Last night I was having a browse through my twitter feed when I saw an article that so shocked me that I couldn’t believe it was true. As a result I sent a message to the poster who sent me a link to a video. The video was in French so I didn’t understand much but what I saw sent me off to do some research today.
What I found has horrified me so much that at first I thought I would be unable to write about it. having thought it over I think I must share what I found but be warned it is horrible almost beyond belief.
In recent years I have become increasingly worried about what we eat. Stories about genetically modified crops, the force feeding of livestock, animals kept in cages so small they cannot turn around, animals being fed growth hormones etc to get them ready for the table quicker and many other examples of inhumane treatment of animals in the food industry has horrified me. I really believe that these practices are responsible for the rise in cancers and other diseases in the general population.
January saw the implementation of new laws in California that mandated more room for egg laying chickens. Sadly this does nothing for the chickens born in hatcheries for the egg laying market. At a few days old the chicks are sexed, the females are boxed up to be sent to egg farms. The males are thrown onto a conveyor belt and fed live into grinding machines. Yes they are fed ALIVE into grinding machines.
This practice is widespread and over 200 million male chicks are killed in this way in the USA alone every year. There is no market for the male chickens as they do not grow fast enough for the meat market. The ground up chicks are used as animal food, primarily in dog and cat food.
The video is from 2009 but the practice is legal and is still happening.
Just last months an animal rights group in California released a disturbing video of laying hens at a farm in Northern California that supplies eggs to Whole Foods and Organic Valley, among other retailers and distributors.
Admittedly the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere were probably acting illegally. However they contended that the hens’ treatment was inhumane and said it planned to protest this weekend at Whole Foods stores in a number of American cities.
The hens in the video belong to Petaluma Farms, whose owners assert that the group is distorting and exaggerating the conditions under which its organic and conventional eggs are raised and sold under the brands Judy’s Family Farm and Rock Island. It also supplies eggs sold by Whole Foods stores in Northern California under the grocer’s 365 label, and it accounts for more than 4 percent of the eggs sold by Organic Valley.
Besides the conditions these animals are kept in what worries me most is that the farm in question is certified as organic birds and the farm has also met the standards of Certified Humane, an animal welfare certification program operated by the nonprofit group Humane Farm Animal Care.
These are the chickens that we are paying premium prices for as they are certified organic. The conditions are such that the chickens often turn to cannibalism and feather pecking, behaviours that are common when large numbers of chickens are confined in close quarters.
To guard against this the hens are debeaked. They go to the debeaking machine, which burns off the beak with a laser to prevent hens from pecking one another. In a normal life, the chicks would be sheltered and comforted by their mother’s wings for the first part of their life. The video shows the chicks hanging by their beak from the machine as they squirm and flail about.
If this is how animals certified as organic are treated what on earth must life be like for those raised conventionally. I don’t know about you but that is something I don’t even want to contemplate!