Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eliminating the Suffering of Chickens Bred for Meat

Eliminating the Suffering of Chickens Bred for Meat
One Green Planet
Posted on February 22, 2013 by Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns
“The question has been asked whether the suffering of industrially-raised chickens could be scientifically eliminated. What if scientists could create chickens and other farmed animals whose ‘adjustment’ to pathogenicity consisted in their inability to experience their own existence?” Please read this entire blog & circulate. Appreciative comments on One Green Planet directly following this article are welcome and – appreciated.

Eliminating the Suffering of Chickens Bred for Meat By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns
"The misery of egg-laying birds has been well-documented, but what about the life of chickens bred for eating?" Andrew Purvis, "Pecking Order," The Guardian, Sept. 23, 2006.
Chickens are the largest number of land animals bred specifically for human consumption. Globally, more than 40 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for meat out of an estimated 65 billion animals killed annually for this purpose. Nine billion chickens die in the United States alone each year. Approximately 5 billion egg-laying hens are in battery cages throughout the world, many of them in production complexes holding a million or more birds.
Despite the disparity in numbers, battery-caged hens have received much more attention to their plight than chickens bred for meat have received. One reason, I believe, is that the suffering of egg-laying hens in battery cages is much more dramatically apparent to most people than the suffering of chickens in broiler sheds. Hens crammed together in battery cages allow an onlooker to distinguish a few hens out of thousands, and images of their suffering and frustration, their entanglement in wires and beating of their wings against cage bars, disturb even people who are unfamiliar with chickens. By contrast, chickens bred for meat are not raised in cages, although this could change by the end of the twenty-first century.
Chickens bred for meat are raised to six weeks old on floors in long low sheds the size of football fields, where they appear in their first week of life as thousands of indistinguishable yellow chicks, eating, drinking, and mixing with the sawdust and wood chips. In the weeks that follow, their weight multiplies many times over until, sitting heavily and inert in layers of excrement, lame and in pain, they appear to a person standing in the doorway of the stench-filled shed like lumps of dough stretching into the dark.
more chickens-l
Photo: David Harp
My own acquaintance with "broiler" chickens began in the mid-1980s when my husband and I rented a house on a piece of land that included a backyard chicken shed in Maryland. One day in June about a hundred young chickens appeared in the shed. A few weeks later the chickens were huge. I knew little about chickens at the time, but I was impressed by how crippled they were.
The chicken industry tells the public that thanks to research, better management, diet and other improvements, poultry diseases have been practically eliminated. However, industry publications and my own experience tell a totally different story. A big part of this story concerns what has been done to chickens genetically to create a heavy, fast-growing bird, falsely promoted to consumers as "healthy," even though poultry is considered the most common cause of foodborne illness in consumer households.
Chickens bred for meat have been rendered ill and unfit as a result of genetic manipulation, unwholesome diets, drugs, antibiotics, and the toxic air and bedding in the sheds where they live in almost complete darkness. Their bodies are abnormal. As I wrote in my book Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry, "When you pick up a chicken on the road who has fallen off a truck on the way to slaughter, the huge white bird with the little peeping voice and baby blue eyes feels like liquid cement."
Even if you rescue a chicken from a poultry shed at one day old, the pathologies built into the bird will emerge in the form of cardiovascular disease, crippled joints, and an unnatural gait. The breast muscle grows large and pendulous, and excess fat squeezes the internal organs, impairing the bird's ability to breathe. Respiratory distress is innate in these birds. In the 1970s, a chicken farmer wrote, ironically, about the new type of chicken then being bred, that "the sign of a good meat flock is the number of birds dying from heart attacks." This remains true today.
The chicken industry tells the public that the "physical welfare" of chickens is very important to the industry, and that economic profitability cannot be achieved without careful attention to welfare. But that is not how the system actually works. Chickens bred for meat do not balloon out of all proportion in their infancy because they are content and well-cared for, but because they are artificially manipulated through genetics and management techniques to produce this outcome. In addition, they are slaughtered as babies, before diseases and death have decimated the flocks as they would otherwise do, even with all the drugs.
The question has been asked whether the suffering of industrially-raised chickens could be scientifically eliminated. What if scientists could create chickens and other farmed animals whose "adjustment" to pathogenicity consisted in their inability to experience their own existence? In the early 1990s, an engineer predicted that the future of chicken and egg production would come to resemble "industrial-scale versions of the heart-lung machines that brain-dead human beings need a court order to get unplugged from" (Robert Burruss, "The Future of Eggs," The Baltimore Sun, Dec. 29, 1993). As long as they don't "feel" anything, is it ethical to do this to chickens?
Agribusiness philosopher Paul Thompson has argued that if blind chickens "don't mind" being crowded together in confinement as much as do chickens who can see, it would "improve animal welfare" to breed blind chickens (Paul Thompson. "Welfare as an Ethical Issue: Are Blind Chickens the Answer?" in Bioethics Symposium, USDA, Jan. 23, 2007). A breeder of featherless chickens in Israel claims "welfare" benefits for naked chickens on factory farms, despite the fact that feathers help to protect the birds' delicate skin from injuries and infections, which is all the more necessary in an environment that is as thick with aerial pollution and ammoniated, fecal-soaked floors as industrial chicken sheds are. Philosopher Peter Singer, asked if he would consider it ethical to engineer a "brainless bird," grown strictly for meat, said he would consider it "an ethical improvement on the present system, because it would eliminate the suffering that these birds are feeling" (Oliver Broudy, "The Practical Ethicist," Salon, May 8, 2006.)
But would it eliminate the suffering these birds are enduring? What if the chicken's brain could be scientifically expunged? What if the elements of memory, instinct, sensation and emotion could be eliminated and a brainless chicken constructed? In the United Kingdom, an architecture student named Andre Ford has proposed what he calls the "Headless Chicken Solution" to the suffering of chickens on factory farms. (Olivia Solon, "Food project proposes Matrix-style vertical chicken farms." Wired, Feb. 15, 2012)
Drawing on Paul Thompson's "Blind Chicken Solution," Ford envisions the removal of the chicken's cerebral cortex. Removing the cerebral cortex, he says, would inhibit the bird's sensory perceptions so that chickens could be mass-produced without awareness of themselves or their situation in a technologized universe that would make it easier for the chicken industry to make even more money facilitating ever greater consumption of chicken products by a growing global human population.
Ford equates removing the chicken's brain with the "removal of suffering," but the suffering of chickens on factory farms is a matter of more complexity than science fiction and conventional "welfare" solutions can address. Chicken brain removal, far from removing suffering, takes suffering – the condition of injury or trauma whether consciously felt or not– to the ultimate limit of destroying the integrity of the bird as such. It accords with the agribusiness view of farmed animals as mere biological raw material to be manipulated at will.
Already, according to a poultry industry manual, "The technology built into buildings and equipment [is] embodied genetically into the chicken itself" (Bell and Weaver, Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production, 5th edition, 2002). Taking this "embodiment" to the ultimate extreme of total avian degradation is not the answer. If there is going to be humanely-produced chicken in the future, the burgeoning technology of "beyond meat," which replicates the texture and taste of chicken flesh using all-plant ingredients, will end the animal suffering, save the birds, be kinder to the planet and better for us. It will truly be something to crow about. (Brad Stone, "Venture Capital Sees Promise in Lab-Created Eco-Foods," Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Jan. 24, 2013.)
karen davis KAREN DAVIS, PhD is the President of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. She is the author of several books including Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry (2009).
Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Office: 757-678-7875

The dangers of leaving a pet in a parked car in hot weather, even with the windows partially open.

Here is a video demonstration of how hot it can get in a parked car for a pet (and people!) in hot weather, even with the windows cracked. Too many pets die and suffer because of being left in a hot car, because of owners not being aware of how dangerously hot it does get in these cars.

This is a very effective demonstration and will make you see how significantly elevated the temperature becomes and how deadly this situation is for any pet/person left inside these cars. It is imperative not to put them in this situation and please share this information with others so we can prevent any of these tragedies as during the summer heat (but it can also happen during hot days in other seasons as well).

This should open your eyes about dogs in a parked car, even with the windows open!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A True Story and a Valuable Lesson

This is a true story about an amazing teacher who taught her students a wonderful lesson about things we take for granted. It is also a lesson and story we can also learn from as well.

I checked this out on Snopes and it is true!

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned....

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you . They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded Teacher of the Year for the state of Arkansas in 2006.

*Please consider passing this along so others won't forget either that the liberties and freedoms we have in this great country were earned by U. S. Veterans, past and present!*
Always remember them and the rights they have won for us.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Natura Pet Recalls Multiple Brands of Dry Dog and Cat Foods, Treats

Here we go again...another pet food recall....

Natura Pet Issues New Dog And Cat Food Recall

: A sampling of product labels being recalled by Natura Pet Products (Credit: Steve Grzanich)
: A sampling of product labels being recalled by Natura Pet Products (Credit: Steve Grzanich)
Reporting Steve Grzanich

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nebraska-based Natura Pet Products has announced a new voluntary recall of multiple brands of dry pet food and treats. The decision comes after a positive test for Salmonella on April 3.
This is the latest in a series of recalls involving the company in the past year.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the recall involves Innova Dry dog and cat food, biscuits, bars, treats. Evo dry pets foods and treats, California Natural dry pet foods and treats, Healthwise, Karma and Mother Nature brands — all lot codes and all package sizes. The products generally have expiration dates prior to June 10, 2014.

The FDA says Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is a risk to humans if they handle the contaminated pet products. Expert say it’s important to thoroughly wash hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

The FDA says pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Other pets will experience decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

According to a news release issued by the FDA, the Natura products in question were were packaged in a single production facility. The positive test for Salmonella came during routine FDA testing. So far there have been no reports of pet or human illness associated with products involved in this latest recall.

Natura says the affected products were sold at veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the U.S. and Canada. No canned wet food is affected by the recall.

For more information, visit and

Friday, June 7, 2013

Interacting with Dogs (and Cats) Can Help Human Mental Health

From the AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief-

How Pooches Can Replace Drugs

Dogs may help to correct certain human mental health disorders by beneficially affecting brain chemistry and function, a new study suggests.

The research shows how interacting with dogs improves mood among teenagers living in residential treatment centers. In this case, the teens were in therapy for drug or alcohol abuse.

"We suggest that the dog interaction activities and/or the dog itself could potentially serve as a non-drug stimulus that may heighten the adolescents' response to naturally occurring stimuli therefore potentially helping to restore the brain's normal process," said Lindsay Ellsworth, who led the research.

Ellsworth, a doctoral candidate at Washington State University, brought dogs from the Spokane Humane Society to the Excelsior Youth Center, also in Spokane. Teen participants were all males.
During daily recreation time at Excelsior, some of the teens played pool, video games or basketball. Another group interacted with the dogs, by brushing, feeding and playing with them. Before and after the activities, the teens filled an assessment used to scale and study emotion.
Teens who spent time with dogs experienced heightened joy, improved attentiveness and serenity. Symptoms for participants being treated for ADHD, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder dramatically decreased.

Ellsworth suspects that social companionship with dogs may stimulate the release of opioids, psychoactive chemicals that can relieve pain and promote pleasurable feelings. Certain drugs -- legal and illegal -- bind to opioid receptors in the brain, but the doggy-produced high is natural with no side effects.

Repeated drug use can significantly alter opioid systems, leaving the person feeling lonely or depressed. Social companionship with dogs appears to help alleviate these negative states.

"The relationship between humans and dogs has been in existence for thousands of years," Ellsworth explained. "They actively seek out their owner’s attention and, from the human perception, they provide displays of affection.

She described how one teen at the center with behavioral problems benefited from the animals.

“During his first couple of encounters with the dogs, he had to learn how to control his behavior in order not to startle the dogs,” she said, adding that "his tone and voice eventually became quieter, his stroke softer, his moves more calculated versus spontaneous, and he appeared to become more aware of himself and how he was acting."

After sessions with the dogs, his interactions with staff improved, becoming "positive and productive."
"It could be a really novel, cost-effective and beneficial complement to traditional treatments," said animal behaviorist Ruth Newberry about using dogs to help treat substance abuse. "This could be a win-win innovation for everyone involved, including the dogs."

Jaak Panksepp, chair of Animal Well-Being Science at WSU, added, “This is wonderful research, and highlights how companion animals can promote therapy with teenagers who have emotional problems.”
Ellsworth suspects that dogs similarly benefit the mental health of adults, children and seniors too. Interaction with cats likely also stimulates opioid release, particularly for people who are already feline fanciers.