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Colorado Springs Vegan Events Message Board › The Dirty Six: The Worst Practices in Agribusiness

The Dirty Six: The Worst Practices in Agribusiness

user 7165713
Colorado Springs, CO
Post #: 87
This info is in the book "Food Inc" and also on the Humane Society of the United States website.­

The Dirty Six: The Worst Practices in Agribusiness.

In just one hour in the United States, more than one million land animals are killed for food. Before their slaughter, most of these farm animals—nearly 10 billion each year—endure lives of abuse with virtually no legal protection at all. Considering this staggering figure, the mistreatment of farm animals is among the gravest animal welfare problems in the nation. Instead of being recognized as the social, intelligent individuals they are, chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, and other animals are treated as mere meat-, egg-, and milk-production units and denied expression of many natural behaviors. And six standard agribusiness practices are the most egregious of all.

1. Battery Cages

In the United States, approximately 95% of egg-laying hens are intensively confined in tiny, barren "battery cages"—wire enclosures stacked several tiers high, extending down long rows inside windowless warehouses. The cages offer less space per hen than the area of a single sheet of paper. Severely restricted inside the barren cages, the birds are unable to engage in nearly any of their natural habits, including nesting, perching, walking, dust bathing, foraging, or even spreading their wings.

While many countries are banning the abusive battery cage system, U.S. egg producers still overcrowd about 300 million hens in these cruel enclosures.

2. Fast Growth of Birds

More than nine out of ten land animals killed for human consumption in the United States are chickens raised for meat—called “broilers” by the industry. About nine billion of these birds are slaughtered every year. According to poultry welfare expert Ian Duncan, Ph.D., "Without a doubt, the biggest welfare problems for meat birds are those associated with fast growth." The chicken industry's selective breeding for fast-growing animals and use of growth-promoting antibiotics have produced birds whose bodies struggle to function and are on the verge of structural collapse. To put this growth rate into perspective, the University of Arkansas reports that if humans grew as fast as today’s chickens, we'd weigh 349 pounds by our second birthday.

Consequently, 90 percent of chickens raised for meat have detectable leg problems and structural deformities, and more than 25 percent suffer from chronic pain as a result of bone disease.

3. Forced Feeding for Foie Gras

French for "fatty liver," the delicacy known as paté de foie gras is produced from the grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose. Two to three times daily for several weeks, birds raised for foie gras are force-fed enormous quantities of food through a long pipe thrust down their throats into their stomachs. This deliberate overfeeding causes the birds' livers to swell as much as 10 times their normal size, seriously impairing liver function, expanding their abdomens, and making movements as simple as standing or walking difficult and painful. Several European countries have banned the force-feeding of birds for foie gras, and the state of California is phasing it out. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the "production of fatty liver for foie gras . . . raises serious animal welfare issues and it is not a practice that is condoned by FAO."

4. Gestation Crates and Veal Crates

During their four-month pregnancies, 60 to 70 percent of female pigs, or sows, in the United States are kept in desolate "gestation crates"—individual metal stalls so small and narrow the animals can't even turn around or move more than a step forward or backward. The state of Florida and the European Union (EU) have already begun phasing out the use of gestation crates because of their inherent cruelty, yet these inhumane enclosures are still the normal agribusiness practice of most U.S. pork producers.

Similarly, most calves raised for veal are confined in restrictive crates—generally chained by the neck—that also prohibit them from turning around. The frustration of natural behaviors takes an enormous mental and physical toll on the animals. As with gestation crates for pregnant pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens, veal crates are widely known for their abusive nature and are being phased out in the EU but are still in use in the United States.

5. Long-Distance Transport

Billions of farm animals endure the rigors of transport each year in the United States, with millions of pigs, cows, and "spent" egg-laying hens traveling across the country. Overcrowded onto trucks that do not provide any protection from temperature extremes, animals travel long distances without food, water, or rest. The conditions are so stressful that in-transit death is considered common.

6. Electric Stunning of Birds

At the slaughter plant, birds are moved off trucks, dumped from transport crates onto conveyors, and hung upside down by their legs in shackles. Their heads pass through electrified baths of water, intended to immobilize them before their throats are slit. From beginning to end, the entire process is filled with pain and suffering.

Federal regulations do not require that chickens, turkeys, and other birds be rendered insensible to pain before they are slaughtered. The shackling of the birds causes incredible pain in the animals, many of whom already suffer leg disorders or broken bones, and electric stunning has been found to be ineffective in consistently inducing unconsciousness.

You Can Help

1. Lend your voice to help protect farm animals from suffering. The HSUS works on a number of issues, including encouraging producers to phase out the Dirty Six. Join us today.

2. Ask your local grocers not to buy animal products produced through these means. For example, encourage your neighborhood market to sell eggs only from uncaged birds.

3. Don't support the cruelties endured by farm animals—follow the Three Rs:

» Refine your diet by eliminating the most abusive animal products

» Reduce your consumption of animal products

» Replace the animal products in your diet with vegetarian options

Need help getting started? Visit for more information on how you can help farm animals when you eat, including delicious recipes, tips on incorporating more animal-free meals into your diet, shopping list suggestions, and much more. And for more information on the lives of farm animals, visit
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