Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

December 19, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #38 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. Legality of Feed Restriction Upheld
2. Nonambulatory Animals in The Food Supply: Legislation & Litigation
3. Australian Live Export Developments
4. Complaints Lodged Against Vet for Killing of Hens
5. Chicken Slaughter "Horror Stories"
6. "Butchered"
7. Turkey Tribulations
8. Thanksgiving Leftovers
 

1. LEGALITY OF FEED RESTRICTION UPHELD
"In recent decades, genetic selection of breeding animals for greater productivity (profit, in other words) has given us dairy cows producing 10 times as much milk as their calves would drink, double-muscled beef cattle so large that Caesarean births are the norm, and chickens growing so fast that their bodies give way under the metabolic strain," explains Joyce D'Silva of Compassion in World Farming. Over the last 30 years, the time required for a chick to reach market slaughter weight has dropped from nearly 3 months to just over 40 days. The industry is endeavoring to further reduce this by a day a year through intense selective breeding. Over the last 40 years, the number of chickens killed annually for meat grew globally from 8 billion to 49 billion. Some 98% of the world's chickens raised for meat are descended from birds bred by 3 companies. The birds gain weight so quickly their skeletal systems often cannot sustain them. Although they are slaughtered prior to reaching 2 months of age, an estimated 20% of the birds have moderate to severe lameness. The fast growth rate also strains the cardiovascular system, fatally in a significant proportion of the birds. In order to keep birds used for breeding purposes healthy enough to reproduce, they are rationed only a third of the normal amount of feed, causing them to suffer chronic hunger. See also: http://tinyurl.com/zodh & http://www.livefastdieyoung.org
 
In October, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) challenged the legality of feed restriction in a case before the High Court in London (item #3: http://tinyurl.com/znd0 ). CIWF argued that the government is diluting 1998 European legislation which states that farmers have an "obligation to ensure animal welfare." Britain only requires them to take "reasonable steps." On Nov. 28th, the case was rejected by a judge due to the "stark reality of the position and status animals have in the human food chain." Justice Newman listed a "raft of measures....[as] sufficient evidence of an ample and effective response to the ethical call from the European Union." The ruling means 800 million chickens in Britain will continue to be raised each year "in conditions which are an embarrassment to the Government," notes The Independent. CIWF was ordered to pay 2/3rds of the Government's legal bill. It was denied the right to appeal to the House of Lords but can petition the Law Lords directly. The organization plans to vigorously lobby for the forthcoming European Union directive on chickens to ban the use of fast-growing birds.      
   
"Chicken Meat has Never Been More Abundant," New Scientist, Joyce D'Silva, Nov. 15, 2003.
"Court Rejects Call to End Suffering of Broiler Chickens," The Independent, Michael McCarthy, November 28, 2003.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/story.jsp?story=467947
"Judge Backs Factory Farmers," Daily Mail, Sinead McIntyre, November 29, 2003.
http://www.femail.co.uk/pages/standard/article.html?in_article_id=202997&in_page_id=2
"High Court Refuses to Condemn Hunger Inflicted on Millions Of Chickens," CIWF news  release, November 27, 2003. 
http://www.ciwf.co.uk/PRs/2003/NR4703.htm
 
 
2. NONAMBULATORY ANIMALS IN THE FOOD SUPPLY: LEGISLATION, LITIGATION 
An amendment seeking to prevent the USDA from approving meat from nonambulatory animals for human consumption has been removed from the federal agricultural appropriations bill. The legislation was passed by the Senate but failed in the House by a 3-vote margin (see item #3: http://tinyurl.com/zo73 ). It was therefore sent to a conference committee which, on Dec. 9th,  eliminated it. "The Downed Animal Protection Act" is still pending in both the House and Senate. It calls for critically ill or injured farmed animals to be humanely euthanized and not slaughtered for food: http://www.hsus.org/ace/20085
 
On Dec. 16th, a U.S. appeals court ruled that Farm Sanctuary and Fordham University professor Michael Baur do have standing to file suit against the USDA for permitting the use of nonambulatory animals in the human food supply. The plaintiffs had argued that these animals are likely to be infected with "mad cow" disease and therefore pose a risk to consumers. The appeals court decided that, contrary to the lower court ruling, the disease did not have to have been detected in the U.S. in order for a credible risk to be alleged. USDA regulations allow nonambulatory animals to be used for human consumption if they pass a post-mortem inspection by a veterinarian. Background information on the suit can be found at: http://www.nodowners.org/index_federal.htm
 
"Update: Downed Animal Protection Amendment Stripped in Conference," Humanelines, December 17, 2003.
"Court Reinstates Madcow Suit Against USDA," Reuters, December 16, 2003.
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N16219477.htm
See also: http://tinyurl.com/zo7h
 

3. AUSTRALIAN LIVE EXPORT DEVELOPMENTS
Investigators with Compassion in World Farming were in Eritrea when the Cormo Express landed with its rejected load of sheep from Australia (see http://tinyurl.com/3anm6 ). They were refused permission to board the ship, and their request to meet with the Eritrean head vet overseeing the operation was denied. A local port worker told them that onboard the sheep had been standing in 9 inches of excrement. According to the official mortality figures, 5,691 sheep, 9.8% of the initial population, had died. The surviving sheep, many of whom were reportedly lame, were put in a feedlot with inadequate water or shelter. It appeared the sheep would not be stunned prior to slaughter {1, 2}. Australia is banning live animal trade with Saudi Arabia until a new policy governing it is in place, probably next year. An inquiry is due to report back to the government by the end of the year {3}. Australia's live export trade is at a 12-year low {4}.
 
Plans to export 70,000 sheep from Australia to Kuwait were put on hold Nov. 19th when Animal Liberation members claimed to have put pig meat in the sheeps' food and water systems. Muslim avoid pig meat, and the sheep, intended for halal slaughter, would have been rejected {5}. Veteran animal-rights activist Ralph Hahnheusser {6} presented police with video evidence of the deed {7}. The 40-year-old physicist was subsequently arrested for trespassing and "contamination of goods to cause economic loss." (Due to "mad cow" concerns, it is illegal to feed meat to ruminant animals.) He was released the next day on $4,000 bail {8}. The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) refused to issue an export license for the sheep until the Kuwaiti ministry guaranteed to accept them, so as not to have a repeat of the Cormo incident. Evidence and tests determined that 1,800 of the sheep had been exposed to the meat. They were slaughtered in Australia and, according to AQIS, exported to a non-halal oversees destination {9}. The other sheep were loaded without opposition and shipped to Kuwait on Dec. 7th, after an 18-day delay {5}. (The trip to Kuwait takes about 14 days.)
 
Farmers are "furious" about the incident {10}. Hahnheusser has been ordered to stay away from the feedlot and harbor. He faces a $24,000 ($17,000 U.S.) fine and up to 2 years in jail. A court date of  January 7th has been set {8}. Industry representatives are looking into legal action to recoup an estimated $50,000 in expenses said to have been incurred during the export delay {9}. An injunction is also being sought to keep activists from impeding the loading and export of live sheep and cattle at 3 major ports {11}. Activists have vowed to enlarge protests {5} and are considering injunctions to prevent ships from departing {5}. Animal Liberation Victoria's Patty Mark said the charges against Hahnheusser "will open up the whole issue of animal rights in Australia in a way that is long overdue"{6}.  
 
Animals Australia (AA) has filed a complaint with Western Australia police following an 8-day investigation of the November transport of 100,000 sheep to Kuwait. Investigator Lyn White reported 1,000 sheep dead upon arrival and many others suffering eye infections and blindness {12}. White also related the slaughtering she had witnessed: "Well, fair to say that I expected to go up there and see the religious slaughter which the industry talks about being necessary for shipping of live animals. It was not in any way religious, there were none of the prerequisites that are set down by the Muslims in regard to it – there was no facing animals in a particular direction, no quoting of a particular section prior to slaughter. The animals were viewing each other being slaughtered, which is not allowed as well. And it was just mass throat cutting, writhing animals lying on top of each other. One of the most distressing things was seeing live animals being pulled across animals that were in the death throes, being pulled across them, seeing what was going on and then having their throats cut." She said she has footage of the slaughter but is not prepared to release it publicly. A representative of Livecorp, the private company which controls live exports, said the complaint is a publicity stunt {13}. AA said it will lodge a complaint under the Animal Welfare Act with every shipment that leaves Fremantle {12}
 
On Dec. 17th, an AQIS vet was cleared on appeal of cruelty charges in a case regarding 1,137 goats whom he had inspected for air transport to the Middle East in 2001. An RSPCA inspection found the goats coughing and crowded into 8 wood crates. Some of the goats were removed from the plane due to their inability to stand upright without touching the ceiling of the crates. The judge ruled that, because the vet was not the person in charge of the goats, he could not be charged under animal cruelty laws {14}.
 
1. "Horror Continues for Stranded Australian Sheep," Compassion in World Farming, Nov. 11, 2003. http://www.ciwf.co.uk/PRs/2003/NR4103.htm        
2. "The Cormo Express Tragedy," Animals Australia, November 12, 2003.
http://www.animalsaustralia.org/action/cormoupdate.htm
3. "Australia Continues Saudi Live Exports Ban," Meating Place, Brendan O'Neill, Nov. 6, 2003.  http://www.agris.be/fr/03/1011n3008.asp 
4. "Protests Set to Escalate," Portland Observer, Jason Wallace, November 7, 2003. 
http://www.spec.com.au/display.asp?Id=3134#
5. "Sheep Export Protests to Continue," The Age, December 7, 2003. 
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/07/1070732062679.html
6. "Riding on the Sheep's Back," The Weekend Australian, Richard Yallop, November 21, 2003.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,7926475^28737,00.html
7. "Man Arrested over Pig-Meat Sabotage Plot on 70,000 Australian Sheep,"Agence France Presse, November 20, 2003. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/58176/1/.html 
8. "Animal Group Continues to Fight Against Exports," The Warrnambool Standard, Andrew Thomson & Sarah Lipovas, November 22, 2003. http://the.standard.net.au/articles/2003/11/22/1069027375075.html
9. "Live Sheep Finally Cleared to Leave Portland," The Warrnambool Standard, Eve Lamb, December 6, 2003. http://the.standard.net.au/articles/2003/12/06/1070625572103.html
10. "Farmers Furious about Animal Activist Actions," The Warrnambool Standard, Eve Lamb, November 20, 2003. http://the.standard.net.au/articles/2003/11/20/1069027224854.html
11. "VFF Seeks Injunction Against Protesters," ABC Rural News, Dec. 8, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/stories/s1005567.htm
12. "Animal Welfare Group Lodges Live Export Complaint," ABC National Rural News, December 19, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/stories/s1013514.htm
13. "Animals Australia claim possession of live sheep trade video footage," PM, David Weber, December 18, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2003/s1013085.htm
14. "Vet Cleared over Cruelty Charges," NEWS, Melissa Jenkins,  December 3, 2003. 
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,8191856%5E1702,00.html
 

4. COMPLAINTS LODGED AGAINST VET FOR KILLING OF HENS
The San Diego County's Animal Services Dept. has filed a complaint against veterinarian Gregg Cutler, alleging that he authorized an egg operation to kill hens by putting the birds through a wood-chipping machine (item #4: http://tinyurl.com/27swr ). In her report, Animal Services officer Mary Kay Gagliardo wrote: "I then asked him if he felt it was still humane if they were going in there bunches at a time, being plugged up in the chute, not knowing if they were going into the shredder feet first, breast first, if he still considered that a humane death, and he said to me, 'Yes, of course. However they go in, it's quick, it's painless, and it's over in seconds.' " Cutler denies this and claims the report contains numerous inaccuracies. The complaint was filed with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. If the California Veterinary Board pursues the matter it could result in Cutler being put on probation or suspended, or his license could be revoked.
 
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has denounced the use of a wood-chipper for this purpose (item #4: http://tinyurl.com/27swr ), and animal protection organizations are demanding that Cutler be removed from the AVMA's animal welfare committee. The American Association of Avian Pathologists defends Cutler, agreeing with him that the county's report is erroneous: http://tinyurl.com/3az8p [Photos of the machine used to kill the hens and additional details can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/33pr6 ] The opposition to legal protection for farmed animals by state and national veterinary associations was criticized in a Dec. 1st Los Angeles Times opinion piece by animal protection advocates Peter Singer and Karen Dawn. The impact animal protection advocates are having on the veterinary profession is discussed in two articles published in the Oct. 1st DVM Newsmagazine: http://tinyurl.com/3fb7s & http://tinyurl.com/2bsl2
 
"Wood-Chipped Chickens Fuel Outrage," The Los Angeles Times, Jia-Rui Chong, Nov. 22, 2003.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-chipper22nov22,1,7606839.story
"Back at the Ranch, a Horror Story," The Los Angeles Times, Peter Singer & Karen Dawn, December 1, 2003.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-singer1dec01,1,886770.story    
See also: http://www.dawnwatch.com/Animal_media_alerts.htm#AVMA
 

5. CHICKEN SLAUGHTER "HORROR STORIES"
Former poultry slaughterplant worker Virgil Butler (item #6: http://tinyurl.com/yrkoo ) is profiled in a sizable Los Angeles Times article (which also ran in The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun). Fired from Tyson last November, Butler has been relating his work experiences to the world through a web log ("blog"): http://www.cyberactivist.blogspot.com  (The Guardian, a major British newspaper, recommends it as a "must-read.") The Times states: "He spares no gore in recounting the slaughter, including the occasional mishaps that condemn some birds to broken bones, shocks, bruises and being boiled alive in the scalding tank." Butler also tells of co-workers who tore the heads off of live chickens, stomped chickens to death, and blew others apart with dry-ice "bombs."
 
Butler claims he was fired for loudly complaining about conditions for both birds and workers. Tyson won't specify why he was fired but dismiss him as a disgruntled worker who resorted to telling horror tales after losing his job. Firsthand accounts of slaughterplant abuses are usually anonymous, and Butler has been embraced by prominent animal rights organizations. (See, for example: http://www.GoVeg.com/tyson.html ) A self-described hillbilly, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict's murky past has added to the controversy. "All my life, people told me, ‘They're just damn chickens.' I had no idea so many people would care," he said. Within weeks of logging onto Butler's site, Tyson announced plans to inspect its slaughterplants regularly to monitor the treatment of the 42 million chickens killed in them each year. [On Nov. 21st, the company also announced its Office of Animal Well-Being: http://tinyurl.com/2lypf ] Butler questions the company's denial that it was due to the blog. "One person can make a difference if you just don't shut up," he said. "If you keep talking long enough people will hear you." 
 
A brief video interview, with slaughterplant footage, can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/34rka
A report on the need for legislation to protect poultry at slaughter is at: http://tinyurl.com/3fpmv 
 
"A Killing Floor Chronicle," The Los Angeles Times, Stephanie Simon, December 8, 2003.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1208-07.htm
 

6. "BUTCHERED"
"Hundreds of hogs swing by on a conveyer line; flayed and shackled up by their hind legs, their heads dangling by a flap of skin, they smack together like bowling pins. We stare at the blank faces of the men who thrust in and out of the hogs' bellies with knives, yanking out glistening tubes of red and grey entrails, bowels, hearts and livers that will eventually be chopped, packaged and shipped off for the dinner table. ‘We'd harvest the farts if we could,' Mike offers with a certain morbid glee. ‘Yup. We use just about everything. Only 3% of the pig goes to waste around here.' My tongue suddenly feels like it's caked with the stench of sweat and scared animals. My head begins to swing like a seesaw. ‘Don't you dare puke,'' Mike snorts, grabbing at my helmet to take note of my name, displayed there in bold lettering. ‘Suck it up, Princess.''' The author goes on to tell about the rest of her short stint as a slaughterplant trainee at Maple Leaf Pork in Manitoba, Canada in this lengthy article. Intended as a "world-class processing plant" capable of killing and processing 90,000 pigs a week, the 4-year-old operation is functioning at half capacity due to a 100% turnover rate. Serious injuries occur in the Canadian slaughter industry at a rate 5 times the national average. The U.S. industry is also considered.
 
"Butchered," The Globe and Mail, Susan Bourette, November 28, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/xwxj or
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031128/RO12BUTCH//?query=Susan+Bourette
SEE ALSO: "Hog Tales," The Globe and Mail, Laas Turnbull, November 28, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/xx9v or
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031128/RO12DIARY//?query=Bourette
AND: "Magazine Knifes City Plant," Brandon Sun, Curtis Brown, November 29, 2003. http://www.brandonsun.com/index.php?id=3494
 

7. TURKEY TRIBULATIONS
Working as a turkey plucker, a Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) investigator obtained footage of birds being abused at two independent operations in England. This included: no pre-stunning prior to killing, birds with their throats slit being plucked alive, and turkeys with their heads submerged in a vat of congealed blood as they bled to death. On Dec.14th, the footage was aired nationally on the BBC's "Countryfile" program. CIWF said it will be seeking prosecution for those responsible for the abuse. The RSPCA also criticized turkey production methods, including the imposed need for artificial insemination, and the failure of legislation "to protect many millions of turkeys from a life in which they are denied the opportunity to express natural behaviours such as mating, moving around freely and exploring their environment." The organization points out that selective breeding and high stocking densities can lead to aggression and cannibalism. The U.K. has no legal criteria for food, water, lighting or handling of turkeys. Links to vegetarian alternatives to turkey meat are available on the ANC source site below.
 
In the U.S., turkey consumption has doubled since 1970 to 14 pounds per person annually. About 269 million birds are raised here each year - nearly one for every human resident. Although this is down from a high of 292 million birds in 1995, turkeys are heavier now and collectively weigh 0.6 billion pounds more: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20031127_14.html
 
"Suffering of Farmed Turkeys Exposed in U.K.," Animal News Center; ANC Staff, CIWF & RSPCA, December 14, 2003.
http://www.anc.org/farm/farm_article.cfm?identifier=2003_1214_turkey
"Turkey Farming," BBC Countryfile, December 14, 2003.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/environment/programmes/countryfile/#2
SEE ALSO: "Bug 'Infects Two-thirds of Turkeys,'" BBC News, December 15, 2003.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/3318761.stm
 

8. THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS
To see a ‘vegetarian turkey,' click: http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1796513126
 
"Thankful Indeed": http://www.upc-online.org/whatsnew/112603florence.htm