If you believed in reincarnation, and you had to choose a type of farmed animal for your next life, and you were relying on information from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), your best bet might be beef.
The lives of other industrially-produced food critters? Not so good, says HSUS’s Farm Animal Protection Program Senior Director Paul Shapiro.
“The beef industry has a much better record on animal welfare when it comes to these types of issues than the poultry and pork industries do,” Shapiro told Animal Policy Examiner in a telephone interview. “For example in the beef industry, for the first part of these animals’ lives they typically are living out on pasture.”
However, Shapiro added, “There are some things done to these animals [beef cattle] that are very painful for them, such as hot iron branding, which is inflicting third-degree burns, or cutting their testicles out of their scrotums without a painkiller, which is obviously extraordinarily painful for these calves.”
“At the same time, though,” said Shapiro, “when you compare the treatment of cattle in the beef industry to the treatment of chickens and turkeys and pigs on our nation’s factory farms, there really isn’t much of a comparison whatsoever.”
“Just as one example in the egg industry, unlike the beef industry,” he continued, “the vast majority of the animals are confined in cages where they can barely move an inch their entire lives. These are animals who are virtually immobilized for more than a year before they are slaughtered. It really is difficult to imagine a more miserable existence.”
Listen to more of Animal Policy Examiner’s two-part audio interview with Paul Shapiro on Animal Air.
Read and listen to Animal Policy Examiner’s two-part interview with beef cattle rancher Debbie Lyons-Blythe of Blythe Angus Ranch in Kansas.
Read Animal Policy Examiner’s interview with Mercy for Animals head Nathan Runkle on ‘What’s Mother’s Day like for farmed animals?’
Read an interview with Nathan Runkle about alleged abuses of dairy calves at E6 Cattle Company in Texas.
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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris (a.k.a. Kathryn Makris) has written 18 books for major publishers and hundreds of articles for publications such as National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Petside.com, and two regional news wire services.
A cofounder of AnimalBeat.org, she holds a B.A. in Environmental Science Studies and a lifelong interest in animal issues.
Among her books are Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know about Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press), coauthored with Shelley Frost, and The Eco-Kids, a series of novels for tweens (Avon Books).
Her story “Small Change” placed as a finalist in The Bark magazine’s short fiction contest and appeared in the November 2010 issue.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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