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Factory Farms

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Egg Farmers To Stop Grinding Up Male Chicks. What U.S. Poultry Producers Do Not Want You to Know About Bird Flu. Photo Credit: Enrico Jose Once again, bird flu is back in the U.S.

What U.S. Poultry Producers Do Not Want You to Know About Bird Flu

From 2014 through mid-2015, 48 million chickens and turkeys were killed in the U.S. to prevent the disease’s spread and protect famer’s profits. Factory farmers routinely fight to keep images of how poultry are raised out of public view, so consumers do not lose their appetites and will continue eating their products. Industrial farmers also fight hard to keep images of how chickens and turkeys are “euthanized” out of the public view. It is easy to see why. "Ventilation shutdown” is also used to kill healthy birds and prevent the spread of the flu. Factory farmers like to blame bird flu on “migratory birds,” denying that high-volume production methods allow the spread of the disease. Moreover, we the taxpayers compensate factory farmers for their self-induced losses and appalling farm practices.

The only interaction most people have with poultry production is the prices they pay at the grocery store. Processing Chickens. Today, major chicken buyers are mandating that their suppliers address the horrors I saw first-hand in the slaughterhouse.

Processing Chickens

I used to wake up at 4:30am for the morning shift at the slaughterhouse. It was fall and the chill in the air matched the emptiness of the roads that were surrounded by rural Maryland’s forests and tributaries feeding into the Chesapeake Bay. Ag-Gag Laws. A federal judge has struck down Idaho’s so-called “ag-gag” law that prohibited the recording of animal abuses on farms.

Ag-Gag Laws

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled (pdf) this week that the law—one of eight adopted in the country—was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment. The legislature passed the law, which was drafted by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, last year after an animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, produced an undercover video of the Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen that showed workers abusing cows. The video showed cows being dragged by tractors, workers jumping on cows and workers beating them. Winmill tossed out the law, saying it criminalized all employment-based undercover investigations as well as investigative journalism, whistleblowing by employees, or “other expository efforts that entail images or sounds.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff To Learn More: Idaho's Ag-Gag Law Ruled Unconstitutional (by Philip A. Animal Legal Defense Fund, et al., v. What’s Wrong With Factory Farms? - Factory Farm Map. Over the last two decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising animals for food have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in tightly packed facilities.

What’s Wrong With Factory Farms? - Factory Farm Map

Factory farms produce millions of gallons of manure that can spill into waterways from leaking storage lagoons or fields where manure is over-applied to soil. Manure generates hazardous air pollutants and contains contaminants that can endanger human health. Neighbors of factory farms, as well as the workers in them, often suffer intensely from overwhelming odors and related headaches, nausea and other long-term health effects.

What Is a Factory Farm? Beef cattle: 500 head on feed (feedlot) Dairy: 500 cows. Cow Feed Lots. Dead Calf. "Downer" Cow. Factory Farm Drones. “The pigs were glowing deep gold”: The amazing experience that ended my life as a pig farmer. As a child and through my teens and 20s my meat eating was fast, copious—gluttonous even—and absolutely thoughtless, totally reflexive.

“The pigs were glowing deep gold”: The amazing experience that ended my life as a pig farmer

Growing up in a suburb of Syracuse, New York, around cats, dogs and mobs of grey squirrels, I had only the vaguest, most abstract notion — when I had any notion at all — of a connection between the delectable hamburger patty on my Burger King Whopper and the cow or cows it had once been, or between the crisp, golden, expertly and scientifically flavored fleshy bits of the mountain of Chicken McNuggets that I plowed through with abandon over the years and real, living chickens. Pork's Dark Side. Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pork processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year.

Pork's Dark Side

That's a number worth considering. A slaughter-weight hog is fifty percent heavier than a person. Pork Factory. Pig Crates. Gestation Crates. Illegal Pain. Not a lot of people know this, but in most cases it's actually illegal for cows and pigs to feel pain when they're slaughtered.

Illegal Pain

In 1958, Congress passed the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, which set slaughter requirements for all meat producers supplying the federal government. The similarly named Humane Methods of Slaughter Act 1978 (HMSA or Humane Slaughter Act) expanded the requirements to all federally inspected slaughter establishments; since slaughterhouses have to pass federal inspection to sell meat across state lines, that subjected almost all US meat production to humane slaughter regulation. The Humane Slaughter Act specifically requires that cows and pigs be "rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut. " The problem?