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Farming Practices

 

Henry Bergh, the Unlikely Champion of Animals

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What prompted this son of wealth, with little history of persistent effort or particular accomplishments, to suddenly become a hands-on, full-time animal advocate when he was well into his 50s? A lot of people have wondered, including those who knew him at the time. The mystery is intensified when we read that the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals didn’t actually like animals!


A Closer Look at the FDA Antibiotic Retail Meat Report

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This article from Supermarket News discusses the 2011 Retail Meat Report from the Food and Drug Administration, released in early 2013. Salmonella that is resistant to at least one of the three major antibiotic drug groups is present in a significant percentage of poultry and beef. Farmers have not responded to the FDA's 2010 request to voluntarily reduce the use of antibiotics, instead increasing their antibiotic purchases in 2011.



Additional Foraging Elements Reduce Abnormal Behaviour – Fur-Chewing and Stereotypic Behaviour – in Farmed Mink (Neovison vison)

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A white mink looks out through the wire grid of a dirty cageThe authors of this Danish study theorized that hunting and chewing behaviors are inherent to minks, and are insufficiently expressed in a farm environment, leading to undesirable stress-related behaviors. They provided chewing ropes, chewier feed, both, or neither to 4 groups of 50 minks each. Fur-chewing was reduced by either chewing ropes or chewier feed. Pacing was reduced only by chewier feed. The authors suggest several possible reasons for these results and call for further research to better understand mink behavior and needs.


United States v. Stevens: Win, Loss, or Draw for Animals?

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law book with scales of justice and gavel In 1999, a law against depictions of animal cruelty was enacted to criminalize fetish videos of women trampling small animals to death ("crush videos"). When it was applied in a case of dog-fighting videos (U.S. v. Stevens), the law was struck down for being overly broad, and a narrower law was enacted. The author analyzes underlying legal issues, especially whether animal protection can override free speech rights. Since the new law specifies a state interest in extreme cases of animal cruelty, the author argues that animal protection law was ultimately advanced due to the Stevens case, even though the conviction was thrown out.

Attitudes of Canadian Citizens Toward Farm Animal Welfare: A Qualitative Study

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This study was conducted to lay groundwork for constructive collaboration on animal welfare between farm animal producers and non-producers. Participants were intensively interviewed about their ideals, conceptions and values about farm animal living conditions. Most preferred an environment that allowed animals to move freely and behave normally, and for animals to be handled with respect and without pain. Many also were sympathetic to economic pressures on farmers, felt that awareness of current farming practices was inadequate, and believed consumers undervalue the sacrifice of animal lives because animal food products are under-priced.

Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia

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Despite the fact that the majority of East Asians are lactose intolerant, and that cows and feed-grains developed elsewhere do poorly in the tropics of south and southeastern Asia, Western corporate investors are doing their best to promote "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" (CAFOs) to Asian governments as cleaner, faster and cheaper than traditional methods of farming. This policy paper examines the displacement of local economies, environmental impacts, health hazards, and animal welfare concerns raised by the rapid rise of dairy factory farming in Asia, and proposes a number of policy points through which governments may address these issues.

Nonhuman Animal Rights, Alternative Food Systems, and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

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In response to consumer concern about treatment of animals in the food industry, an increasing range of ‘humanely produced’ animal products have become available, often with ‘humane certified’ labels approved by animal advocacy groups. This paper looks at the issue from an abolitionist viewpoint and proposes that it commodifies ‘humaneness’ and does not benefit animals as the narrative implies. The author argues that not only do welfare problems persist even within humane certified operations, but also that ‘higher welfare’ labels make people feel more comfortable about consuming animal products, and thus may incentivize their consumption and help entrench morally problematic systems.

The involvement of the professionalized animal welfare movement in advocating these reforms and collaborating with industry on values-based labeling is criticized for legitimizing the continued exploitation of animals, while failing to address the underlying oppressive structures that allow animals to be viewed as commodities in the first place. The author suggests that the professionalization of animal advocacy groups often entails a compromise of movement goals and leads to them working to reform the structure rather than dismantle it. As a result, the fundamental moral issue of exploiting and killing other animals remains largely unexamined. As an alternative to this, abolitionism calls for a rejection of the property-status of animals, a rejection of speciesism and equal consideration for animals, with veganism as a necessary baseline. The abolitionist framework opposes the promotion of more ‘humane’ systems of animal production, arguing that it is inconsistent to strive for an end to animal suffering while continuing to consume them, and advocates change through a radical grassroots vegan movement.

Eating Animals at the Zoo

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This paper critiques the conflicting conceptualizations of animal welfare that are expressed by zoos and aquaria when they serve animal products at onsite restaurants. The authors begin by surveying the goals and values of in the U.S. and E.U., and find that animal welfare is an important value of most zoos and aquaria, even when it is not made explicit. When they examined the online menus of 55 zoos, all were based on meat, with few vegetarian or vegan options, and most meat came from conventionally (factory) farmed sources. Meat provided to zoo animals was also from conventionally farmed sources, and animals purchased as live food for zoo animals were handled with little concern for their welfare. The authors conclude that these practices are inconsistent with the animal welfare mission of zoos and aquaria, and call upon them to apply animal welfare values to all animals that come within the sphere of their operations.

The Interrelations of Good Welfare Indicators Assessed in Working Horses and their Relationships with the Type of Work

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This study assessed the well-being of 697 working horses in Romania. The horses ranged in age from 2 years old to more than 15 years old, and included mares, stallions and geldings. The assessments were conducted while the horses were working, and welfare indicators were recorded only in positive terms (i.e., as the presence of positive indicators for welfare, or the absence of negative indicators) to reduce defensiveness and encourage better care behaviors among guardians. Most horses responded with more friendliness to the unfamiliar assessor than to their guardian. The horses were generally well fed (the study was conducted at a time of year with high food availability and decreased work). Most horses did not receive adequate water or unfettered exercise, and their guardians seemed unaware of their needs in these and other respects. Performing the heaviest work correlated with lower welfare assessment scores.

Current Trends in the US Egg Industry

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This article from the WorldPoultry website summarizes recent trends in US egg production and demonstrates the sheer scale of the industry. During 2013, around 6.6 billion dozen eggs were produced, and by the end of 2014 there are expected to be 292 million hens in the USA, the vast majority in huge flocks of over 30,000. Per capita US annual consumption in 2013 is estimated at 250.7 eggs per person. The article also outlines the implications for Californian farmers of the forthcoming Prop #2 regulations, due to come into effect in January 2015, which require conventional cages to be converted to enriched colony systems.

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