We live in a world of animal lovers: most people would say they like animals and almost everyone agrees that cruelty to animals is wrong. Yet most people eat meat.
How can it be that we call ourselves animal lovers on the one hand and slaughter 58 million pigs, 630 million chickens and 3.2 million cattle in Germany every year on the other? If you include turkeys, ducks, geese and rabbits, in Germany alone over a billion land creatures are slaughtered annually for meat production.
And all these animals are only killed because we, the consumers, want to eat schnitzel, burgers, chicken wings, salami and other meat and sausage products. How can we still call ourselves animal lovers? Or should we not rather call ourselves pet lovers? Because with farm animals the animal love stops with most.
Of these so-called “farm animals”, 95 percent of cattle, 97 percent of chickens and 99 percent of pigs live in “intensive animal husbandry”. This means that hundreds or even thousands of them are crammed together in huge halls or dark stables on slatted floors, in cages or on their own excrement.
Pigs are often castrated without anesthesia. Their canines are ground off and their curly tails are cut off, also without anaesthesia. In intensive animal husbandry, the pigs have no stimulation whatsoever and very little space. Therefore, they start to eat each other’s tails or ears at some point. How it can look like in pig breeding, you can see in the following video:
Chickens are frequently shortened the beaks in the mass-animal-attitude. This beak shortening is extremely painful, since the beak is drawn through densely with nerves. This happens because at some point they start picking at each other, which is because, by default, a chicken only has a surface area as large as one and a half DINA-4 sheets. In conventional floor housing, up to 6,000 animals are kept in one barn, distributed over several floors. For the animals this often means stress, which can express itself also in behavior disturbances such as cannibalism and feather pecking. The weaker chickens die or suffer severe injuries.
Cannibalism and Feather Pecking
Furthermore, hens kept on the floor have a lack on pursuit, as they do not have a run in the green. The risk of disease is also higher in large farms. Antibiotics are only used if animals in the stable are ill and the veterinarian recommends it. As standard, however, the medication must be administered prophylactically to all chickens in the barn. You can see what the conditions in such a mast system look like in the following video.
Tethering of Cattle and Dairy Cows
Calves in intensive care are chemically etched or burnt out of the horn base. In addition, tethering is used in many stables, especially on smaller farms. This means that the cattle are tied to one and the same place all their lives and have virtually no freedom of movement. This practice is legal and is even run by organic farms. Here is a short report to you:
Mutilations are Legal
All these listed mutilations are legal and, as already mentioned, often happen without anaesthesia. Also the forms of posture you can see in the videos are completely legal and are no exception. As already mentioned above, more than 95% of the animals live in such mass animal husbandry.
Broiler Chickens only Become 42 Days Old
In addition, the animals are still very young when they are slaughtered. Lambs are only a few months old. Some calves are killed after just one week. Cattle after 18 months. Cattle can live up to 20 years. Pigs are slaughtered at the age of 6 months, although they can become 12 years old. And our broiler chickens live just 42 days, although chickens can live up to 8 years. You can see what such a 42-day life looks like in the following video:
Antibiotic-resistant Germs in Meat
In addition, antibiotics and other medicines are often administered to animals to help them survive the disease pressure and constant stress of mass husbandry. Every year, well over 1,000 tons of antibiotics are fed to farm animals in Germany. That is also a big problem for us humans, because there are thereby ever more antibiotic-resistent germs. For example, 56 percent of chickens from discount stores are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant germs. Those who become infected with them, can no longer take drugs against it. In Germany alone, these germs kill 30,000 people every year.
Is Organic Meat Better?
Many people choose organic meat based on the above facts. But organic is actually only minimally better. No genetically modified animal feed, pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are permitted on an organic farm. The animals therefore absorb far fewer pesticides. Growth-promoting substances are also prohibited. They also have about 1/3 more space. But animals kept organically are not necessarily happier. Organic husbandry does not mean that the animals only live in small groups. According to the EU Organic Regulation, for example, up to 3,000 chickens may be kept in a stable. This is often circumvented in practice, by accommodating several herds with in each case 3,000 animals separated by dividing walls in a stable. Organic producers also have to make a profit, and this is easier with large systems. In the following video you can see a comparison of conventional and organic husbandry:
In addition, there are no organic slaughterhouses. All animals – including those from organic farming – end up in the same slaughterhouses and are cruelly killed in the same way.
Anaesthesia Fails in Many Cases
There is often a lot of time pressure in the slaughterhouses and in many cases anaesthesia fails. The animals are therefore fully conscious when their throats are cut and they are hung up to bleed out. Soko Tierschutz has already uncovered several times how horrible it can sometimes be in slaughterhouses.
I know these pictures are hard to watch. So please ask yourselves: Is it all worth it, just for a piece of meat on your plate?
If you want to learn more about the backgrounds of veganism, take a look at the other articles I’ve written on Why Vegan?