Unbefugte Personen schafften sich Zutritt zu den Stallungen. © Agrarfoto.com
- by Susan Bird
- March 3, 2014
- 1:00 pm
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In 2011, a pig farmer named Bob Comis posted a rather surprising, and short, entry on the Stony Brook Farm blog. He said, “This morning, as I look out the window at a pasture quickly growing full of frolicking lambs, I am feeling very much that it might be wrong to eat meat, and that I might indeed be a very bad person for killing animals for a living.”
Comis raises perhaps 500 pigs every year on his farm in rural New York. He does not run an industrialized operation. Rather, he strives to treat the pigs as well as possible, raising them in a pasture-based manner. They can go outside, root around, play and socialize together, rest inside shelters or shady wooded areas, and wallow in mud to stay cool.
They live happy piggy lives, right up to the day they take their final truck ride to the slaughterhouse. There, of course, things are not so rosy.
“One morning, I woke up absolutely certain that killing animals to eat their meat was wrong,” Comis told Modern Farmer in 2014. “So it might seem like I’ve sided with animal rights advocates, but the long view that I’m taking on this makes my position more complicated than that.”
“We Have an Obligation to Eat Otherwise”
These are amazing words from someone who makes his living providing animal meat for human consumption:
What I do is wrong, in spite of its acceptance by nearly 95 percent of the American population. I know it in my bones — even if I cannot yet act on it. Someday it must stop. Somehow we need to become the sort of beings who can see what we are doing when we look head on, the sort of beings who don’t weave dark, damning shrouds to sustain, with acceptance and celebration, the grossly unethical. Deeper, much deeper, we have an obligation to eat otherwise.
It might take incalculable generations of being hooked by and grappling with the ethics of slaughter to get there. But we really do need to get there — because again, what I am doing, what we are doing, is wrong, even terribly so.
Taking Baby Steps Toward The Day We Don‘t Keep Livestock At All
Comis believes that we need to stop raising and slaughtering animals for food. He also knows this happy animal-friendly future won’t happen in one fell swoop. It’s going to require a shift in cultural thinking.
“I think a lot of animal farmers have the same ethical struggles me, although I’m not sure how many struggle as intensely as I do,” Comis told Modern Farmer. “I believe this is likely the case with even non-corporate factory farmers. Feeling nothing strikes me as mildly sociopathic.”
Pasture raised pigs outside on a sunny day. Photo credit: Thinkstock
Those who believe in the “all or nothing” approach will not like Bob Comis or what he has to say. He continues to raise pigs for slaughter, and no matter how well those pigs live until the day they die, the abolitionist proponents won’t be fans.
For those who believe progress must sometimes be gained in increments, Comis’ non-intensive livestock farming approach may find favor.
“For now, I justify non-industrial farming as a necessary compromise that will gradually shift how we think about using animals as food,” he said.
“By raising animals the way I do, I offer a way out of the industrial farming system, which is worse by orders of magnitude than the way I farm, and should be abandoned immediately,” Comis told Modern Farmer. ”That’s how I rationalize my farming. I know that on the macro level, my small farm does not change much. But on the micro level, I do make a difference in the lives – and deaths – of individual pigs.”
Comis is different than those who espouse a continuation of the “sustainable humane meat” industry. Instead, he advocates for a future in which his type of farming serves only as a stepping stone toward the day we don’t eat animals at all. He wants to treat the animals decently until we can get society to the point where we don’t eat them at all.
“An Unethical Life Shrouded in the Justificatory Trappings of Social Acceptance”
“As a pig farmer, I live an unethical life shrouded in the justificatory trappings of social acceptance.” Comis wrote for The Huffington Post in January 2014. “There is more, even, than simple acceptance. There is actually celebration of the way I raise the pigs. Because I give the pigs lives that are as close to natural as is possible in an unnatural system, I am honorable, I am just, I am humane — while all the while behind the shroud, I am a slaveholder and a murderer.”
Realizations such as this, discussed publicly by individuals in the livestock trade, are the first nuggets that will lead to the end of animal farming. Comis isn’t the only livestock rancher to express horror at industrialized animal farming. Howard Lyman, the “Mad Cowboy,” was a fourth generation cattle rancher and dairy farmer until health concerns turned him vegan and caused him to lobby hard against the very industry he’d once embraced.
Resist the urge to dismiss what Comis has to say because he’s still farming pigs. I wanted to do that, too. It’s the easy and understandable reaction. We want to say “If you think it’s so wrong, stop doing it!”
The fact that any livestock farmer feels this way — and encourages public discussion about it — is monumental. I’m impressed Comis gave voice to his worries, even if he’s a failed vegan, still a meat eater and still a livestock farmer. He’s thinking and writing about the issue. He’s deeply bothered. He’s stirring the pot. He’s making noise. That’s how change begins.
Uproar at South Carolina School After “Pig Rodeo” Sends Students Fleeing in Tears
- by Susan Bird
- February 25, 2014
- 5:30 pm
Pop quiz time, Care 2 readers. What high school pep rally event could possibly result in this outcome: angry parents, weeping schoolchildren, television news coverage, blistering Facebook complaints and an animal rescue? Who guessed “a pig rodeo”? Was that you? If so, you get a gold star.
In a moment of brilliantly bad decision making, the Ninety Six High School in Greenwood, S.C., decided it would be a mighty fine idea to hold a “pig rodeo” as a fundraiser during a pep rally on Feb. 20. What actually happened at that event is hard to determine with any accuracy, however. The story differs depending on who’s telling it.
What’s crystal clear is that many people, parents and students alike, were extremely upset about the way the pig was treated.
Catching a Frightened Little Pig
School representatives placed a young, greased female pig in a fenced off area inside the school gymnasium. The point of the “rodeo” was to have competing teams try to catch the pig as it ran around inside the enclosure. It’s fun to chase a scared pig who can’t get away, after all, right?
According to some attendees, the pig ran around the enclosure squealing as faculty and students tried to grab her. An educated guess might be that she was frightened. Another educated guess might be that those who were able to grab the pig probably got their hands on a greasy, wildly thrashing and surprisingly heavy animal.
Several participants probably hefted the shrieking pig up and then lost their grip. The poor pig undoubtedly fell to the floor more than once, awkwardly and hard.
Reports say that one parent present at the event posted the following to her Facebook page:
The animal’s head struck the gym floor several times as it was lifted shoulder height and spiked like a football. Students were crying and visibly upset by the pig’s screams of terror and pain.
Several students walked out and were mocked by a teacher for it. As other students tried to flee the grisly sight, they were forbidden and made to stay and listen to this animal be tortured. One young girl hid under the bleachers in tears. By the end of the ordeal, the pig could no longer walk. Students suspected his legs were broken.
My children and several of their friends came home visibly distressed.
Students reportedly posted these comments to Facebook afterward:
I’m still sickened to the point of no return. It was a traumatizing experience… The sight alone was horrific enough to be plastered into my mind forever, but what really topped off the haunting and completely unnecessary affair? The sound. The bloodcurdling shrieks, squeals and screams. I cannot stress the magnitude of anguish I felt in the pit of my stomach.
School was just…awful. I’m pretty sure that was considered animal cruelty. And I don’t appreciate being called stupid, silly and needing to chill out.
Clearly, there’s enough parent and student anger out there to validate that something seriously inappropriate happened in that school gymnasium. Even if it turns out to be not much more than a case of a scared, squealing pig being chased around and perhaps dropped several times, that’s enough to raise the ire of animal lovers.
And to do it in front of tearful children? Wrong for the pig, wrong for the kids. What were they thinking?
School District Superintendent: I‘m Sorry, It Won‘t Happen Again
Greenwood District Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen made the decision to have a “pig rodeo” at the pep rally. He’s hip deep in a media circus now, so he must be deeply regretting that choice.
“Yes, we did have a pig rodeo yesterday afternoon in the high school and the middle school was there as well,” he told WYFF News 4. “I would never harm an animal, let alone in front of children. This activity will not be scheduled again. I apologize to those that were offended.”
Charlotte the Pig, Happy at Sanctuary
Joe Mann, a representative of Big Oaks Rescue Farm, took the pig to a veterinarian the day after the rodeo. The school had returned the pig, now known as Charlotte, to the home from which they’d borrowed her. Mann showed up, apparently at the request of the school, and asked if he could take Charlotte to the veterinarian for an examination.
The vet, Dr. Paula Watkins, found no broken bones. She did identify some soft tissue injuries and bruising, but could not say for sure whether these occurred before the rodeo or during it. Otherwise, Charlotte is fine. She is now resting comfortably at the sanctuary, blissfully unaware of the rancorous frenzy her rodeo experienced has caused.
Dr. Petersen has already apologized and stated he’ll never hold a pig rodeo again. If you’d like to let him know that he should never again schedule any type of school event which uses a live animal for entertainment purposes, please sign this petition. We will see that it is delivered to Dr. Petersen. It’s the least we can do to make it up to Charlotte
900 Dead Piglets Fed to Their Mothers at Horrific Kentucky Farm
- by Beth Buczynski
- February 21, 2014
- 5:00 am
An undercover investigation at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Owensboro, Ky., recently exposed not only the horrific conditions pigs endure at factory farms, and the gruesome practices they claim will keep pigs healthy.
Secret film footage (view the footage below) taken earlier this year by an investigator working for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reveals that after 900 piglets died from diarrheal disease in a 2 day period, their intestines were ground up into “a smoothie” and fed to their mothers and other sows. Kentucky state law prohibits the feeding of dead pigs to pigs, and for good reason.
According to the HSUS:
Studies of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus in Europe have consistently found higher risk of infection in large industrial factory farming operations, compared to smaller farms that raise their pigs outdoors. The diarrheal disease is coursing through U.S. pigs, especially at factory farms, while smaller family farms with higher animal welfare standards typically don’t engage in these practices. Since the outbreak started in the U.S. in April 2013, several million pigs have died from the virus.
The fact that the farm shares its name with a medieval torture device for women seems all too appropriate according to the investigator who broke the story. At Iron Maiden, sows are kept in cramped cages known as gestation crates. As Care2′s s.e. smith reported earlier this year, these small, narrow stalls “are so small the animals cannot turn around and many can’t lie down, either, forced to stand on a slatted concrete floor (for easier waste management) until they’re ready to deliver their piglets, at which point they move to farrowing crates.”
In addition to these inhumane conditions, the sows were then forced to consume remains from diseased piglets, just one of several disturbing practices HSUS officials say are fairly widespread within the industrial sector of the pig industry.
“The entire atmosphere at this facility is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, diarrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at HSUS, in a press release.
The Humane Society said it believes the practice is prohibited by state and federal law banning feeding animals “unprocessed waste” including meat products. The industry, with the support of some animal care experts, says it’s a scientific and veterinarian-approved way of humanely dealing with PEDV. Without it, claims The Center for Food Integrity’s Animal Care Review Panel, even more pigs would die.
“There’s no question that people may be put off by this treatment, but PEDV is wreaking havoc out there on the farms and ‘feedback’ is the only control method we have found to be effective,” said Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.
Maybe not creating the inhumane and unnatural conditions that bred the disease would be a better place to start? I’s hard to see how feeding living animals the diseased flesh from dead animals could be allowed by the FDA and USDA. Then again, both agencies find it totally acceptable to feed chicken poop to cows.
Although we can’t count on the government to address these practices through regulation reform, pressure from consumers continues to be successful in creating change at the other end of the supply chain.
More than 60 major food companies—McDonald’s, Safeway, Costco, Target and dozens more—have mandated that their pork providers eliminate the crates from within their supply chains. Additionally, major pork producers including Smithfield, Tyson and Cargill are moving away from gestation crates.
Please sign and share the petition to urge the USDA to ban Iron Maiden and all farms from feeding dead piglets to their own mothers.
Warning: the following video contains graphic footage
Es gibt kein Impfstoff Afrikanische Schweinepest in Europa angekommen
In Litauen ist die Afrikanische Schweinepest bei Wildschweinen festgestellt worden. Der Deutsche Bauernverband rief die Landwirte nun auf, ihre Betriebe vor der Pest zu schützen.
Der Deutsche Bauernverband hat die Landwirte aufgerufen, ihre Betriebe vor der Afrikanischen Schweinepest zu schützen. “Massiv verstärkte Vorbeugungsmaßnahmen sind das Gebot der Stunde, mögliche Übertragungswege müssen unterbunden werden”, sagte Generalsekretär Bernhard Krüsken. So dürften nur unbedingt notwendige Besucher wie Tierärzte in die Ställe. Auch bei Fahrten zwischen den Betrieben sollten sich die Bauern auf das Nötigste beschränken.
Die Afrikanische Schweinepest hatte nach Angaben des Friedrich-Loeffler-Instituts vor wenigen Tagen die EU erreicht. In zwei Regionen Litauens wurde die tödliche Tierseuche festgestellt, die neben Hausschweinen auch Wildschweine befällt. Für Menschen und andere Haus- und Wildtiere sei sie ungefährlich, betont das Institut.
Es gibt kein Impfstoff gegen die Afrikanische Schweinepest
“Wirtschaftlich sind die Folgen nicht nur für die betroffenen Betriebe, sondern für alle Schweinehalter verheerend”, warnte Krüsken. Handelspartner nähmen auch einzelne Fälle zum Anlass, kein Fleisch mehr aus den betroffenen Ländern zu kaufen. Die EU-Kommission hatte von Russland die Aufhebung des Importverbots für Schweinefleisch aus der EU verlangt. “Da es keinen Impfstoff für die Afrikanische Schweinepest gibt, ist die Situation besonders schwierig und Vorbeugung so wichtig”, sagte Krüsken. Das Loeffler-Instiut nannte neben Transportfahrzeugen besonders das Verfüttern von Speiseabfällen als Infektionsquelle.
Experten-Interview: Auswirkungen von Schweinepest noch gering
Die Auswirkungen auf deutsche Landwirte dürften eher gering sein. Das glaubt Experte Matthias Quaing von der Interessengemeinschaft der Schweinehalter Deutschlands (ISN) in Damme. “Eine direkte Gefahr für unsere schweinehaltenden Betriebe gibt es konkret noch nicht”, sagte Quaing. Allenfalls am sinkenden Export dürften deutsche Bauern die Schweinepest spüren, denn Russland lasse inzwischen keine Schweinefleisch-Importe aus der EU mehr zu.
Wie groß ist die Gefahr, dass die Krankheit auf Schweinemastbetriebe hierzulande übergreift?
Es gibt im Moment noch keine Anzeichen, dass sich die Krankheit ausweitet. Natürlich sind Landwirte, Vieh- und Fleischhändler alarmiert. Man weiß, dass da eine große Gefahr lauert, aber man hat noch die Hoffnung, dass man glimpflich davon kommt. Was die Hygiene auf den Betrieben angeht, haben wir hier schon seit Jahren hohe Standards. Jeder Landwirt weiß, wenn die Krankheit ausbricht, hilft nichts anderes, als das der ganze Viehbestand getötet wird. Allein schon deshalb sind alle sehr vorsichtig.
Also sehen sich deutsche Landwirte gar nicht betroffen? Doch, denn aktuell haben russische Behörden die Lieferungen von Fleisch an einigen Grenzen zurückgewiesen. Etwa ein Viertel der Schweinefleischexporte aus der Europäischen Union gehen nach Russland, das sind im Jahr 750.000 Tonnen Fleisch. Wenn diese Lieferungen ausfielen, dann würde sich das in der EU natürlich schon bemerkbar machen. Aber es gibt kaum deutsche Betriebe, die eine Lizenz zum Handel mit Russland haben. Von einem Handelsstopp wären Dänemark, die Niederlande, Belgien oder Polen viel mehr betroffen. Allerdings könnte sich ein Handelsstopp indirekt auf unsere Betriebe auswirken.
Was heißt das genau? Wenn Dänen und Holländer ihr Fleisch nicht in Russland absetzen können, wollen sie ihre Produktion hier loswerden. Die EU ist ein zusammenhängender Markt, Grenzen zwischen den Ländern gibt es nicht mehr.
Also könnte es doch sein, dass die Verbraucher in der EU von sinkenden Preisen profitieren? Die ersten Schlachtkonzerne haben bereits angekündigt, den ohnehin schon vergleichsweise geringen Schlachtpreis um fünf Cent pro Kilo zu senken. Das wären für den Landwirt fünf bis zehn Euro weniger pro Tier, als er ohne den Einfluss der Schweinepest erzielt hätte. Aber der Endverbraucher wird davon nicht viel merken, fürchte ich. Die Preise an der Fleischtheke sind doch sehr träge, zudem betrifft der Preisverfall insbesondere die Fleischteile, die von den deutschen Konsumenten nur wenig nachgefragt werden.
Tiertransporter-Fahrer lässt Schweine stundenlang frieren
24.01.2014, 18:38 Uhr | dpa
Schweine im Transporter. Schweine haben es im Transporter nicht gut. Foto: Victoria Bonn-Meuser/Archiv (Quelle: dpa)
Der Fahrer eines Schweinetransporters aus Niedersachsen hat am Freitag seine Tiere stundenlang bei eisiger Kälte auf einem Parkplatz nahe Itzehoe frieren lassen. Bei minus fünf Grad parkte der 60-Jährige seinen Hänger mit 115 Schweinen an der Bundesstraße 5, während er weitere Tiere in Dithmarschen abholte, teilte die Polizei mit. Als er rund drei Stunden später zurückkam, erwarteten ihn Streifenbeamte. Gegen den Mann wird jetzt wegen Verstoßes gegen das Tierschutz-Transportrecht ermittelt.
24.01.2014, 18:38 Uhr | dpa