Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
[missing header image]
[missing header image] Subscribe to Farmed Animal Watch

November 24, 2004 -- Number 77, Volume 2

Please visit our website:

 1. Farmed Turkeys: Welfare; Statistics; and Advocacy

As many people in the US prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded by animal advocates that the US slaughters nearly 300 million turkeys every year for consumption. Globally, the annual slaughter of turkeys is at least 691 million, suggesting that the US accounts for a sizable portion of the world's turkey slaughter. Per capita consumption of turkey flesh in the US has remained flat for about eight years, from a high of 18.2 pounds per person in 1996 to 17.3 pounds per person in 2004. Fighting against the continued consumption of turkeys during Thanksgiving and throughout the year, a growing number of animal advocates are highlighting the plight of turkeys using personal stories.

A personal account from author and long-time animal activist Jim Mason, featured on the website of Compassion Over Killing, discusses Mason's day working as an artificial inseminator for a Butterball Turkey farm in Missouri. Mason details the process of "breaking" turkey hens in order to inseminate them, as well as other issues like the plight of disadvantaged farm workers looking for employment. Other turkey advocates are emphasizing the positive aspects of vegetarianism, including Farm Sanctuary's "Adopt-A-Turkey" month during all of November, and meatless feed-ins by animal protection groups like Animal Place in California. The aptly named Turkey Story website ( provides the story of one rescued turkey named Adam. Adam's rescuer details the circumstances of the birds' conditions on a factory farm and provides an inspiring story of rescue and rehabilitation.

Some animal advocates in California are taking a more direct approach to turkey advocacy. Earlier this year, East Bay Animal Advocates (EBA) conducted an in-depth investigation and open rescue at a turkey farm in Northern California. Since 2003, EBAA has rescued almost 20 turkeys from "free-range" and factory farms. According to one EBAA activist, "Turkeys are just like dogs, they're very animated and intelligent animals. It's hard to say that until you actually meet a turkey." Responding to the group's investigations, however, one California poultry scientist claims that "Turkeys, all of them, are well cared for in California… They better be. They're worth a lot of money at Thanksgiving time.''

"Dairy and Poultry Statistics," USDA / NASS, 2004
PDF File:

"Artificial Turkeys: My Day Working as a Turkey Breeder," Jim Mason, Nov-04

"November is Adopt-A-Turkey Month," Farm Sanctuary press release, 11/8/2004

"Vegetarians Spare Turkeys during Animal Place Feed," The Reporter, 11/15/04,1413,295~30195~2534903,00.html

"Fair or Fowl? Free-Range Turkey Label Sparks Debate," San Jose Mercury News, 11/24/04 (Subscription required)

Turkey Investigation and Rescue by East Bay Animal Advocates

 2. Farmed Fish: PETA's Fish Empathy Project; Toxins in Fish Flesh

Animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched the "Fish Empathy Project" to increase awareness and educate consumers about the intelligence of fish. Citing a number of academic and industry reports, the PETA website provides a wealth of information relating to how fish feel emotions, think intelligently, and generally live complex lives. According to an article by biologist Culum Brown appearing in "New Scientist" magazine, "In many areas, such as memory, their (fish's) cognitive powers match or exceed those of 'higher' vertebrates, including non-human primates." As part of the Fish Empathy Project, PETA plans to begin holding demonstrations at seafood restaurants and to air a television advertisement featuring the late Linda McCartney.

In addition to concern for fish, PETA is also emphasizing reports on the high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other toxins found in fish meat consumed by people. PETA says that seafood is the number one cause of food poisoning in the US. The claims are corroborated by recent findings in the Mediterranean where scientists found fish containing PCBs and mercury, as well as dioxins and flame retardants. According to one scientist with the US Environmental Protection Agency, "Pollution is a worldwide problem, and our fish comes from around the world. No one is immune." Toxins consumed along with fish flesh can be stored in the human body for decades, according to PETA. The group's Fish Empathy Project is receiving widespread media coverage in the US and globally.

"Scientists Warn On Fish Toxins" CBS News / Associated Press, 11/22/04

"New EPA Rule to Reduce Factory Fish Farm Waste," BASS Times, Oct-04

"PETA Campaigns Against Eating Fish," CNN / Associated Press, 11/16/04

"Deadly Poisons from the Deep," PETA, 2004

 3. European Union Updates Farmed Animal Transport Regulations

The European Union (EU) has updated its regulations for the transport of farmed animals, although some observers were hoping for more stringent requirements. The new rules include shortened maximum journey times (100 kilometers) for young calves, lambs, and pigs, and "heavily pregnant" animals. Also, transport vehicles will be subject to more strict regulations regarding ventilation, temperature, and water access, and must have satellite navigation systems beginning in 2007. The updated regulations also include training and certification requirements for transport drivers. The EU food safety commissioner is said to be somewhat disappointed with the progress made, but the commission has a four-year window to review the new regulations and make additional recommendations. In June 2004 the EU issued an update to a comprehensive report on the "Welfare of Animals during Transport," including more than 180 pages of detailed information on farmed animal welfare during pre-loading, loading, shipment, and unloading.

"EU Tightens Transport Laws," Farmers Weekly, 11/23/04

"The Welfare of Animals during Transport," European Food Safety Authority, 2004

 4. BSE News: No Second US Case; Texas Woman Dies of Possible CJD

There have been a large number of media reports lately about a possible second case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the US. Although the two initial tests came back inconclusive, more rigorous testing by the US Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) shows that the cow was in fact not infected with BSE. As rumors of another US case of "mad cow" were quieted, a separate report says that a woman from Texas may be the country's first case of native-born variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE. The woman's family has requested a test to determine if that was the case, or if the woman died from the more common "classic CJD." The classic form occurs spontaneously, while other forms of the disease can be contracted from eating infected meat, particularly cow meat. Recent experiments on mice suggest that humans are subject to more forms of CJD from eating infected meat than previously believed.

"USDA: Secondary BSE Test Results Negative,", 11/23/04

"Texas Woman's Death May be Linked to BSE,", 11/23/04

"Humans May Get Different Forms of BSE," New Scientist, 11/23/04

 5. Consumer News: Meat Consumption Trends and Food Safety

Due in part to bans by foreign countries on US meat products and consequently higher domestic supplies and lower prices, the USDA expects domestic per capita meat consumption to increase to record levels in 2005. According to the November issue of "Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook," USDA says that per capita consumption of cow and pig meat will each increase by 1%, while consumption of chicken flesh is expected to grow by 3%. As meat consumption rises, however, at least one former industry veterinarian is saying that meat produced by raising animals on factory farms is unsafe to eat. Dr. Lester Friedlander, who worked for 10 years as a USDA meat inspector, says that profit motive and increased production line speeds make it difficult for inspectors to see potential problems. Friedlander is currently on a speaking tour through western Canada to encourage people to demand a better inspection system from the government.

"Record per Capita Meat Consumption Expected in 2005," USDA / ERS, Nov-2004
PDF File:

"Vet Says Meat Industry in US Cutting Corners," Kelowna Capital News, 11/19/04

 6. Other Items of Interest

The American Dairy Science Association in early October held a conference to discuss culling rates in US dairy herds. A report from the conference says that culling rates, or "turnover rates," have risen in the US since the 1920s, and some within the industry are suggesting that they are too high.
"ADSA Discover Conference Examines Culling Rates in Dairy Herds," American Dairy Science Association, 11/15/04

Farming of Emus has risen steadily in the US since the early 1980s when commercial breeding of the large, flightless bird first began in the country. According to the American Emu Association, Emu meat is increasingly being requested by hotels and restaurants. Emu products are also used for a variety of other purposes.
"Emus - The Farm Animal of the Future," The News Chronicle, 11/20/04

On the heels of the Australian wool industry's agreement to phase out "mulesing" of sheep by 2010, a medical manufacturer has designed a new device that may help eliminate the practice. The device, which will look like a "hand-held drill," delivers a protein to sheep that would cause them to be resistant to blowflies.
"New Device Aims to End Mulesing," ABC News, 11/16/04

A farmed animal veterinarian in Wisconsin reportedly left the employment of a local farm after more than half of the operation's 2,100 calves died due to disease and mismanagement. The same farm had also recently been cited for illegally disposing of dead animals and polluting a local waterway.
"Veterinarian Left Braum Farm After Three Months," Woodward News, 11/18/04

The Humane Society of the United States will merge with The Fund for Animals, creating the largest animal rights group in the US with an annual $96 million budget. Recently chosen HSUS chief executive Wayne Pacelle seeks to make the combined organization more "hard-hitting," and many think the group will take a stronger anti-hunting position.
"Humane Society to Merge with Fund for Animals," Scripps Howard News Service, 11/19/04

McDonalds Corporation has lost two chief executives in seven months, including the recent resignation of Charles Bell who is currently fighting colorectal cancer. McDonalds' previous CEO, James Cantalupo, died about seven months ago.
"McDonald's Names New CEO,", 11/24/04

In This Issue

  1. Farmed Turkeys: Welfare; Statistics; and Advocacy

  2. Farmed Fish: PETA's Fish Empathy Project; Toxins in Fish Flesh

  3. European Union Updates Farmed Animal Transport Regulations

  4. BSE News: No Second US Case; Texas Woman Dies of Possible CJD

  5. Consumer News: Meat Consumption Trends and Food Safety

  6. Other Items of Interest

Our Sponsors

Animal Place

Animal Welfare Trust

Farm Sanctuary

The Fund for Animals

Glaser Progress Foundation

Humane Society of the United States

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


Compiled and edited by Hedy Litke and Che Green, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.