Like most of the goods in this country, our meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are now being mass produced. Old McDonald’s Farm has been replaced by large confinement facilities that produce a year-round supply of meat, chickens, eggs, and dairy products at a reasonable price.
Animal diets are designed to boost productivity and lower costs
Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredient is grain, which is kept at artificially low prices by government intervention. To further cut costs, the feed may contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale cookies, poultry manure, chicken feathers, bubble gum, and restaurant waste. Until 1997, cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying cause of “mad cow disease.”
Switching from natural diet of grasses to grains
Few people realize that a high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants–cud-chewing animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs–not starchy, low-fiber grain. When cattle are switched from pasture to grain, for example, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, these animals are given chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots, bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with disease-resistant bacteria, there are few drugs available to treat them.