Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

June 27, 2002                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Issue #74


CONTENTS



1. Cruel Conditions Documented at Another Egg Facility
2. UEP Lobbies Congress; Brainstorms on Spent Hen Uses
3. Deliberating Cages And Beak Cutting in the U.K.
4. Beef Checkoff Ruled Unconstitutional; Others Challenged
5. USDA Exempts Carbonated Milk For Sale in Schools
6. Animals to Determine Farm Design
7. Cattle Characteristics
8. Farmed Animal Care Resources
 
1. CRUEL CONDITIONS DOCUMENTED AT ANOTHER EGG FACILITY
Compassion Over Killing (COK), a D.C.-based animal rights organization, has released details of its latest investigation of a Maryland egg operation. In April and May, COK activists covertly visited County Fair Farms in Westminster, Md. Dead and dying hens were found in cages holding an average of 8 birds. Ten sick and injured hens were removed for rehabilitation and sanctuary. Details of the investigation, along with photos, footage and documents, can be viewed at: http://www.cok.net/campaigns/investigations/cff/  Last year, COK investigated ISE, another Md. egg operation. Efforts to get the state to charge ISE with anti-cruelty violations were unsuccessful (see issue #11). Investigations in Ohio and Minnesota have revealed similarly inhumane conditions (see issue #36).         
 
"Investigation Finds Cruelty the Norm in Egg Industry," press release, COK, June 26, 2002.
http://www.cok.net
 

2. UEP LOBBIES CONGRESS; BRAINSTORMS ON SPENT HEN USES
The United Egg Producers lobbied federal legislators during its Spring Legislative Meeting in May, requesting congressional action on several matters.
SPENT HENS: Congress was asked to immediately announce an additional $10 million "bonus" to  purchase spent hen meat; to fund $15 million of research over 3 years to find new uses for the hens, and to participate in a task force to identify and develop such uses.
NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM: Congress was requested to ask the USDA to withdraw the outdoor access provision for poultry in the National Organic Program. UEP maintains that outdoor access can subject the birds to disease.
The organization also made other requests regarding the funding and structure of research.
 
At the meeting, UEP further discussed what to do with spent hens. Amounting to well over a hundred million each year, the industry is trying to figure out what to do with these birds  who have little or no economic value. Possibilities included studying how to get the government to increase spent hen meat purchases, using the birds' bodies as a fuel source, composting the birds, and developing programs to use them as canned meat for humanitarian relief efforts. The staff was also directed to work with the American Egg Board to develop an "animal husbandry friendly seal" for use on packing materials, and to develop a list of biosecurity measures.
 
"UEP position papers presented to Congress," News, Poultry Times, June 24, 2002.
http://www.poultryandeggnews.com/poultrytimes/news/June2002/87525.html
 

3. DELIBERATING CAGES AND BEAK CUTTING IN THE U.K.
An EU Directive bans conventional battery cages in member states as of 2012. A public "consultation" was begun in the U.K. this week to determine if enriched cages should also be disallowed there in favor of cageless systems, as has been decided in Germany (see issue #60). Enriched cages have more space per hen, and a nest, perch and litter. A British egg industry council spokesperson said the industry does not believe enriched cages will improve bird welfare but that consumers' purchases do not reflect survey responses. In the U.K., about 70% of eggs are laid in cages though some supermarkets already refuse to stock them.
 
The EU Directive allows beak "trimming" to continue until 2010 due to feather pecking and other welfare problems. A U.K. government code of practice encourages beak "tipping" instead, which consists of removing the tip of the beak. The U.K. Animal Welfare Minister believes the practice can be eliminated altogether through improved management and breeding.  
 
The BBC has posted comments regarding the cage debate by the chief executive of the British Egg Industry Council and a spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming in a piece entitled "Head to head: The battery egg debate" at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/hi/english/uk/newsid_2065000/2065343.stm It contains a link to an article entitled "The chicken rescuer," about a man who puts former battery hens "out to pasture" at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1216000/1216870.stm
 
"Defra launches rules to ban cages for laying hens," Just-Food, June 25, 2002.
http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=50163&app=1
"Government floats plans to ban battery farming," Guardian Unlimited, June 25, 2002.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/animalrights/story/0,11917,743681.00.html
 

4. BEEF CHECKOFF RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL; OTHERS CHALLENGED
The National beef checkoff program has been ruled unconstitutional and in violation of ranchers' First Amendment rights. Checkoff collections will be halted as of July 15th. Checkoff programs charge producers fees based on the crops or animals they sell, with the money used to pay for marketing or research to benefit the industry. (Fees from the beef program amount to about $86 million a year.) Many small producers feel the fees primarily help large packers and processors, and resent paying for promotions that they don't consider to be in their interest. The lawsuit was brought by the Livestock Marketing Association, the Western Organization of Resource Councils and several ranchers against the USDA, the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board and Nebraska Cattlemen Inc. The Department of Justice represented the USDA and argued that checkoff-funded speech is government speech, and therefore not subject to the First Amendment. The USDA is now conferring with the Justice Department. An appeal is expected.
 
The pork and dairy checkoff programs are contending with similar challenges to their constitutionality. Fees from these programs support such promotions as "Beef: It's What's for Dinner," "Pork: The Other White Meat," and "Got Milk?" An article in Dairy Today details the uses of the $240 million collected from the dairy program each year. They includes school food-service training, nutritional education, marketing programs and milk vending machines; medical research involving dairy products; and the "Milk Mustache" mobile. A spokesperson for Dairy Marketing Inc. explains, "There are special-interest groups that are well-funded and want to discredit dairy. We feel the need to be proactive about dairy farming and dairy products and to be ready to respond."
 
The Farm Bill exempted organic producers from mandatory fees paid to checkoff programs.
 
"Federal judge strikes down $1-per-head nationwide beef checkoff," Key USDA reports on Friday, Washington Agenda, Jim Wiesemeyer, June 24, 2002.
http://www.agweb.com/news_show_news_article.asp?file=AgNewsArticle_20026231956_2211&articleid=88936&newscat=PWAS
"Pork Checkoff Case," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, June 15, 2002.
http://nationalhogfarmer.com/magazinearticle.asp?magazinearticleid=150487&magazineid=17&mode=print
"Dairy Today: Checkup For The Checkoff," Dairy Today Magazine, Paula Mohr, June 2002.
http://www.agweb.com/news_show_news_article.asp?articleID=88958&newscat=GN
 

5. USDA EXEMPTS CARBONATED MILK FOR SALE IN SCHOOLS
e-Moo, a dairy-based carbonated beverage, has received approval from the USDA as the first flavored, sweetened, carbonated products allowed to be sold in school cafeterias since 1991. e-Moo was developed with the assistance of Cornell University, Dairy Management Inc., and Mac Farms. A Mac Farms spokesperson had this to say about the USDA's exemption: "Now we can get e-Moo directly in front of the kids, which means providing them with a healthy beverage they actually think is cool. This is an important step towards expanding the acceptance of dairy beverages by youngsters who have tended in recent years to drink less nutritious beverages more often." Carbonation extends the product's shelf-life for up to 8 weeks. Soft drink giant Coca-Cola Co. is planning to test 2 new flavored dairy drinks in the U.S. this fall when millions of adolescents return to school.
 
"USA: e-MOO carbonated milk to be sold in schools," Just-Food, June 21, 2002.
http://just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=50109&app=1
"Coke to test new dairy drinks Observer," Reuters, Paul Simao, June 24, 2002.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020624/bs_nm/food_coke_dc_1&printer=1
 

6. ANIMALS TO DETERMINE FARM DESIGN
A 1,000 acre farm in England is providing more natural settings for farmed animals to see what conditions they prefer. Animal behaviorist and welfarist Professor Marian Dawkins is leading a team of Oxford University researchers in the long-term Food Animal Initiative study. Initial projects include simulating forest floors in pens to allow pigs to root, providing natural cover for cows to ease calving, and tracking sheep by satellite to study their feeding habits. Ten acres will recreate wilderness for 3,500 chickens to experience an environment more like the type known by their jungle ancestors. Sows will farrow in private groups of 3 or 4 without disruption from strangers. Privacy and a relaxed environment will eliminate tail docking since pigs bite each others' tails out of stress. The team will be working with British farmers for commercial applicability of the research, which is supported by the RSPCA and funded by McDonald's and Tesco (the U.K.'s leading grocery chain). The Initiative will also be used to increase awareness and understanding of farming technique among schoolchildren.
 
"Food Animal Initiative - Animals to design own farm," Oxford University News Release, June 20, 2002.
http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/po/020620.shtml
"Five-star comfort gives animals a better life, and a better taste," Times Online, Valerie Elliot, June 25, 2002.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-2-337292,00.html
Food Animal Initiative
http://www.faifarms.co.uk/
 

7. CATTLE CHARACTERISTICS
An article entitled "Think Like A Heifer," explains how caretakers can better work with calves by understanding how they view the world. The article urges gentle handling and includes a number of interesting facts about bovines. Bovines are herd animals and don't like to be separated from their herdmates. Calves can readily tell the difference between 2 situations, and will attempt to avoid the more stressful one. A calf's previous experiences will affect their reaction to future handling. Fearful memories may persist for months and increase the distance the calf attempts to keep between itself and a person.
 
Another article about cattle characteristics contains some of the same information in addition to other fascinating facts. Cattle can recognize more than 100 other individuals. They have panoramic vision and can detect scents more than 6 miles away. They also learn from each other's mistakes. For instance, if an individual is shocked by an electric fence, other members of the herd will avoid the fence. Only 30% of a herd confined by an electric fence will ever get shocked. Cattle enjoy swimming and are more active on moonlit nights. The lifespan of cattle averages 9-12 years. Cattle raised for meat are usually slaughtered at 15-20 months of age.
 
"Think Like A Heifer," Dairy Today, Meg Gaige, May 2002.
 
http://www.agweb.com/news_show_news_article.asp?articleID=88424&newscat=GN
"A Closer Look at Beef Cattle," The Humane Society of the United States, 2002.
http://www.hsus.org/ace/12773
 

8. FARMED ANIMAL CARE RESOURCES
The newly revised Swine Care Handbook is a 40-page, checkoff-funded resource covering pig husbandry and practices, environmental management, housing, feeding, and herd-health management. The introduction and preface particularly emphasize pig welfare, as does the book's "Pork Producer Code of Practice." The preface, written by Paul Thompson of Purdue University, notes: "Emerging trends in marketing and contracting constrain producers' flexibility and introduce powerful new actors into decision-making roles that affect animal health and well-being.....If producers undertake a new effort to provide assurance that animal interests are being taken into account in contemporary husbandry, they can be sure that people from outside will be watching carefully, even skeptically. What is more, such an undertaking will almost certainly meet opposition from people whose view of animal protection leaves no room for animal agriculture. At present, the broader public is caught between these extremes on the one hand, and on the other a farm community polarized by extreme views and reluctant to take any coordinated action at all." The Handbook can be accessed at (Note: pdf file): http://www.porkscience.org/documents/Other/swinecarehandbook.pdf  
 
"Designing Feeding Programs for Natural and Organic Pork Production" is the title of a new publication available from the University of Minnesota Extension Service. The 18-page bulletin includes information on standards for organic pig production and management, alternative feeds, and use of forage and pasture. To purchase a copy call the University's Distribution Center at 800-876-8636 and ask for item 07736-BU.
 
"Caring for Dairy Animals Reference Guide" is a 30- page references designed for consultants, veterinarians, and managers involved in caring for animals in the dairy industry. Sample information on topics covered in the Guide, such as abuse, attitudes, care expectations, euthanasia, and sick animals, can be viewed at: http://www.dqacenter.org/dcare/dcare00.htm The Guide can be purchased from the Dairy Quality Assurance (DQA) Center for $7.00 plus shipping. Other materials available from the Center can be found in its on-line catalog.