Factory farming subjects animals to so many shocking and outrageous cruelties that it’s hard to imagine there could be one more we haven’t thought of. Sadly, we’ve been proven wrong. In Guelph, Ontario, Canada, pigs can plummet into their own waste and die.
For reasons not yet determined, on May 6, 2014, the floor of a barn housing 2,500 pigs collapsed around 9 p.m. It was not just any floor, though. Reports describe it as an eight-foot suspended platform that held the pigs above a “liquid manure holding tank.”
When the floor gave way, all 2,500 pigs were flung down those eight feet into the tank below and onto one another. The fall killed many outright, say reports, but hundreds of others were stuck in the tank with the liquid feces.
Can you imagine the scene? The frantic squealing, the pigs climbing over one another, covered in waste, fighting for their lives and scared out of their wits?
“Efforts were made by those on scene, including local farmers and emergency services, to save as many pigs as possible,” a police press release said. Rescue efforts continued into the afternoon of May 7.
All told, a heartbreaking 2,000 pigs died in that manure tank. Only 500 could be rescued. The concrete 60- by 300-foot barn was reportedly only a year old, so this wasn’t a matter of old equipment. No one knows why the suspended floor gave way. Two workers in the barn at the time escaped injury.
It‘s Time to Do Away With Factory Farms
Is there any indignity we won’t inflict upon pigs to feed humankind’s apparently insatiable desire for bacon? Must they die frightened, injured and flailing about in their own waste? This situation is just one more in an endless parade of horribles we impose on the animals we call “livestock.”
Consider these sad and cruel realities caused by intensive industrialized factory farming:
- In the egg industry, male chicks are unneeded and so they are either thrown away or ground up alive by the millions. Female chicks are “debeaked” which means their beaks are “trimmed” off using a heated blade. If you have the stomach to watch, you can see debeaking here, and see chicks being ground up here.
- In the dairy industry, male calves are unneeded. They are taken from their mothers, often immediately after birth, housed in cramped boxes in which they cannot freely move, and end up mere weeks later as veal.
- Milk doesn’t just happen. Cows must be kept constantly pregnant to keep the milk supply flowing. If you’re against veal but drink milk and eat cheese, be aware that you’re still directly supporting the industry that makes veal possible.
- In the pork industry, pregnant sows are confined to gestation crates in which they cannot even turn around. It’s the rough equivalent of a human being forced to live endlessly in a phone booth or an airplane seat.
- Soon after birth, piglets‘ tails are docked, their teeth are cut down with pliers, and males are castrated. Painkillers? No, of course not.
- Cows sent to slaughter sometimes do not die after being shot by a captive-bolt gun. That means they survive what comes next — they’re hung by one leg, their throats are cut, their skin is ripped off and their insides are gutted. Don’t believe it? The Washington Post did. Read this. Afraid to read it all? Here’s a quote:
“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive,” IBP veteran Fuentes, the worker who was injured while working on live cattle, said in an affidavit. “The cows can get seven minutes down the line and still be alive. I’ve been in the side-puller where they’re still alive. All the hide is stripped out down the neck there.”
- Chickens and turkeys raised for meat are bred and fed for abnormally rapid growth. Chickens, for example, are 300 percent larger today than they were in 1960. They grow so large so fast that their little legs sometimes cannot hold them up. They are crammed into tight quarters or cramped cages, often not seeing the sun or the outdoors. Chickens sometimes have only the space the size of an iPad or a sheet of paper to themselves inside a cage full of other chickens. Nice life, isn’t it?
There are endless examples of the inhumanity of modern factory farming. These are just a few of the highlights. We haven’t even gotten to the environmental impacts yet — the pollution, the fact that half of the world’s grain supply goes to feed livestock rather than people, and so much more.
If the world doesn’t wake up to the fact that factory farming is both cruel and ill-considered, we will have a monumental problem on our hands. In fact, we already do.
Photo credit (all images): Thinkstock