A Project of Animal Place
April 29, 2002
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1. Temple Grandin Profiled on NPR (Today)
2. Illinois Bill Threatens Animal Facility Investigations
3. U.K. Chicken Exposť
4. German Cage Ban Considered
5. Calving Trouble
6. Upcoming Events: Animal Agriculture Summit; Chicken Conference
1. TEMPLE GRANDIN PROFILED ON NPR (TODAY)
National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" will air the 2nd
half of a report on farmed animal welfare standards today. This segment
profiles animal handling expert Temple Grandin. Information about her autism
is interspersed with information about her work to make slaughterplants less
inhumane. Dr. Grandin discovered that a lot of industry executives don't care
about the problems until they are forced to see them. She gives examples of
how bad practices had become normal. Notes Grandin: "One of the things
that's been difficult for a lot of people to understand has been that you can
use behavior to move your animal rather than force." Much of the
interview was conducted during her inspection of an Excel slaughterplant for
McDonald's. A McDonald's executive was present and would not allowed the
reporter to tape actual slaughter, explaining that "if listeners hear
cattle dying they might get upset at McDonald's." The full text and audio
version of the interview are available on the web site along with photographs
The transcript of the April 23rd online
discussion with Temple Grandin regarding pig handling and stunning can be
accessed at: http://www.meatami.com
(click on "Ask the Expert").
2. ILLINOIS BILL THREATENS ANIMAL FACILITY
The Illinois House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill which
would make it illegal for anyone to enter an animal facility, without the
owner's permission, to videotape or photograph. The bill is H.B. 5793, known
as the "Farm Animal and Agricultural Crop and Research Facilities
Protection Act." An editorial in the Peoria Journal Star notes "it
is prejudicial because it targets one side of an ongoing debate over
large-livestock farming." According to legislative analysis, the stated
need for the law is to protect the food supply from terrorists. The editorial
explains that not only will the bill not accomplish this but, as written, it
would prohibit state inspectors from documenting their investigations. The
Illinois Department of Agriculture reportedly has reservations about the bill
for this reason. The proposed law could also deter whistleblowers who are
legally at an animal facility or individuals filming from a public
right-of-way. The editorial concludes by urging the Senate to kill the bill.
3. U.K. CHICKEN EXPOS…
Undercover investigators in Scotland documented gross animal suffering at two
"broiler" chicken operations owned by Grampion Country Foods.
Grampion, the U.K.'s leading independent agri-food business, produces nearly a
third of the U.K.'s chickens. Advocates for Animals videotaped "birds we
believed were in chronic pain. Some were hobbling, stumbling around and
falling over, others barely able to walk...." A pile of dead birds lying
alongside living birds was also filmed. The tape is being distributed to all
major supermarket chains, with a message of concern about animal welfare and
food safety. The same organization recently publicized a rat-infested Scottish
pig farm (see back issue #62).
4. GERMAN CAGE BAN CONSIDERED
"Living on Earth, "a National Public Radio program, aired a story
recently on the debate over Germany's decision to ban battery cages by 2012.
The full text of "Happier Hens?," along with a few photographs, can
be accessed at: http://www.loe.org.
5. CALVING TROUBLE
The death rates of dairy cows within the first 2 weeks after calving have
doubled in the past 20 years, reports the USDA's National Animal Disease
Center in Ames, Iowa. Cows are also giving birth to more twins. These cows are
more prone to metabolic diseases. One researcher who studies this phenomenon
comments, "Cows carrying twins are put in a precarious metabolic
condition, and when they begin lactation, they fall apart."
The prevalence of twins is also increasing,
bringing with it higher neonatal calf mortality. Genetics, breed, season,
parity (number of previous offspring), ovulation rate and milk production are
all believed to be factors. Genetic selection has increased twinning rates
from 4% to 31% in an 11-year period. Higher milk production is also associated
with increased twinning. Male twins are more common than either female or
Some 10% of all heifer calves intended as
replacement animals in the dairy industry die within 2 months of birth
(including stillborns). Another 5-10% die prior to milking maturity. Roger
Cady, formerly an extension dairy specialist at WSU and the U of NH and now
with Monsanto, notes a loss rate of 15-20% from birth to calving is
unnecessarily high and would be intolerable in other farmed animal industries.
He explains, "Low replacement costs encourage high culling rates and
allow depressed birth rates and high calf and heifer losses to be economically
6. UPCOMING EVENTS: ANIMAL AGRICULTURE SUMMIT; CHICKEN CONFERENCE
ANIMAL AGRICULTURE SUMMIT: The Animal Agriculture Alliance will host
"Taking Care: The Animal Agriculture Summit" in Arlington, Va. on
May 9th. The event is only open to certain categories of individuals. Its
stated purpose is "to examine how America's animal agriculture can
advance animal care programs and speak with a common voice on the issue."
The brochure notes: "Your participation will ensure that you and your
organization are represented in the nationwide alliance to defend and advocate
for animal agriculture." All of the speakers are industry representatives
with the exception of a radio personality and two politicians.
CHICKEN CONFERENCE: Yale University's Program in Agrarian Studies is hosting
an international conference entitled "The Chicken: Its Biological,
Social, Cultural, and Industrial History from Neolithic Middens to McNuggets."
The event will be held May 17-19th in New Haven, CT. "Animal Welfare
Consequences of Industrialized Poultry Operations" is one of the 14 panel
discussions. Four plenary sessions will also be held, along with a breed
exhibition, a film festival, and art and literary events. Advocacy information
and book tables will be there and food, including chicken, will be available.
The event is free and open to the public but registration is requested.