Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

October 17, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #32 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. 10,000 Pigs Found Dead & Dying 
2. Farmers Cheer as Cow Shot Dead
3. The Dairy Industry's "Disgraceful Secret"
4. Stressed-out Pigs
5. Video Encyclopedia of Farm Animal Behavior
6. The Emotional World of Farm Animals
7. The Secret Life of Cows
8. Farmed Animal Friends
9. Upcoming Events: Liberation Now!; From the Farm Gate to the Dinner Plate
 

1.  10,000 PIGS FOUND DEAD & DYING 
Some 10,000 dead and dying pigs have been found by Ontario SPCA officers at 6 locations associated with Wood Lynn Farms Ltd. across Southwestern Ontario. Among the officers findings were: almost 2000 dead piglets in manure tanks, newborn piglets trampled by adult pigs, piglets eaten by "thousands if not tens of thousands of rats," piles of dead pigs, decomposing pigs, and a pig being beaten to death by a contractor with a metal pipe. At every location, the pigs had inadequate food, water and bedding, with many areas filthy and wet. All of the pigs were in a distressed state, and extensive cannibalism was observed. Many of the surviving pigs were euthanized due to their poor health. The others were sent to slaughter. The investigation began in April, following a complaint by a member of the public. Seventy-seven charges have been brought against 7 men, including causing unnecessary pain, causing unnecessary suffering, willful neglect and abandoning an animal in distress. Wood Lynn Farms was not charged since it went bankrupt during the investigation, but 4 senior officials and 3 contractors have been charged. In the late 1990's, the company, which developed the "Baconmaker" breed of pigs, was Canada's largest exporter of pigs for breeding.
 
In Ottawa, 2 brothers face a dozen animal cruelty charges at a November 25th trial. An agent with the Humane Society of Ottawa County found "ghoulish" conditions at their farm where some 200 pigs were "living in a light brown slush comprised of rainwater, urine, feces and the residue of dead pigs." A steer was found in a pen lined with feces 2 feet deep. The brothers have until November 12th to sell the remaining 120 pigs who are living in a dilapidated barn.    
 
"Pigs Found Dead, Dying," London Free Press, Kelly Pedro, October 15, 2003.
http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/LondonFreePress/News/2003/10/15/226053.html
"Charges Laid as Officers Find Thousands of Decaying Pigs," National Post, James Cowan, Oct. 15, 2003. http://tinyurl.com/r3o2 or http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=C648AE58-FD8F-48E2-9A5A-0B9D769F00C1
"Hundreds of Dead Pigs Found on Ontario Farm," Canadian Press, Oct. 14 2003. http://tinyurl.com/r3p1 or http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1066159771810_61568971/?hub=Canada
"Animal Cruelty Trial Set for November," The News-Messenger, Rick Neale, October 14, 2003.
http://www.thenews-messenger.com/news/stories/20031014/localnews/452936.html
 

2.  FARMERS CHEER AS COW SHOT DEAD
In Quebec, reporters were invited to witness the killing of 2 cows in protest of the lack of compensation farmers and ranchers are receiving for "mad cow" disease (see item #4 of: http://tinyurl.com/oc11 ). Farmers cheered and gave a victory salute as the first cow crumpled to the ground from a shot to the forehead. Afterward, she was put into a front-end loader and dumped into a pit. The incident was repeatedly broadcasted. (A video of the shooting became inaccessible shortly after it was made available on a news website: http://tinyurl.com/r4g4 ) Some farmers threatened to kill more cows that way rather than sell them at cut-rate prices. They are calling for $30 million compensation in addition to the $58 million the province has already provided. The SPCA decried the shootings as barbaric. Quebec has no law against shooting farmed animals but the SPCA is looking into whether the shootings are in violation of the Criminal Code. The following day, Alberta, which has about half of Canada's 13 million cattle, agreed to give its industry another $100 million compensation, adding to the $300 million the province has already committed for feedlot owners. Premier Ralph Klein warned there is no more money, commenting: "We've already spent hundreds of millions on this issue - this one ridiculous, stupid mad cow."
 
"Quebec Farmer Shoots Cow in BSE Protest," Canadian Press, Oct. 9, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/qg64 or
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1065694780323&call_pageid=968332188774&col=968350116467
"Quebec Farmers Shoot Cows in Protest," Canadian Press, October 10, 2003
http://www.fftimes.com/index.php/6/2003-10-10/15569
"Alberta to Spend $100-million for Cattle Cull," Canadian Press, Oct. 10, 2003
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20031010.wklein1010/BNStory/Front/
 
 
3.  THE DAIRY INDUSTRY'S "DISGRACEFUL SECRET"
An October 10th op-ed in The Ottawa Citizen tells that surveys conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found 7,382 nonambulatory animals arrived at federal slaughterplants and auction markets across Canada in 2001 (see: http://tinyurl.com/r4eg ). Most of these animals were cows from dairies who had become debilitated prior to being sent. According to the authors, a director of The Winnipeg Humane Society and the farmed animal advisor to the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC), the surveys only covered a few sites and therefore revealed only a small extent of the problem. Documents obtained by AAC show that animals with serious injuries and diseases are transported in violation of the law and industry guidelines. Examples include a cow with a broken back whom a veterinarian granted the farmer 48 hours to move; a cow with externally prolapsed reproductive organs and possible internal hemorrhaging from just having given birth was deemed by a vet to be fit for transport, as was a cow with a swollen leg and possible fracture that appeared "very painful." No painkillers or other medications were administered to the cows. A CFIA survey found that nearly 40% of nonambulatory cows, and 60% of nonambulatory pigs were condemned, calling into question the economic sense of sending such animals to slaughter. The op-ed notes that Manitoba does not allow the transport of nonambulatory animals under any circumstances. Contending that production practices need to change, the authors call upon the dairy industry to explain why so many cows cannot walk.           
 
In the U.S., 1 in 5 of the 9 million cows used by the dairy industry is suffering leg or foot pain. Lameness is the 3rd biggest health problem, following bacteria and reproductive ailments. The condition can be caused by rough flooring, damp conditions, diet and genetics. It sometimes causes open sores, and costs the industry an estimated $570 million in lost productivity and medical expenses. Larger herds have resulted in less attention to individual animals, and workers, often migrants, tend to be untrained or unable to communicate the problem. A Wisconsin company plans to soon start selling a device, the Reaction Force Detection System, designed to catch lameness early on. 
 
A June conference sponsored by DeLaval, a Swiss dairy company, and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization brought together 250 members of the world dairy industry from 35 countries. Animal welfare concerns were included among the leading challenges the global industry faces. Noting that these concerns will continue to grow, a DeLaval representative said, "The more we accept the ‘Disneyfication' of all animals – giving cartoon animals human-like qualities, the harder it will be to educate consumers on the true facets of production agriculture." All members of the food chain were urged to unite and stand up for modern, high-tech agriculture.
 
"The Disgraceful Secret Down on the Farm," The Ottawa Citizen, John Youngman and Stephanie Brown, October 10, 2003.
http://131.104.232.9/fsnet/2003/10-2003/fsnet_oct_10.htm#story9
"Lame Cows Detected Early," The Baltimore Sun, Meredith Cohn, October 2, 2003.
http://www.sunspot.net/business/bal-bz.lame02oct02,0,5245134.story?coll=bal-business-headlines
"Conference In Sweden Promotes Communication Among All Segments Worldwide," Dairy Herd Management, Shirley Roenfeldt, October 1, 2003.
http://www.vancepublishing.com/fsi/articles/0310/0310inaction.htm
 

4.  STRESSED-OUT PIGS
Half a century of selective breeding for lean muscle mass has also led to a condition in pigs known as porcine stress syndrome (PSS). It causes pigs to be very nervous and excitable, making them difficult to handle. Psychological and physical stress can cause these pigs to suffer a hypermetabolic state which can result in overheating and potential heart failure. Such an attack can resolve itself if the pig is allowed to rest, but if the pig is slaughtered while in that state their flesh "turns into sweating pale cuts of meat that ooze liquid in the packaging and become leathery when cooked." [This is known as pale, soft exudative (PSE) meat.] This is the case with some 10-15% of pig meat, and the industry estimates that PSS costs $90 million a year in lost revenue. Despite efforts to breed the syndrome out of pigs the incidence of PSS meat has remained nearly the same. Although PSS is correlated with the mutation of a gene involved in muscle contraction, pigs who test negative for the mutation still produce PSE meat. Researchers are looking for other genetic clues. In August, the National Pork Board initiated a voluntary program for the evaluation and improved welfare of the 97 million pigs slaughtered in the U.S. each year (see item #4: http://tinyurl.com/o35j ).
 
Under natural conditions, a sow would wean her piglets when they are 10-12 weeks of age. The pig industry has been removing piglets from their mothers at increasingly early ages. In commercial conditions, they are now weaned at about 16-18 days of age. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Aldroaldo Zanella is studying the development of social memory in piglets, "the ability to distinguish between friends and strangers." He has observed that piglets weaned at an earlier age fight for much longer periods of time than do later-weaned pigs. Using swimming experiments, he found indications that weaning at an early age may alter piglets' brains in a manner that negatively affects their behavior when they are stressed. He wonders if the effects are long-lived, and wants to learn if early-weaned pigs have trouble learning under stress later in life. Pigs are very social and dislike being isolated. Zanella hopes his research will help resolve aggression problems which can occur in group housing systems so they can replace gestation stalls for pigs (see: http://tinyurl.com/r6fm ). The article discusses various approaches other animal scientists are taking to the housing issue. Notes animal welfare professor David Fraser (U. of B.C.), "I think the wise strategy of the industry is to solve the welfare problems of the group systems rather than try to continue justifying the stall systems." (See: http://tinyurl.com/r6ff )
 
"When Pigs Stress out," The New York Times, Armelle Casau, October 7, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/07/science/07PORK.html
"Scientists Study Swimming Swine to Raise More Sociable Sows," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lila Guterman, October 3, 2003.
http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i06/06a01401.htm (available only with paid subscription)
 

5.  VIDEO ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FARM ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service is creating the "Encyclopedia of Farm Animal Behavior." The project, intended for research and teaching, will provide a standard for what farmed animal actions constitute a certain behavior. Drawing from definitions in the "Dictionary of Farm Animal Behavior," a review panel will use video footage from Purdue University and other images to come up with a video clip depicting behavior fitting each definition. Visitors to the site can also submitted comments on whether the behaviors accurately match the definitions. The comments will be used by a review panel to evaluate images on at least a yearly basis. Cattle and pig behavior are initially being addressed. (Definitions for other species' behavior are also available on the site.) The images are freely available for public use. The encyclopedia and information about it can be accessed at: http://www.liru.asft.ttu.edu/EFAB/default.asp
 

6.  THE EMOTIONAL WORLD OF FARM ANIMALS
Author of the New York Times bestseller "When Elephants Weep," and "Dogs Never Lie About Love," which explore the emotionality of wild and domestic animals, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has turned his attention to farmed animals. This was brought about when a woman told him of the severe anxiety and stress suffered by her companion pig who was rescued from slaughter. Masson undertook the joint venture of a book and companion film documentary. The film, "The Emotional World of Farm Animals," intersperses scenes of animals in the wild and in sanctuaries with footage of farmed animals in intensive production systems. Intended for a general audience, Animal Place cofounder Kim Sturla, the film's executive producer, explains "We want to expose people to these animals as individuals. For most of the general public, the notion that farmed animals are actually thinking, feeling beings is a radical concept." Animal Place is featured in the film, along with Farm Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, and Wilderness Ranch.
 
"The Pig Who Sang to the Moon," is the title of the book. Random House, which has scheduled a November 4th release date, writes: "Weaving history, literature, science, and his own vivid experiences observing pigs, cows, sheep, goats, and chickens, Masson bears witness to the emotions and intelligence of these remarkable animals, each unique with distinct qualitites." The 1st chapter is on-line at: http://tinyurl.com/r9u8  Screenings of the film and book signing with Masson and Sturla will be held in California in November. See (PDF file): http://www.animalplace.org/ap_news_fall_2003.pdf   
 
"Playful Pigs, Sensitive Cows, Curious Chickens – New Animal Place Film Explores the Emotional Lives of Farmed Animals," The Glaser Progress Foundation press release, July 2003.
http://www.progressproject.org/news/pr_emotional_lives.asp
 

7.  THE SECRET LIFE OF COWS
Cows can love, bond and form strong lifelong friendships. They can sulk, play games, hold grudges, and be vain. Rosamund Young has made these observations at Kite's Nest Farm, an organic dairy farm in Worcestershire, England. In her book "The Secret Life of Cows," Young explains the unique and complex relationships between mother and daughter cows. "Although we were pleased to be trusted by most of our cows, we admired the few who were independent from us," she writes. Young considers the life of cows to be secret in that intensive dairying has rendered their natural behavior unprofitable, unimportant and out of place. She argues that compassion in farming makes sound economic sense as well as ethical sense:
http://www.animalsentience.com/features/secret_life_of_cows.htm
 

8.  FARMED ANIMAL FRIENDS
Having closely associated with cows for the past quarter century, Helga Tacreiter "has become something of a Margaret Meade of the bovine world" states an October 12th article in The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Farm Offers a Little Slice of Bovine Heaven" profiles Tacreiter, telling how she came to found Cow Sanctuary, where she and her companion cow herd now reside along with 5 horses, 4 emus, 2 goats, 3 geese, 3 chickens and 6 cats  in Cumberland County, Pa.: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/6990575.htm
 
While it hasn't any cows, Bleating Hearts Animal Sanctuary is home to 70-80 sheep, goats, llamas, turkeys, chickens and rabbits, all of whom were once abandoned or facing slaughter. The small farm in the Colorado foothills of Coal Creek Canyon is also home to David Welch and Lynn Halpern, an aerospace engineer and a physicist. When Halpern learned that female goats must be continually impregnated and male are sent to slaughter, she dropped her plans for a goat dairy. After visiting Farm Sanctuary she became a vegetarian and began adopting farmed animals, ultimately founding Bleating Hearts with Welch, her husband. "Bleating Hearts' to Rescue," an October 13th article in the Rocky Mountain News, details this and discusses some of the sanctuary's farmed animal residents and how they came to live there: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/pets/article/0,1299,DRMN_64_2338595,00.html (A recent photo of Halpern protesting the AVMA's continued support of forced molting can be seen at: http://www.upc-online.org/fall2003/help.htm )
 

9.  UPCOMING EVENTS
LIBERATION NOW!
Liberation Now!, the 3rd annual National Student Animal Rights Conference, will be held November 7th-9th in Washington, D.C. The conference is specifically designed for youth, with a program that emphasizes hand-on interactive workshops on campaigns and organizing skills. The stated goal of the conference is to help inform and empower participants to take action in defense of animals. "GET ON THE HILL" is an event immediately following the conference. Participants will learn the basics of lobbying followed with a November 10th student lobby day on Capitol Hill. Registration for the conference is $20 through October 23rd, $25 thereafter. Organized by the Student Animal Rights Alliance, the conference is co-sponsored by Veg News and various animal protection organizations. For more information see: http://www.defendanimals.org/main/index.htm
 
FROM THE FARM GATE TO THE DINNER PLATE is the title of a conference to be held November 2nd-4th in Edmonton, Alberta. Hosted by the Agricultural Institute of Canada Foundation, the conference will examine agricultural technologies, products and practices regarding food safety. Agricultural policy and legislation will also be considered. The event is co-sponsored by various provincial agencies, the Canadian Pork Council and other agribusiness entities. For more information, see: http://www.aic.ca/aicf/conference/