Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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December 14, 2005 -- Number 47, Volume 5

Note to readers: This is the last issue of Farmed Animal Watch for 2005. We will return the first week of January 2006 with Volume 6, Issue 1. During 2005, Farmed Animal Watch produced 47 weekly newsletters packed with information about farmed animal welfare and related topics. We hope you find the news digest informative and useful, and we encourage you to let others know about the free publication. Please forward our sign-up link ( to colleagues and friends who may be interested in farmed animal welfare. As always, if you have any questions or comments about the newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Thank you for reading - FAW editorial team

1. McDonalds Shareholders Submit Resolution for More Humane Chicken Slaughter

Shareholders of McDonalds Corporation have submitted a new resolution requiring that all of the company's suppliers use controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) prior to slaughtering chickens. The resolution was submitted by Trillian Asset Management, a socially responsible mutual fund, along with the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA argues that CAS using an inert gas is more humane than stunning chickens using electrical baths before slaughter. The group previously submitted a similar shareholder resolution and then withdrew it after McDonalds agreed to study CAS technology and issue a public report. The company issued its report in June 2005, stating that CAS technology was too new for suppliers to fully adopt, but noting that the company will continue to investigate it. (Also see FAW 5-26).

The new shareholder resolution seeks to force the company to require CAS adoption for all of its suppliers, noting the welfare violations that occur with current stunning methods. According to PETA, the electrical stunning baths currently used in chicken slaughterhouses are inadequate and result in regular slaughter of fully conscious birds. The group Viva! USA corroborates PETA's claims, saying that in 2002 (fiscal), approximately 2.8 million "broiler" chickens were boiled alive in US facilities. The figure comes from a report issued by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for condemned chickens (see link below) and Viva! USA's follow-up conversations with agency personnel. According to FSIS, 48 million slaughtered chickens were condemned in 2002 ("condemned" means the chicken corpses were deemed unfit for human consumption).

1. "McDonalds Slammed for Cruelty," News 24, 12/8/05,,2-10-1462_1847289,00.html

2. "Chicken / Broiler Industry Media Briefing," Viva! USA, last updated Nov-2005

3. "Chickens Condemned Postmortem in USDA Inspected Establishments," USDA / FSIS, 2002

2. Respiratory Disease Causes 75% of Illnesses, 50% of Deaths for Feedlot Cows

A pair of researchers from the University of Minnesota "Beef Team" has written three articles about managing feedlots, including animal receiving, respiratory diseases, and "feedlot bloat." The article about receiving notes, "Moving cattle is a very stressful event… commingling also adds stress to already stressed animals… the combination of high stress levels and a smorgasbord of pathogens presents every feeder calf with a great opportunity to get sick." The authors note a category of particularly high risk cows who are not vaccinated and are "weaned on the truck on the way to the sale barn." The articles recommend that cow handlers reduce stress on calves by giving them more time to "get comfortable with their surroundings" upon arrival at the feedlot.

The second article in the series focuses on bovine respiratory disease (BRD). According to the authors, BRD causes about 75% of all illnesses and 50% of all deaths experienced by cows in feedlots. In one study, 72% of the feedlot cows tested "had lung lesions consistent with pneumonia," and more than half of the cases would have otherwise gone undetected. The authors suggest vaccinating and reducing stress on the animals as much as possible, but they do not discuss the systemic causes of BRD including intense animal concentration. The third article in the series covers "feedlot bloat," which is caused by the fermentation of grains in a feedlot cow's rumen (first chamber of the stomach). The authors write that the "consequences of feedlot bloat can range from a minor reduction in feed intake to sudden death by impaired respiration."

1. "Part 1: Respiratory Disease Management in the Feedlot," University of Minnesota, 10/10/05

2. "Part 2: Respiratory Disease Management in the Feedlot," University of Minnesota, 11/10/05

3. "Part 3: Respiratory Disease Management in the Feedlot," University of Minnesota, 12/8/05

3. Japan Resumes Imports of US "Beef" Despite Low Interest among Consumers

Japan has announced it will resume imports of US "beef" from slaughtered cows age 20 months or younger following intense negotiations from trade personnel. According to the US Meat Export Federation, the initial impact will be small because only 15% of US cows "ready for slaughter" currently qualify under the age restrictions. Moreover, only 10-13% of the US "beef" cow herd has records that will satisfy the demands of Japanese trade negotiators. US cow slaughterers are already planning a media and advertising campaign in Japan, where consumers appear to be highly skeptical of US beef products. Kyodo News reports that 75% of Japanese consumers are unwilling to eat beef imported from the US, while other surveys show the number as low as 25%. A majority of Japanese consumers express concern with the safety of US beef and many say they will continue to buy products from Australia or Japan instead of the US.

1. "Japan Reopens Market to US Beef,", 12/12/05 (Registration)

2. "Kyodo Survey Finds 75.2% of Consumers Unwilling to Eat US Beef," Meat Poultry, 12/6/05 (

4. Consumer News: Meat Labeling Fraud Grows in Europe; In Vitro Meat Cultivation

MEAT FRAUD: In Germany, officials have seized hundreds of tons of animal flesh in recent weeks because the products were illegally relabeled with new expiration or "sell-by" dates. Companies in Germany, Ireland, and Denmark are being investigated for fraudulent meat packaging involving products from slaughtered pigs, turkeys, chickens and other animals. In Germany, the government has appointed a special team of prosecutors and prepared a 10-point plan to deal with the growing problem of meat re-labeling.

IN VITRO: New York Times Magazine lists among the best ideas of 2005 the development of in vitro or "cultured" meat that could one day eliminate animal farming. (Also see FAW 5-27). According to the article, "Scientists at NASA and at several Dutch universities have been developing the technology since 2001, and in a few years' time there may be a lab-grown meat ready to market as sausages or patties." The technology is currently too expensive for large-scale in vitro meat production, but it has the potential to make obsolete the raising and slaughtering of animals for food.

1. "Meat Fraud Rising in EU,", 12/1/05 (Registration)

2. "In Vitro Meat," New York Times Magazine, 12/11/05 (Registration)

5. Other Items of Interest

"A Potential Influenza Pandemic: Possible Macroeconomic Effects and Policy Issues," Congressional Budget Office, 12/8/05
A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says a pandemic generated by avian influenza could infect 90 million people and kill up to 2 million in the US alone. This would represent the "severe" pandemic scenario, one of only two scenarios considered in the report. The other, "mild pandemic" scenario would involve infection of about 75 million US residents and an estimated 100,000 deaths.
PDF file (128k):

"A Virus Stalks the Henhouse," Los Angeles Times, 12/13/05
Avian influenza continues to concern owners and operators of concentrated US chicken farms in California and elsewhere, prompting more investment in biosecurity. According to a recent LA Times article, "More than 80% of the state's (California's) $2.5-billion poultry and egg industry is crowded into a strip of the Central Valley." The article also discusses southern California's history with the Exotic Newcastle Disease outbreak in late 2002.,0,5028837.story?coll=ktla-news-1

Event: "Fifth Animal Welfare Summit Dates Announced," Animal Agriculture Alliance, 11/3/05
March 20-22, 2006, Arlington, Virginia, USA
The Animal Agriculture Alliance trade group will host its fifth annual stakeholder summit in March 2006, featuring the theme "Animal Welfare, Antibiotics and Activism: Leadership, Action and Solutions to Challenging Issues." The summit's topics involve farmed animal welfare, including recent advances and regulatory initiatives. However, the issues are approached through the perspective of media and consumer relations and monitoring advocates and "terror" activities. (

"USDA Launches Redesigned Agricultural Statistics Web Site," USDA / NASS, 12/5/05
The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new version of its statistical website, including a reorganization of US farming data with the category "Livestock and Animals." The website provides quick access to historical and summary statistics, charts, and downloads for all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the US.

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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.