Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

January 8, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #1 Volume 2



TODAY: "All Things Considered" (National Public Radio) will be considering video auctions: "For ranchers, cattle auctions are fun, but they're also work. In this e-business era, the work is getting a bit easier, as auctions become available from the comfort of a rancher's home. Hear how the Internet is making cattle-buying more like a video game." For local stations and air times, visit: http://www.npr.org/members/ The program can be heard online after 9 p.m. EST at: http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/index.html
 

CONTENTS
 
1. PETA Begins KFC Boycott
2. Temple Grandin Blasts Egg Industry
3. Egg Industry Devoted to Animal Welfare
4. Egg Industry Discusses "Animal Welfare Assault"
5. Cattlemen Drafting Welfare Guidelines
6. Grandin on Welfare Auditing
7. Animal Welfare Auditing Services
8. Cattle Management & Reproduction Courses
9. Beef Magazine Information Services
 

1. PETA BEGINS KFC BOYCOTT
After 18 months of negotiations, PETA has initiated a boycott of KFC in an effort to get the company to require certain welfare standards of its chicken suppliers. The organization has succeeded in similar campaigns against McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Safeway (see issues #16, 28 and 69). Among the standards PETA is seeking are the breeding of healthier and less aggressive birds, enrichment of their living environment, automated catching, and gas killing. KFC dismisses PETA's standards as being impractical and unscientific. It points to guidelines developed by its Animal Welfare Advisory Council, and to unannounced inspections being conducted to ensure compliance. PETA doubts the existence of the guidelines and charges that if they do exist they do not cover production, don't effectively cover slaughter, and questions their enforcement.
 
KFC's web site addresses PETA's complaints and has pages devoted to its animal welfare program: http://www.kfc.com/about/pr/010703.htm  PETA has a web site devoted to the campaign in which it counters KFC's assertions: http://www.kfccruelty.com (The PETA site also contains video footage. A "virtual tour" of the California poultry industry is being offered by the California Poultry Federation at: http://www.cpif.org/Virtual%20Tour/cpfvr.html ) In a New York Times article, Dr. Ian Duncan, a member of KFC's welfare council, states: "I've been doing research into chicken welfare since 1965 and change has been slow, very slow....PETA is very extreme and they exaggerate, but maybe that's what it takes. I used to be very much against them, but I can see they are getting things done." The article notes that the campaign comes during a time of other societal challenges to fast-food chains.
           
"Animal Fans' Secret Recipe is to Boycott Restaurant," The New York Times, Elizabeth Becker, January 6, 2003.
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/06/national/06CHIC.html
 

2. TEMPLE GRANDIN BLASTS EGG INDUSTRY
Dr. Temple Grandin, "the North American guru on livestock behaviour," strongly criticized the egg industry at the Alberta Farm Animal Care conference, held in late November. As an animal behavior/handling researcher and consultant, she has toured thousands of farmed animal facilities in her 30-year career and said, "I'm very upset with what I saw in the hen house." Grandin said that what she has seen in some poultry buildings is worse than any large animal slaughterplant she has toured. She told of chickens crammed in cages and missing half of their feathers, and of live chicks thrown into a dumpster. "It's a case of bad becoming normal," she explained. The article gives various space standards for laying hens. Grandin warns, "We've got to get things to a minimum decent standard. This has got to change. This is absolutely awful." (See also issue #90.)  Additional information about the poultry industry can be found in the "What Would the Public Think" and "Minimum Decent Standards" sections of Dr. Grandin's web site: http://www.grandin.com/welfare/corporation.agents.html
 
"Analyst Says Poultry Growers Oblivious to Poor Conditions," Western Producer, Mary MacArthur, December 12, 2002.
http://www.producer.com/articles/20021212/news/20021212news19.html
Alberta Farm Animal Care Association
http://www.afac.ab.ca
 

3. EGG INDUSTRY DEVOTED TO ANIMAL WELFARE
The October issue of Egg Industry focuses almost exclusively on animal welfare and includes extensive interviews with representatives of Compassion Over Killing, The Humane Society of the U.S., and United Poultry Concerns. Among the many issues addressed are: forced molting, "spent hens," free-range production, direct action, the lack of legal protection for birds, and welfare standards. [Despite United Egg Producers (UEP)'s refusal (see issue #90), Farmed Animal Watch has obtained a copy of UEP's recently released guidelines for laying hens. Among the recommendations are: space allowance of 67 to 86 square inches per bird, manure should not drop directly on birds in lower cages, the shortest period of feed withdrawal possible should be used to force molting with birds losing no more than 30% of their weight, and recommendations on beak cutting. For additional information, write: info@FarmedAnimal.net ]
 
Editorial director Charles Olentine ends the welfare series with an article entitled "The Best Defense is an Offense." He notes: "In the long run, molting, as we know it today, is dead." He concurs that size and density are not the only issues with cages and that free-range production is not necessarily welfare-friendly. He specifies crisis management and "spent hens" as problem areas in need of attention. Olentine states, "If we feel uncomfortable educating the consumer as to how eggs are produced, maybe we need to look at how we are producing the eggs." He urges industry to work with activists to focus on what is good for the birds, concluding: "If there is a decision to be made that can go one way or another, we need to be willing to ask ourselves, ‘What is best for the bird?'"
 
"If Those Were Dogs and Cats in Cages...," "Give Me Land, Lots of Land," "Activism: Do the Ends Justify the Means?" Egg Industry, Charles Olentine, October 2002.
http://www.wattnet.com/Archives/Docs/1002ei.pdf?CFID=28327&CFTOKEN=64015918
 

4. EGG INDUSTRY DISCUSSES "ANIMAL WELFARE ASSAULT"
Animal welfare was again the main issue at the United Egg Producers (UEP) annual meeting, held in October. (See issues #79 & 90.) It was announced that 163 companies, representing over 200 million laying hens, have signed up for the UEP animal welfare certification program. (UEP's 216 members have 235 million laying hens, comprising about 85% of the U.S. population.) UEP has contacted the USDA and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists to draft an auditing manual, to be completed by April 15, 2003. It was emphasized that UEP needs to keep control of the auditing program. Tim Hammonds, President and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), addressed the meeting participants (see issue #75). He said the egg industry is ahead of other farmed animal industries in its approach to "the animal welfare assault." Dr. Hammonds said FMI does not want association members to audit egg companies and will put an "arms length" audit in place.
 
Heated discussion arose over whether certified companies need to certify all eggs including those not sold in shell. Problems with auditing and public relations if 100% participation was not adopted were pointed out and it was voted that "when producers certify to the UEP guidelines it will be 100% of their production under their management control." Participants were strongly advised to check with UEP or its PR firm before answering any media questions about this. A monthly compliance report from certified companies to UEP is to be strictly adhered to, and there is to be no tolerance on bird numbers in cages and buildings.     
 
The continuing depressed state of egg prices was discussed. [For more information on this see "Bad for Chickens, Good for Some Egg Farmers, Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2003 at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-egg8jan08,0,5282923.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines% ] There are 5-6 million more hens in production than recommended. It was noted that there has been no compliance with bird number guidelines outlined in previous meetings although UEP regularly reports on overproduction problems. It was stated that no one is living up to previous agreements, and that many older hens "should have gone to heaven." A meeting was being organized to discuss possible new uses for "spent hens." [Industry is now having to pay to dispose of them. See "Industry Outlook: Production Struggles Hold On, Poultry Times, Dec. 9, 2002 http://www.poultryandeggnews.com/poultrytimes/news/December2002/534550.html ] A USDA official discussed government poultry and egg purchase programs, noting that it is difficult to justify the "bonus buy" program while industry continues to increase the number of hens. (Total federal funding and support obtained by UEP's Government Relations program to proactively support the interests of the egg industry amounts to $1.48 billion.) He also said the USDA is feeling pressured by the animal welfare issue and wants to begin audits in 2003.
 
This edition of Egg Industry also includes an article about the industry and welfare research in other countries. Animal welfare is also a big issue in Canada, and the industry is working with American efforts "to combat the problem." Welfare developments in Europe are said to be the result of effective lobbying by animal activists.        
 
"Record Crowds and Heated Discussion at UEP," Egg Industry, John Todd, November 2002.
http://www.wattnet.com/Archives/Docs/1102ei.pdf?CFID=28327&CFTOKEN=64015918
 

5. CATTLEMEN DRAFTING WELFARE GUIDELINES
Pressured by animal rights activists, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has been drafting animal welfare guidelines for the past several months. The organization did so at the urging of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Food Marketing Institute (representing supermarkets), whose members will begin requiring suppliers to verify animals have been handled according to guidelines (see issue #75). The NCBA "producer code of cattle care" makes general recommendations for ranchers, feedlots, auction yards and handlers. Among the proposals are castration and dehorning prior to 120 days of age or 500 pounds, with technique recommendations for heavier calves, and restrictions on the electrical prodding of cattle. A farmed animal health specialist at Kansas State University explains: "The goal is to create a document addressing common issues across the industry in the care and handling of cattle that explains ‘what we do' to the consuming public." Much of the cattlemen's focus is on how to  document animal treatment in order to get higher prices for them. The final draft is expected to be adopted next year. The Colorado Cattlemen's Association Animal Welfare Code of Ethics, which is praised as a model by Cow-Calf Weekly, can be viewed at: http://cca.beef.org/pages/codes_of_ethics.htm
 
"Cattlemen Work on Animal Care Rules," The Associated Press, Roxana Hegeman, 12/24/02.
http://www.cjonline.com/stories/122502/bus_cattlemen.shtml
 
 
6. GRANDIN ON WELFARE AUDITING
"We in the beef industry can develop our own guidelines or have someone else do it for us," explains Dr. Temple Grandin (see item #2 above). Some groups within the National Cattlemen's Beef Association are "totally against any guidelines whatsoever," she explains. Auditing requirements are proceeding from slaughter back to production, with feedlots the first to experience them. At the production phase, Grandin looks primarily at prodding, falling and speed, explaining "I also score the animals' vocalization in getting into the chute and being caught, but not their vocalization while they're in the squeeze chute. Any animal will moo when their ears are caught in the squeeze." Due to their sheer number, ranch audits are likely to be done on a random basis with large ranches most likely to be audited.
 
Increasingly, fast-food chains are hiring commercial auditing companies to conduct animal welfare audits of their suppliers. Grandin is working with auditing companies to teach them the American Meat Institute (AMI)'s Objective Slaughter Scoring System, which she designed. The system scores slaughterplant workers on the percentage of animals who: are electrically prodded, fall down during handling, vocalize during handling and stunning, are sufficiently stunned with one shot, and remain insensible after having been stunned. The article tells the scoring of 54 AMI plants audited in 2002. "A lot of activists like to attack the Big Three [Tyson, Excel and Swift] on animal handling but that isn't where the problem is," said Grandin. Her audit forms can be found at: http://www.grandin.com/meat.institute.menu.html
 
"Grandin Talks About Animal Welfare Audits," Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, January 3, 2003.
 

7. ANIMAL WELFARE AUDITING SERVICES 
The National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Food Marketing Institute (see issue #75) have begun training sessions for welfare auditors who will certify farmed animal production and slaughter standards. Individuals with animal science training can apply to SES, Inc., which is implementing the auditing program. See: http://www.awaudit.org
 
Silliker, Inc., "a leading industry auditor" (per the American Meat Institute), has developed welfare audits for cattle, pigs and poultry, in collaboration with Dr. Temple Grandin (see items #2 & 6 above). The audit can be completed in 8 hours and assesses facility design and maintenance, treatment and handling of animals, and stunning. To obtain a copy of the guidelines call: (708) 957-7878. See also: http://www.silliker.com/html/index.php#Animal_welfare 
 
The Farm Animal Care Training and Auditing, LLC (FACTA) is a private company which has begun an independent animal welfare training and auditing program. FACTA is operated by Dr. John McGlone, an animal scientist and director of the Pork Industry Institute at Texas Tech Univ., and William R. Patterson, a certified public accountant. See: http://www.FACTAllc.com 
 

8. CATTLE MANAGEMENT & REPRODUCTION COURSES
IQ+BEEF is an Internet-based quality assurance certification course for cattle production produced by Purdue University. A detailed outline of the course, including photographs, can be found at: http://www.iqbeef.org Covered topics include "hot button" animal handling and well-being issues with an educational module which begins by examining the theory of the animal well-being movement. Castration, dehorning, and branding are also covered. The online course fee is $10, or $25 with a reference manual. The program is a cooperative effort of land-grant universities, state cattlemen's associations, state departments of agriculture, Farm Bureaus and farmed animal marketing co-ops. The groups hope it will become a standardized national program, and organizers envision ranchers in 20 states taking the online courses by next summer. 
 
The University of Minnesota Extension Service is offering a cattle reproduction management home study course for ranchers. It includes 6 lessons covering health management for reproduction, nutrition effects on reproduction, genetics, heifer development, and raising versus buying replacement animals. An appendix listing advanced reproductive technology is included. Registration is $40 and should be received by January 27th. The lessons and registration information can be found under "Home Study Course" at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/county/main/master.asp?getnav=22&county_id=60
 
"Beef Quality: Producer Certification Course Enters Cyberspace," Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, December 20, 2002.
 

9. BEEF MAGAZINE INFORMATION SERVICES
Beef Magazine has a number of free publications and web sites available to the public. The magazine and other agricultural periodicals can be found at: http://www.beef-mag.com where interested individuals can also sign up for Cow-Calf Weekly, an e-mail newsletter. A joint project between BEEF Magazine and Kansas State University, http://www.beefstockerusa.org offers news, fact sheets, research reports, distance learning opportunities and other information for the management of yearling cattle. This week, http://www.beefcowcalf.com "an online encyclopedia of management information devoted exclusively to beef cow-calf production" debuted. The site has more than 2,000 links to fact sheets and university research reports on cow-calf production and management. There are also links to horse information sources.
 
"Introducing www.BeefCowCalf.Com," Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, January 3, 2003.