Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

April 29, 2002                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Issue #65


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

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 and links.
The transcript of the April 23rd online discussion with Temple Grandin regarding pig handling and stunning can be accessed at: (click on "Ask the Expert").
"Killing them with Kindness," American Radio Works, Daniel Zwerdling, April 2002.  
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.  
"Why protect farm animals from being photographed?" The Peoria Star Journal, April 25, 2002.
Information about H.B. 5793 (including full text):

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). 
"Undercover Campaigners Expose Factory Chicken Suffering," Press Release, Advocates for Animals, April 22, 2002.

"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:

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 female-male twins.
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 feasible."
"Reproduction and Health: Death rates double," Dairy Today, March 2002.
"Double Trouble," Dairy Today, April 2002.
"Is the $1,100 Springer Gone Forever?" Agri-View Dairy, Jane Fyksen.

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.
"AMI, Others Co-Sponsor Animal Agriculture Summit in Arlington, VA.,"Inside AMI/This Week, The American Meat Institute, April 24, 2002.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance

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.    
Conference Site Home Page
"Yale University: Yale hosts conference on the natural and cultural history of the chicken," News, Meat and Poultry Online, April 23, 2002.{37F4AB04-56BE-11D6-A789-00D0B7694F32}&Bucket=Current+Headlines