Innovative Behaviour in Fish: Atlantic Cod Can Learn to Use an External Tag to Manipulate a Self-FeederSubmitted on Jul 24, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
This report describes an unexpected innovation by three Atlantic cod during a Swedish experiment to determine which members of a group of fishes would bite a release lever to produce food. The three fish (from two different experimental groups) got an identifying bead that was attached to their top fin caught on the release line for the food. Over time, they stopped reacting as if threatened and refined their technique. By the end of the experiment, they were able to access the food much more quickly using the bead method, and preferred it to the biting technique.
This philosophical essay draws a distinction between harm to animals inflicted by abusive individuals on factory farms, and harm inherent in the industrial farming system. The author observes that animal advocates often find themselves on the defensive when debates over factory farming are reframed by skeptics as debates over the good character of farmers. He defines and provides examples of other systemic categories of harm that animal advocates can use to shift the burden of justifying factory farming to those who are skeptical about its harmfulness.
Dead or Alive? Comparing Costs and Benefits of Lethal and Non-Lethal Human–Wildlife Conflict Mitigation on Livestock FarmsSubmitted on Jul 17, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Wildlife and Exotics
This study compared lethal versus non-lethal methods of predator control (of jackals, caracals and leopards) on 11 South African livestock farms over a 3-year period. Non-lethal methods included guardian dogs, guardian alpacas, and mesh collars to prevent fatal throat bites. Non-lethal control on average was cheaper and as effective or better at reducing losses compared to lethal controls. More than 3/4 of the participating farmers continued to use non-lethal controls only, or in combination with lethal controls, at their own cost, after the study.
This study calculated the impact on human health, regional agriculture, and the environment of a 50% reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy products in the EU, replaced by grains. Greenhouse gases would be reduced 25-40%, the use of imported soy meal would drop by 75%, and the EU would become a major grain exporter. Human health would benefit due to reduced cardiovascular disease, among other benefits. Meat and dairy production have high environmental footprints, and diet is an important factor in the reduction of greenhouse gases.
This report summarizes results from Year 7 of the Animal Tracker, an annual survey of U.S. adults regarding their attitudes and behavior toward animals. In summary, the most recent survey continues to show strong support for humane education and many other animal advocacy tactics. However, there appears to be a slight erosion in this support compared with survey results from 2011 and 2008 and fewer people are engaging in animal-friendly behavior compared with previous years.
This Netherlands study tested whether social support can reduce stress for pigs, and further, whether pigs with more active/proactive and more passive/reactive personality styles react differently. Several physiological and behavioral stress indicators were measured before, during, and after the stress situation, with and without the presence of an adult pig with whom the test subjects had been previously housed. The more reactive pigs showed more stress reduction benefit from social support. Gender may have impacted the results, and should be considered in future studies.
Continuing our discussion of why campaign targeting is important, HRC co-founder and Executive Director Che Green explores how decision fatigue can impact responses. He also considers whether simplification of choice should be applied to animal advocacy as a whole.
The goal of this study was to measure the impact of reading an engaging book with a message upon the attitudes of college students soon after their exposure to the material, compared to a year later. Students who had read the book were significantly more aligned with the author's views on several food-related issues than students who had not, although the degree of agreement declined after a year on most issues. The possible impact of multiple, widely publicized food safety scares before and during the study period was not addressed.
Childhood Pet Ownership, Attachment to Pets, and Subsequent Meat Avoidance. The Mediating Role of Empathy Toward AnimalsSubmitted on Jun 25, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Companion Animals | Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Vegetarianism and Veganism
This online survey studied whether close childhood relationships with a companion animal affected adult meat-eating behavior and justifications. There was a correlation between strong childhood attachment to a companion animal and empathy towards animals, but the childhood experiences in themselves did not not translate into reduced consumption of animals as food. Higher empathy did, however, change meat-eating justification strategies.
This essay examines how the oxymoron "factory farm" became conceivable. The anthropocentric presumption of human dominion bridged the transition from religious-based to science-based philosophies, characterizing non-human nature as an unfeeling, unknowing mechanism. Marx described how the capitalist labor system alienated humans from their "species-being" (gattungswesen). The author proposes that the "Big MAC" of materialism, anthropocentrism and capitalism converge in their prohibition of animals from being their own entities with their own interests and identities.
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