intermediate markets (see back issues #34, 35, 38, 40 and 46) passed, as did
the "Humane Slaughter Resolution," which calls on the USDA to enforce the
"Humane Slaughter Act" (see #18). An amendment banning the interstate
shipment of fighting birds (and dogs) and increasing the penalties for
animal fighting also passed and may largely quash cockfighting (see #20 &
21). An amendment barring the USDA from instituting the protections of the
Animal Welfare Act for birds, rats and mice also passed, overriding a recent
federal court order for the USDA to begin rulemaking for the inclusion of
these animals. Changes are still possible when a conference committee meets
to work out the differences between the House and Senate Farm Bills.
On February 15, Connie Morella (D-Md.) introduced the "American Horse
Slaughter Prevention Act" in the House. The bill seeks to ban the trade in
horsemeat and live horses for human consumption. Rep. Morella noted that
last year 55,000 horses were slaughtered in the U.S. for export and
thousands more were shipped live to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. The
slaughter and/or consumption of horsemeat is already prohibited in several
"Senate Farm Bill Passed," Humanelines, Issue 182, February 13, 2002.
"Amendment to Exempt Rats, Mice, Birds from AWA passes Senate," Top News,
Americans for Medical Progress, January 13, 2002.
"Groups Applaud Proposed Ban on Sale of Horsemeat," U.S. Newswire, February
2. ANIMAL HANDLING EXPERT CALLS FOR ON-FARM AUDITING
Dr. Temple Grandin, the internationally recognized expert on farmed animal
behavior, is calling for on-farm auditing to track and measure the way
animals are handled. Previously, she conducted USDA-commissioned
slaughterplant surveys. Dr. Grandin formulated an auditing system based on
objective measurements, such as the number of times electric prods are used
and the number of animal vocalizations. She estimates that effective
handling accounts for at least a third of the production equation.
"Animal Behavior Expert Calls for Stockmanship Audits," Farmscape, February
3. POULTRY INDUSTRY ANNOUNCES REDUCTION IN ANTIBIOTIC USE
For over 20 years, the poultry industry has adamantly defended its use of
antibiotics. Public health advocates contend that the routine use of these
drugs by industry cause bacteria to become resistant to them, making the
drugs ineffective for treating both birds and humans. Tyson Foods, Purdue
Farms and Foster Farms -which together produce a third of the chickens
consumed in the U.S.- have announced that they have voluntarily stopped
giving most or all antibiotics to healthy chickens over the past 3-4 years.
(It is estimated that of 26.6 million pounds of antibiotics used for animals
each year, only 2 million pounds are used to treat illness. [The rest is
used for growth promotion.])
The industry claims it is also phasing out the use of Baytril, an antibiotic
used to treat sick chickens, because it is related to Cipro, the drug used
to treat anthrax in humans. (Both are a class of antibiotics called
fluoroquinolones.) Corporate customers such as McDonald's, Wendy's and
Popeye's are refusing to buy chicken that has been treated with it. However,
because antibiotic use in animals does not have to be reported, there is no
way to document whether there has been a reduction in it. Additionally, sick
birds are treated by administering antibiotics to the entire flock which
often numbers over 30,000 birds.
The FDA gave the poultry industry permission to use fluoroquinolones in
1995, despite advise to the contrary from the Centers for Disease Control.
(It has been shown that bacteria in chickens treated with fluoroquinolones
quickly develop resistance to it.) Bacterial resistance in humans
subsequently rose from nearly zero to 18%. The public health community has
been calling for a ban on the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal
agriculture that are important for human medicine. Baytril was quickly
withdrawn from the market by Abbott Labs, but Bayer, the other manufacturer,
refuses to. Legislation to ban its use is planned in both the House and
"Poultry Industry Quietly Cuts Back on Antibiotic Use," The New York Times,
Marian Burros, February 10, 2002.
Keep Antibiotics Working Coalition
"Ciprofloxacin Resistance in Campylobacter Jejuni Evolves Rapidly in
Chickens Treated with Fluoroquinolones," Journal of Infectious Diseases,
Patrick F. McDermott et al., March 15, 2002.
4. PROBLEMATIC ANTIBIOTICS IN PIGS
Taiwanese researchers are adding to the call for an end to the use of
fluoroquinolones in farmed animals (see above item). Recently, they reported
that a type of fluoroquinolone-resistant Salmonella -the type most virulent
to humans- has been found to spread from pigs to people. The link between
human illness and the animals was revealed when Salmonella samples from pigs
and people showed the same genetic mutation.
"Study Traces Drug-Resistant Salmonella to Pigs," Reuters/Associated Press,
February 7, 2002.
"Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Spreads from Hogs to Humans," AgWeb News,
Darcy Maulsby, February 7, 2002.
"The Emergence in Taiwan of Fluoroquinolone Resistance in Salmonella
enterica Serotype Choleraesuis," The New England Journal of Medicine,"
Cheng-Hsun Chiu et al, February 7 2002
5. INADEQUATE AND PROBLEMATIC POULTRY VACCINES
Intestinal infections, such as Coccidiosis and Salmonellosis, are costly to
the poultry industry. Coccidiosis alone is estimated to cost the industry
$700 million a year. It is caused by a parasitic microorganism which
interferes with nutrient absorption and can damage the immune system. The
disease is increasingly prevalent in the worldwide poultry industry.
Confinement rearing has been identified as a contributing factor. Industry
spends more than $300 million annually on drug-based control measures. They
are increasingly becoming ineffective as coccidia rapidly mutates into
drug-resistant strains. A vaccine has been developed which uses a low dose
of the live parasite to stimulate immunity (live vaccine). It has been used
in millions of chickens, but is of limited effectiveness if the immune
system is already compromised by other infectious agents. Researchers are
continuing work on vaccines and are also looking into selectively breeding
and genetically engineering birds with enhanced immunity.
Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) is a poultry disease caused by a herpes
virus. Symptoms include tracheitis, conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and swelling
of the head. It has been found that the virus can also cause chronic
respiratory disease and leg problems. Flocks with the disease have a higher
condemnation rate at processing due to air sacculitis (lung infection) and
osteomyelitis (bone infection). It is suspected that the use of a live
vaccine administered to chickens used for egg production and breeding may
have caused the disease in chickens used for meat production. An expert on
ILT notes that vaccination is not the solution and urges that buildings that
have had infected flocks be cleaned and left empty for a longer time.
"Coccidiosis: This Poultry Disease's Impact is Anything but Paltry," Healthy
Animals, USDA/ARS, February 2002.
"4 Questions for Live Production: Is 'Silent' LT Hurting Performance?"
Poultry USA, Terrence O'Keefe, November 2002.
6. BAN ON FORCED MOLTING SOUGHT IN ILLINOIS
For reasons of animal welfare and food safety, an Illinois House Democrat
and Senate Republican have introduced bills to ban the forced molting of
egg-laying hens. Forced molting entails starving hens for about 2 weeks to
in order to increase egg production. Last year, the House bill was killed by
the Agriculture Committee. Citing public health concerns, Rep. Fitchey
is trying to get his bill reassigned to the House Consumer Protection
Committee, which he chairs. The Illinois Farm Bureau is a key opponent.
Denying the practice is cruel and downplaying health concerns, the Bureau
argues that the bill would disadvantage IL. egg producers. The nearly
identical companion bills include penalties of up to a year in jail and a
fine of up to $2,500.
"Legislators target chicken farms' egg production process," The Chicago
Tribune, Adam Kovac, February 14, 2002.
7. LAYING HEN WELFARE AROUND THE WORLD
Hen welfare was included in the reports of many countries at the
International Egg Commission's Annual Production and Marketing Conference.
Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands,
Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland all included animal welfare in their
remarks. Representatives of Chile, China, Estonia, Finland, India, Iran,
Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom did not. (It was, however,
noted that China has many specialty eggs on the market, and that egg sales
in Iran have suffered due to cholesterol concerns.) In addition to
production and economic statistics, the following points were included:
- AUSTRALIA: new egg labeling standards require the type of production
system to be denoted.
- AUSTRIA: 5 out of 9 provinces have banned cages. The forced replacement
of cage systems is expected to close many remaining egg operations.
- CANADA: animal activists are getting more air time and newspaper space.
- DENMARK: Denmark Ethical Council for Animals has concluded that bird
welfare in alternative systems is not satisfactory (no details provided).
- FRANCE: alternative egg production has continued to increase since 1993
and now amounts to 11% of the national flock. Sales volume and value of
free-range and organic eggs have increased substantially.
- GERMANY: a growing proportion of eggs are from alternative systems at
higher prices which has reduced the number of eggs purchased.
- NETHERLANDS: 20% of eggs are from deep litter systems. Parliament will
discuss A proposal to ban cages in 2012 this autumn. A prompt decision is
- SPAIN: the egg industry is beginning to contend with animal welfare
regulations. Egg production is expected to decrease with the proposed
introduction of new systems.
- SWEDEN: favors the new EU directive on laying hens. There is a wide
consensus that it is possible to change to enriched cages, and packers are
offering financial incentives for egg facilities to make the change.
- SWITZERLAND: animal welfare dominates industry thinking and discussions.
The national ban on cages has proven favorable to the industry but it was
cautioned that Switzerland cannot be considered an example for other countri
"A worldwide view of the egg business," Egg Industry, Terry Evans, November
8. FARMED ANIMAL WELFARE DATABASE AVAILABLE
A Canadian-based farmed animal welfare database is now available online. It
is divided into chapters covering housing, transport and handling of
poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep and horses. The database will be available
without charge through March 1st, after which there will be a $349
subscription fee. Chapter overviews will remain freely accessible. The
Prairie Swine Centre has been commissioned to compile and maintain the
database which is a joint project of industry, government, and the Ontario
SPCA. The Centre also features an environmental database. Both can be
accessed at: http://www.prairieswine.com
9. UPCOMING EVENTS
ANIMAL HANDLING AND STUNNING CONFERENCE: American Meat Institute, Kansas
City, Mo., February 21-22nd, (703) 841-2400, http://www.meatami.com (click
on "AMI Meetings").
FLY-IN FOR THE PIGS: Signature drive to ban the use of gestation crates for
pregnant pigs in Florida. For this ballot initiative to be included in the
November 2002 state election, 650,000 signatures must be gathered by June
30th. A "mini fly-in" is planned for March 9-10th in Palm Beach County. Farm
Sanctuary founder Gene Bauston will host the event which will include
activist training, weekend signature gathering at the "Juno Beach Art Fest
by the Sea," and a Saturday night "social-all." (607) 292-3030
THE COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS ACTION SYMPOSIUM is also happening in Florida,
February 22-24th, with a strong emphasis on farmed animal issues. Vegetarian
Events is organizing the Gainesville, Fl. event. (386) 454-4341.