My cousin Katie is a student at the University of Iowa (Go Hawks!). She is in an animal welfare issues class and read "Eating Animals" by Jonathon Safran Foer. Being an activist myself, she passed the book along to me.
I am lying on the couch while my husband watches "Man v. Food" (disGUSTing) reading this book. I've nearly vomited twice and my eyes have teared up so many times I lost count.
Chickens once had a life expectancy of 15-20 years. Now the modern chicken (broiler chicken, a chicken used for meat not eggs) is killed at around six weeks. The growth rate has increased 400 percent. This means the chicken puts on as much meat in six weeks as the chicken used to put on in 15 years. Disgusting.
What happens to male chickens? Man hasn't designed male chickens for meat and nature hasn't (obviously) designed them to lay eggs so, what happens to male chicks? Well, they're destroyed. More then 250 million chicks are destroyed every year in the United States alone.
How? Well, they're sucked through a series of pipes onto an electrified plate. They're electrocuted. Alive. Another way farmers and factory farms 'destroy' the male chicks is by sending them - FULLY CONSCIOUS - through a macerator (which is a wood chipper full of completely aware baby chicks).
Another disturbing fact is that in most of the states it is perfectly legal to throw a 'downer' into a dumpster while still alive. What is a downer? While being transported it is common for cows and pigs to become seriously injured and become a 'downer'. They're too weak or injured to regain a standing position. At this point they're of no use to the farmers because they aren't worth enough money. There are more than 200,000 'downed' cows every year (reported so obviously this number is much higher. Farmers don't report - they're too busy making money) and these cows are left to die. They starve, dehydrate and are in pain. Countless video tapes have caught men bulldozing live cows into dumpsters.
Here is a quote from Foer's book. The quote is part of an interview with Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur. (Farm Sanctuary is a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals to live out their days).
"I was driving around the Lancaster stockyard and saw a pile of downers. I approached, and one of the sheep moved her head. She was still alive, and left there to suffer. I put her in the back of my van.......when we got the farm we took her there and she lived ten years. TEN YEARS."
Some veterinary care, love and TLC was all it took for this abused, neglected and left to die downed sheep to live.
Most people know about the cruelty that takes place on factory farms or have at least heard of it.The cages are small. The slaughter is violent.