PDA

View Full Version : Sheep Farming Q. WARNING: Graphic & disturbing to the sensitive animal lover


bailsmom
03-09-2009, 02:46 PM
I had the unpleasant misfortune of watching Dirty Jobs last Friday and they showed these farmers - A.K.A. sheep tortureres IMHO - castrating these poor baby sheep with THEIR TEETH!!!!! And no numbing medication whatsoever. The man put the sheeps testicles in his mouth and bit them off!!!!!!!!!!! WTH??? I nearly vomited as I watched in disbelief. Then he sliced half of his tail off and part of his ear with a knife. Again, no numbing medication.

Is this a practice that is humane?? I don't think so. That poor animal jerked back in pain as Mike held him in his arms. I couldn't believe that it actually happened and I watched as many other people did.

Please explain this practice - in lamens terms please - and convince me that these animals are not being tortured. And remember, I am not a farm girl by any means but an animal lover beyond what I ever thought was possible. So don't take offense because I am uneducated in this inhumane practice. I'm asking for some clear and respectful education, no insults just because I wasn't raised on a farm.

Mike
03-09-2009, 03:08 PM
I don't have cable but obviously you were watching a sensationalist show. If you search about sheep farming you will not find any mention of teeth being the preferred method of castration in modern farming.
They're not going to show you a more common practice of banding because it's not sensational and you wouldn't be on the internet posting how disgusting it is.

If they don't cut the tails off with some breeds the tails get matted down with poo, disease sets in and they die, or you have to use more antibiotics and keep them clean which is not very practical if you have a large flock.
Banding is also a more common practice with tail docking.

Banding is as painless as people who leave rings on their fingers while they gain weight and the ring cuts the blood off to their finger. The banded appendage loses its blood supply, dries up and falls off. It requires medications to avoid disease.

I never heard of ear cropping in sheep and don't see what good that would do. It must've been an earmark in lue of a band.

evona
03-09-2009, 03:13 PM
I am not a sheep farmer by any means either, but I did talk at length with some this weekend. They told us about the dirty jobs show and they said that its not as dramatic as they make it seem, although castrating is never a pretty thing to do at any time. He said that they don't actually bite testicles off with their teeth, and that there is no castration method that doesn't involve some pain to the lamb, but that the bloodless way and the way that causes the least infections is banding. I don't know if other people practice this teeth biting castration method, but it seems like it would be the least efficient way to do castration and I would think any business owner would want efficiency. They also told me they dock the tails to keep fecal matter from accumulating on their hind quarters and to reduce the occurrence of wool maggots and infection to the sheep. I didn't ask about how they personally did the docking though. Here's what I read about it:

(http://www.sheep101.info/201/dockcastrate.html)

Docking

Docking prevents fecal matter from accumulating on the tail and hindquarters of sheep and lambs. Research has shown that tail docking greatly reduces fly strike (wool maggots), while having no ill effect on lamb mortality or production. Docking also facilitates shearing. Not many shearers would want to shear sheep with long tails.

saracidaltendencies
03-09-2009, 03:31 PM
Thank goodness I didn't see that show...Sad thing is, too many places (companies, farms, etc.) that deal with live animals do so in incredibly inhumane ways. Please don't get me wrong and assume I mean every farm or animal "business" is run inhumanely because I don't, but, the sad truth is there are more places that DO torture/abuse the animals than don't.

I've done a ton, and I mean a TON of research on numerous companies that deal with animals and it is absolutely sickening to see and read about their practices.

Needless to say, that's why I'm a vegetarian, I don't wear leather/suede/fur, etc, I avoid buying products tested on animals, and, I don't use yarn that comes from animals.

The things done to the poor animals are so absolutely horrible and senseless...My senior year of high school I wrote an article for our school newspaper against dissection, which, in turn, led me to be a guest speaker at some of the Saint Louis Animal Rights Team meetings, a guest speaker at the National Science Teacher's Association Convention in St. Louis at the former Trans World Dome, and, a guest speaker at Earth Day at Washington University in St. Louis.

evona
03-09-2009, 03:42 PM
I think that Mike hit it on the head. The show was sensationalist. I looked up on google and the actual reputable sites about farming and farming forums I saw seem to all say that banding is the preferred method for castrating. It doesn't even make sense really. Say you have a large sheep farm (the ones I suspect might be accused of being least humane). Can you imagine having to castrate the number of lambs that must come through those farms with your teeth! It would be ridiculous. Plus, those sheep are investments. They would obviously want to use the method that was least likely to cause infection and most likely to keep the sheep alive. Ripping testicles off with teeth certainly doesn't seem like the most hygienic method and likely would cause infections for the sheep and illness for the humans.

As for the ear marking - I don't know. None of the sheep on the farm I saw this weekend had cuts on their ears although some were tagged on the ear - kind of like an earring. However, I do know that some groups that spay and neuter stray cats "tip" the ears of the cats so that if they are ever accidentally caught again and brought in they know that they've already been spayed or neutered.

Mike
03-09-2009, 04:06 PM
the sad truth is there are more places that DO torture/abuse the animals than don't.
That's not the truth at all.
That is the interpretation that someone who doesn't know about farm animals jumps to when they see farming.

Those animals are your business, you rely on them for your income. Torturing them would cause stress and stress causes losses so you would be destroying your income.
Are you going to throw away $2000 for a cow or $500 for a pig just to torture them?

The ones that torture/abuse are in the minority.
Where did you get your information, groups like PETA?

Had you taken 4H or spent some time on assorted farms you would've come to a very different conclusion.
That is why some of us who are close to farms do not understand the vegan approach to wool yarn. Wool sheep are the most pampered of all the farm animals often being treated more like pets.

saracidaltendencies
03-09-2009, 04:50 PM
That's not the truth at all.
That is the interpretation that someone who doesn't know about farm animals jumps to when they see farming.

Those animals are your business, you rely on them for your income. Torturing them would cause stress and stress causes losses so you would be destroying your income.
Are you going to throw away $2000 for a cow or $500 for a pig just to torture them?

The ones that torture/abuse are in the minority.
Where did you get your information, groups like PETA?

Had you taken 4H or spent some time on assorted farms you would've come to a very different conclusion.
That is why some of us who are close to farms do not understand the vegan approach to wool yarn. Wool sheep are the most pampered of all the farm animals often being treated more like pets.

Specifically why I added, "Please don't get me wrong and assume I mean every farm or animal 'business' is run inhumanely because I don't"

Please read my post thoroughly before responding.

I KNOW not all farms are like that which is why I pointed out specifically I didn't want anyone assuming I was referring to all farms or animal "businesses". No, I don't get all of my information through PETA and rely on PETA's information infrequently because they are seen by many as being "radicals" and people tend to disregard anything printed by PETA.

I don't use yarn from animals because I need to know, for sure, the wool was obtained from a company who treats their animals humanely. It's a personal choice so don't go knocking me for it when I have never, ever criticized anyone for using yarn made from animals.

I know small farms treat their animals with respect because THAT is their source of income and it would be stupid of them to treat them inhumanely as that would degrade their reputation and quality. Again, specifically why I wrote please don't "assume I mean every farm or animal 'business'".

LilHuskiesFootBallMom
03-09-2009, 05:14 PM
i grew up in the country and my former step-grandparents ran a dairy farm (and they also kept pigs). It is what it is. Never believe what you see on those shows on televisions because it's all about the ratings. If you had a cow (pardon the pun) over the sheep, it's a good thing you didn't see the one about the crocodile farms.

Farmers take care of their animals to the best of their abilities (well, the ones worth their weight in salt) because this is their LIVELIHOOD. However, sometimes things happen which require drastic measures in order to save the adult animal and requires sacrificing the baby one (ie: a calf born breech and way too big... they almost lost the cow but the calf had to be sacrificed during the delivery.. the vet was there and handled it).

Songbirdy
03-09-2009, 05:18 PM
In regards to the ear notches on sheep in flocks where some have tags... the unfortunate thing is sometimes the tags get caught. Sometimes by other sheep, sometimes on the fence, and sometimes just them sleeping a certain way.

So then the ear tears and the result looks like a notch. This also happens in cows.

I know that some farmers do just notch the ears in a specific way, apply or don't apply antibiotic cream and use that to identify their sheep.

With cows often they can't be sold without a tag because that's what is used to trace their heritage should there be a concern down the road (insert mad cow disease). Often if a calf looses its first tag the farmer will avoid putting in another one until sale day because the cow is likely to do it again.

The following is my opinion:
Having lived overseas till I was 14 and having lived here since and been in farming business... I have to say North American raised animals have living conditions far better than the majority of third world country persons. I say we strive to raise the quality of life for every living thing.

evona
03-09-2009, 05:31 PM
I don't use yarn from animals because I need to know, for sure, the wool was obtained from a company who treats their animals humanely. It's a personal choice so don't go knocking me for it when I have never, ever criticized anyone for using yarn made from animals.



This is actually one of the reasons why I have been researching small farming for myself. I want to be able to better control what I put out.

bailsmom
03-09-2009, 05:37 PM
I appreciate all of your responses and how respectful you have been regarding this issue. But I don't understand how they can sensationalize castrating an animal. When Mike saw this idiot do it, he was shocked, not in the way I was but he was still surprised. And he asked why they did it that way and the farmer mumbled something idiodic. I don't remember exactly what he said but there were 2 farmers and they both agreed with the way they did that.

And as for the allegator episode, we were watching it and then I saw them all in their cramped 'tombs' I changed the channel before I could see the whole show.

Mike
03-09-2009, 06:02 PM
Specifically why I added, "Please don't get me wrong and assume I mean every farm or animal 'business' is run inhumanely because I don't"

Please read my post thoroughly before responding.

I KNOW not all farms are like that which is why I pointed out specifically I didn't want anyone assuming I was referring to all farms or animal "businesses". No, I don't get all of my information through PETA and rely on PETA's information infrequently because they are seen by many as being "radicals" and people tend to disregard anything printed by PETA.

I don't use yarn from animals because I need to know, for sure, the wool was obtained from a company who treats their animals humanely. It's a personal choice so don't go knocking me for it when I have never, ever criticized anyone for using yarn made from animals.

I know small farms treat their animals with respect because THAT is their source of income and it would be stupid of them to treat them inhumanely as that would degrade their reputation and quality. Again, specifically why I wrote please don't "assume I mean every farm or animal 'business'".

Demonica,
This is what you said,
"the sad truth is there are more places that DO torture/abuse the animals than don't."

That doesn't have to say "every farm tortures" to be incorrect. Maybe you should read your posts more thoroughly before posting.
Some do, most don't because we have laws that keep that from happening for long and it isn't profitable to harm the animals you are planning on selling.

There are not more that torture than don't.
It doesn't make business sense to actually torture and not being from a farm animal background I'm sure some of the things you perceive as torture are not.

A friend of mine runs pretty major hog factory farms. They would stand more to lose by torturing their animals than a friend who free ranges a small herd of cattle.
When he gets a hog that won't load he simply kills it and eats it because the stress of loading wouldn't let it make it to market.
I've seen animal rights groups claim that not allowing them to take care of the piglets is abuse. Yet if they allowed them they would kill their young.
They see factory dairy cows on their daily march to be milked and think that's torture, yet the real torture would be not milking them.

I did not knock you for your personal choice about wool yarn. I said those of us who have been around farming don't understand your choice because wool sheep are pampered.
I don't care if you don't use wool, that leaves more for me. I just don't understand it.

saracidaltendencies
03-09-2009, 08:44 PM
Mike, this is where you are getting confused...I didn't single out small farms, I stated, "...too many places (companies, farms, etc.) that deal with live animals..."

and,"the sad truth is there are more places..."

and again, "...numerous companies that deal with animals..."

I never singled out small farms, I'm speaking of various places that deal with live animals.

You cannot tell me that throughout all of the industries, all over the world, that deal with live animals there are more companies that don't harm their animals than do because it's simply not true.

I'm referring to the fur industry, the cosmetic industry, the food industry, etc. All of the industries that deal with live animals. The factory farms (many *again, don't misinterpret, I said many, not all* of which milk their cows by machine, not hand), the fur trappers, the seal hunters, the horse meat industry, biological supply companies...I think you get the picture.

I also never stated small farms torture their animals. Please don't try to paint me as the naive little animal rights activist you apparently believe me to be because you couldn't be farther from reality.

If that were the case, don't you think I'd be on here shunning everyone who uses wool or any other animal fiber? It's not my place to judge...For all I know the majority of people here may get their yarn from small, humane farms. And even if they don't, it's still not my place to judge them.

I have already stated I know small farms don't torture their animals and where you got the idea I believe small farms DO torture their animals is beyond me. And, when I speak of torture, I'm talking about the companies whose employees deliberately harm the animals just because they can. The companies whose employees beat the animals with cattle prods for the hell of it because the animals are going to die anyway, the employees who hold animals underwater long enough to lose consciousness but bring them up again so they can continue to beat them until they die, the companies whose employees gas the animals and the ones who survive the gas chamber are beaten to death.

I'm not referring to those small farms with free range animals who aren't crowded into crates too small for the animals to breathe in or pumped full of antibiotics or growth hormones that make the animals so heavy they can barely carry their own weight.

Again, I have already stated I know small farms as such depend on their livestock as their source of income and do treat their animals humanely but sadly, small farms who do treat their animals humanely are in the minority. When you look at all of the companies that deal with live animals, small humane farms are not a majority.

On another note, please don't assume to know what I define as torture...I truly do not appreciate being lumped in with the stereotypical "radical" activists who do more harm than good. I have my own set of personal beliefs that I never push on anyone and I believe research and education are the most effective ways to get people to rally behind a cause.

If you wish to continue to dissect my post and give to it your own meaning, go right ahead, however, you have apparently, thus far, misinterpreted what I have said and I don't know what more I can say to make my point any clearer.

Songbirdy
03-10-2009, 08:41 AM
Demonica,

I'm not making a comment on your post, but I will tell you something based on my experience. I spent 7 years in what is considered "factory farming" here in Ontario.

I personally think that the animals in the factory farms are much better cared for than the ones in the smaller farms.

Mostly due to the activisim of animal rights groups. But basically the reason these farms came about is because the smaller farmer can't afford to give the animals the requirements that are now required for animals. And by required, I mean legislated.

I think that these days animal rights groups are often finding this very ironic these days, because I believe they never thought that their movement would, in the vast majority of cases drive the smaller farmer out of business.

I'll give you examples of the normal barn these days.

For example, I farmed meat chickens. In my one barn, I had over 200,000 chickens. I managed 6 such barns, you do the math! ;)

They were offered full feed. Which meant that in one day I went through aproximately 4 tons of natural pesticide free grains. If for some reason a problem went on with the water or feed, I'd have an alarm 24 hours a day, any where I went, within 20 minutes. It would alert me to which feed line or water line. My feed lines & water lines were raised and lowered with the growth of the flock. Too high, no drink. Too low, and believe it or not chickens choke themselves.

Chickens are cannibals. Twice daily we walked through the flock and removed the "deads" which were then composted, not used any other way. If missed, we'd find beaks and legs when cleaning out the barn, which was infrequently.

I experienced, on average less than 0.5% 'shrinkage' per flock. My mortality levels on chickens was lower than the infant mortality levels in the vast majority of countries in the world.

We could run a complete barn air exchange in less than 7 minutes. Each chicken had a mandated floor space of more than 2.5 feet. But chickens flock together. The barn was so large we drove /could drive the 4 transport trucks it took to deliver these birds to the processing plant. If a chicken broke its leg in the process, it was rendered useless. All of the chickens were caught in darkness to reduce flock stress and prevent injury. "Catching Day" was done in near perfect silence. You weren't allowed to come if you had a cough or cold.

Visitors to the farm were on strict bio-security. Those who went from farm to farm were required, by law, to shower in, shower out. The farm was set up that should the day arrive that we had disease we could sanitize the trucks on their way in and out of the farm. To protect the flock.

The chickens recieved one medication at 7 days. There is a disease called coccidiousis (and my spelling is incorrect) which because they eat the shavings they must have or you have instant death. In my first flock they were infected at the hatchery... and in one day I lost over 7%. I was in tears as I had to remove bucket after bucket of dead chicks.

The chickens recieve vitamins, up to 3 or 4 times per flock this step is optional. After hatch they are beak trimed to prevent them from fighting. If this step is skipped, they kill each other.

Their water is tested. Their litter is tested. Their litter is stirred so that it remains fresh. I can't begin to tell you how much litter is brought in for each shipment to make it clean.

After the flock leaves the litter is scraped out. There are strict litter management policies. A farm must have a certain amount of land for a certain amount of litter. The litter can only be spread at certain times of the year. The running ground water around the farm is tested. Barns are not placed within certain distance from water.

The regulations are inumerable! The paper work is huge! The genetics for each flock are traced and known. I could tell you exactly where my chickens came from, where their parents came from, if there were health issues in the parents, etc.


So that is something about chickens.


Let me tell you a bit about cow farms.

The big barns, the bigger than 500 cow farms, their barns have automatic manuer and floor cleaning systems that run 2 or more times per day. The cows are free, and again there are legislated floor to cow ratios. There are several milking parlour systems. The current systems have free automated milkers. This means that the cows, of their own free will, can walk into a milker and be milked when they want. Even these systems still have a milking time because some cows do not use this system. At milking time, a bell sounds (as before the floor cleaner) and the cows line up and herd themselves into the parlours. Only a few scragglers need to rounded up. The pushing and bawling often shown on t.v. is actually all of the cows own doing. Often because they can't wait to be milked. They are milked twice a day.

With the automated milkers the cows get far less teat disease/rot.

Cows diets are very regulated.

Milk is extremely regulated to be medication free. If it tests to some part per whatever, it gets dumped/treated as sewage. My husband works in a dairy and he alone dries over 500,000 litres of milk a day and there have been times over a million litres of milk gets dumped because somewhere, at some time a trace (and I believe its some part to a millionth) of medication.

The instances where the need for medication in these larger herds is very low because of the cleanliness of the barns.

I could go into pig farming, but I won't because this post is long enough.


I have been to small farms. The conditions are no where near as clean, the food and water are often of dubious nature, and a whole lot more.

Both kinds of farms treat calves the same way, as do any milking farm.

I've been in farms that are so huge you'd have no idea! And I lived in an area which still had a few family farms. The truth is, these farmers are pushed out of business because they can't keep up or offer their animals the same conditions.

My parents had two farms. One, they raised flocks from Paris France in order to mix genetics here (to prevent genetic disease), the other was a hobby farm. Dad would make it clear that the extra money from their bigger farm allowed them to finance the proper barns and such for their smaller farm.


In general the animals at either farm were less loved, and I think that is systemic. The truth is that the finances made it nigh impossible to actually run the small farm so that my parents could sustain their hobby farm. And my parents were not an oddity.


Make no mistakes, there are bad bunches in the business. But the truth is, with so much transparency demanded by public, legislation and the media, the bigger farms get watched to an 'nth degree and on a daily basis are much better for the animals health. Their frequent surprise and not surprise inspections promise that. The smaller farmer doesn't have that. And you'll find that the bad apples are more frequent there. I speak from experience.

In the 10 years my parents ran both of their farms, their small farm was never once inspected. Their large farm? Upwards of 6 scheduled visits a year, and at least 3 surprise visits a year. A fail of so much, the flock is rendered useless, destroyed (yes, murdered if you want to call it that) and no money for my parents.

I realize that I speak for Ontario farming practices and have not been in the United States. But our regulations are not too far off the mark. I do know we do not allow many of the hormones allowed in the States.

I applaud animal activists in getting better conditions on the books, but I also mourn that in the process the family farm has been quickly lost.

saracidaltendencies
03-10-2009, 10:29 AM
Thank you for your input and sharing your experience, Songbirdy.

I still want to make it clear, however, in what I have stated, I'm not singling out farming. I'm not so naive as to believe there are absolutely no companies that follow strict regulations and humane practices in regards to the treatment of their animals. I know there are. However, there are companies who get away with a lot behind closed doors (again, not specifically farms, but companies in general, that deal with live animals).

I appreciate those of you who wish to try to make me realize that not every farm indulges in inhumane practices, but, I am already fully aware of this and do not have a problem with the companies who have adopted humane practices. My problem stems from the companies who DON'T adopt humane practices. And, those companies that don't adhere to strict regulations or have any regard for the life of animals take part in some of the most sickening practices.

As I said before, I have done a ton of research and while I may not be knowledgeable enough in regards to the extent of the humane practices, I know there are companies that do NOT abuse, torture, or treat their animals inhumanely and I applaud them for that. I just wish such companies were in the majority.

Once more, to be crystal clear, my posts are in regards to live animal businesses in general, not specifically farms and certainly not the farms/companies who adhere to strict regulations.

Furthermore, I will not publicly discuss this issue further because this is one of those issues I am incredibly passionate about, therefore, I run the risk of letting my emotions speak loudest.

If anyone feels they must convince me (though I am fully aware) not all companies have adopted inhumane practices, I ask that you do so through PM.

On a final note, thank you to those who have adopted humane practices, I truly hope you will serve as an example to those companies who haven't adopted such practices.

evona
03-10-2009, 10:35 AM
That is very interesting Songbirdy. Interestingly, you reminded me that we just passed legislation here in California that egg laying chickens can not be kept in battery cages. It also included legislation on veal crates and gestation crates for sows, but those practices were already quickly phasing out in California voluntarily, so the chicken issue was the one hotly debated, especially because of the language of the ballot. [ (from ballotpedia) Prop 2 created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. ] California egg farmers that practice free range feeding argued that this language would affect them when couping their chickens for laying and at night and would suffer much more losses. I am interested in finding out what you know about battery cages and/or coups Songbirdy. They sound like an insane way to keep a chicken to me, but I'm no farmer.

Among other arguments against the proposition was that it would simply make California laid eggs more expensive, but people could still buy eggs imported from other states that didn't have to adhere to the new law and therefore would be less expensive. The argument would be that egg farmers, who have already exited en mass before now, would simply move to a state where the law wouldn't affect them and still sell their eggs to the California market and that the consumer would still buy the less expensive egg more regularly than the more expensive egg - especially in this worsening economy. Therefore, the California Ag economy would suffer, but the people would consume the same product - no reward.

Interestingly, here's the information I found out about where California gets eggs from - and it seems that the California egg farmer does have a point about us Californians simply being able to buy from another state where the law doesn't apply:

From http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_2_(2008)

Currently, about half the eggs consumed in California are produced outside the state. The provisions of Proposition 2 would not apply to out-of-state egg producers.

Egg production in the state is concentrated in Sonoma County, the Central Valley and Southern California. San Joaquin County produced an estimated 34.5 million dozen eggs in 2007, worth more than $25 million to farmers. Eggs account for a little more than 1 percent of California's $32 billion annual farm production. The state's egg industry employs about 3,000 people.

The top ten egg-producing states in the country, ranked by number of active hens, are:

* Iowa, 52.6 million laying hens
* Ohio, 25.6
* Indiana, 23.8
* Pennsylvania, 20.5
* California, 18.3
* Texas, 14.1
* Florida, 10.4
* Nebraska, 9.9
* Minnesota, 9.7
* Georgia, 9.5

Only three of the top 10 egg-producing states allow for citizen initiative (California, Florida and Nebraska).

ETA: BTW - the ballot has already been passed, so I'm not voicing any argument about what should or shouldn't be law, but I am interested in finding out about the practices and the opinions of those who know - cus I sure don't :^) I feel like we (as people) get emotionally charged about many issues that we may not know much about and therefore may not fully understand so I wanted to get the real scoop on coups ;^).

Songbirdy
03-10-2009, 11:07 AM
Well, I farmed the meat chickens for my uncle and he had several other farms. He has the kind of barn that I believe is the kind you mentioned. [My family is big into poultry, my husband's family into pigs, and our close friends meat cows, and my husband works in the dairy industry. That being said, we farmed in the Old Order Amish area of Ontario, and my closest friend for 4 years was very old order and I know how a small farm works very well... to the point that I attended barn raising bee's, canning bee's, and other such old fashioned things ;) ]

Here's what I *know* first of all there was over 300,000 laying hen's in those two barns.

Again, mandated amount of space per bird. I do believe I heard that the same cages in other countries had (I believe) over 6 times the number of chickens in the same cages.

The chickens get feed on demand. Water on demand. There are belts that run under each cage to take away the manure. The air quality in those barns is amazing. Always clear, very minimal smell (because the manure is dry and removed from the barn very quickly). And because they can't reach their 'poop' they don't eat their poop. I forgot to mention in both kinds of farm, chickens in the wild eat stones, etc. We actually put that into/on top of their feed. They've actually figured out what size is needed for what age/type/size of chicken and so you get chick grit, hen grit, and layer grit... Makes wonderful stuff for getting feed trucks that slide off the drive way in the winter out of the snow!

It takes 6 persons to run that set of barns. Each cage is checked 2 - 3 times daily (less amount on weekend and holidays).

The eggs are packaged automatically (belts and such) with in minutes of being laid during the day, and I believe... with in the hour at night. They are then quickly refridgerated. So the health of humans are not compromised.

Again, chickens do flock together and in a set of four cages, you see that they all meet together in the intersection of the cages.

Unlike my meat barns, the sides don't go up and down so they aren't as exposed sunshine. But these do get weekly vitamins. [okay, don't read some of this as me feeling that this is good!]

Mortality is very low, I think you get 3% mortality on a flock that lives in excess of 1 1/2 years. My flocks were anywhere from 4 - 8 weeks, typically 5 - 6 weeks.

The watch closely for things like moulting, self-pecking, etc. In generaly, these are beautiful looking birds.

My uncles grows these chickens from hatchery... and I have to say, I personally find their conditions as clean as they can be for an animal and definitely cleaner than if they were roaming outside. And cleaner than the meat birds on my farm because they have dry cages. The bottoms of the cages are very carefully designed to keep the birds legs healthy. A bird that can't stand... doesn't lay eggs! Plus you don't get the canibalism because the deads are removed.

Because you can track when medication clears a chicken's system, and check for trace in the eggs... they operate hospital cages too... Even on a farm of this size, if you can you save the chicken. True, to lay again... ;)

I saw less plucking in these cages. Chickens have (and this is where the term comes from) a pecking order. In these cages, one of the things you watch for is a bird that is at the low end of the pecking order and you re-arrange the cages so that like birds are together.

Again, water is carefully tested and he has his own wells, etc. Um... Same regulations on manure... Feed is the monitored the say. I hadn't mentioned earlier, but each load of feed is tested many times and you keep samples of each load. This is to check if animal parts entered their feed supply, as well as pesticides etc. Any contamination does result in the flock being destroyed.

These are the birds that become pet food at the end of their lives. The diseased ones are destroyed (usually burned).


I have to say that my main issue with this kind of farming is the root cause that feeds existance of these barns. My uncle was recently approached to build more of these barns. You should realize that a transport truck a day of eggs leaves this farm. Each chicken laying an average of 1 egg (that doesn't change and is constant no matter what).


We don't pay enough for our food. We eat too much. We eat too much meat. And the hue and cry consumers make over these points is what drives this need for food production! It is the other reason that the small farms are left behind and dying.


For the record, my husband and I are members of a local produce buying co-operative and my home-schooled children and I work very hard volunteering to grow, expand and sustain this program. We raised our own cows and chickens, hand fed, and ate that meat until we moved to the city.

Here is an interesting note:

Once, I think in '99 we had a major winter storm and the province was without hydro for a long time. The hydro crews worked around the clock to restore electricity. In all cases... electricity was restored to the big farms before cities... Not all of the city, but residential areas.

We (as in me personally) had a special, special phone number and if there was ever a hydro emergency, I could get people from the hydro company out within the hour and we lived 45 minutes away from the nearest po-dunk town. [Because we always had to be within 10 minutes of the barn to get the emergency generators up or to double check them in the case of the automatic generators, we wouldn't leave unless we had someone else there or there was virtually no chance of an emergency]

Mike
03-10-2009, 01:10 PM
All of the chickens were caught in darkness to reduce flock stress and prevent injury.
I think people unfamiliar with farming don't realize that according to the animals stress is the worst torture.
And naturally actual torture would cause stress.

A recent hog farm abuse case had employees doing things that would stress the hogs so much that according to my friend would kill them besides the injuries causing infections. That's going to show up in the bottom line and those employees will be gone even if an inspection didn't catch them.
Most of the factory hog farms I know of work on profit sharing so the employees have a big incentive to get the hogs to market alive.

The hog factory my friend works on has over 10,000 hogs. I don't imagine he has much time to waste abusing them. And the amount of drugs needed for a simple disease brought on by stress spreading through that number would cut into his pay check.

His previous factory farm birthed and naturally did the things about factory birthing people claim are abuse. Things that are required to keep the piglets alive.
People not familiar with them don't realize animals are not always nice to each other and left to their own devices will kill each other.
I know how it was when a friend went from a dozen laying chickens to a couple hundred meat chickens.

A long time ago I was looking into small sheep farming and the numbers needed to make a living was outrageous. I think in addition to the regulations the cost of living has helped drive small farms out. 100 ewes could make you a low wage living in suburbia. It wouldn't make you a good enough living to pay for pasture. Even at those 'low' numbers it's a 24/7/365 job.
The 100 ewes are your future income, their 200 lambs are your present income. If you have rams no matter how much of a pain they are, they are your everything, producing your future income and helping protect your present income.
It wouldn't do you any good to abuse them.

evona
03-10-2009, 02:06 PM
That is so interesting Songbridy thank you so much for your insight. So sad about the small farmers.

I agree that we (the general we) as consumers demand a lot and are very disconnected from the process of getting that food to our plate. In general we like our chicken sandwiches, omelets, etc, but we don't like to think about the life of the animal providing that food. As a whole when we go to the store we don't choose the more expensive free range eggs or the more expensive organic products. The stores doing best right now are not stores specializing in organics, but stores specializing in low prices for large quantities. Partly its a necessity to buy the less expensive food. We only have so much income. but it is a choice.

The disconnect also occurs in our belief about how animals should be treated. I am a vegetarian for personal reasons, but I don't preach and I know that animals on a farm are not pets and are not going to be treated like pets. I am simply one of those people who did look at her chicken sandwich one day and wondered about the life of that chicken. When I didn't like what I found out I didn't get mad at the farmer. I figured the choice was mine as a consumer and I chose not to consume meat products. I still eat eggs and I do admit that its hard to buy the more expensive cage free eggs in today's economy, but I still believe the choice is mine to live with whichever carton I ultimately buy.

I have a friend who helps her father on his organic dairy farm on the central coast here. She said its used to be a pretty regular occurrence that some fool comes by and cuts their fence so that the cows can go free. She said that those people are idiots. the cows on her farm are well treated because they couldn't afford not to treat them well and certainly the cows don't know what to do when they get on the highway. Plus cows will get into all sorts of trouble when not contained, destroying stream beds and other people's property.

Sorry if I took this thread onto another topic here, but I suppose ti relates to sheep farming as well. In the end it seems like from all the posts that the method of castration they showed on Dirty Jobs just doesn't make sense. I am not saying it never happens anywhere, but it seems like the regulations in farming in general and the high efficiency standards that just seem like a gimme when managing a large number of animals would make that manner of castration stupid. I imagine that a person who bites sheep testicles probably would get a fair amount of ribbing around the bar after work too. :wink:

bambi
03-10-2009, 04:57 PM
Songbird Lady, thanks for taking the tim eto explain those farming practices. I know it takes time to write out all that information.

Bailsmom, I knew a family that raised a steer to slaughter each season. The band that they used for banding reminds me of a Cheerio, about the same size and guage. There is a plier thing that spreads the band to a bit larger than palm size. The band is slipped over the testicles, cuts the blood supply off and the testicles just fall off. The animal did not even seem to notice.

I used to circumcise babies and, yes, I used PLENTY of local anesthetic but I'm quite sure it still hurt like hell sometimes!!!! I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore.

Maybe you should change the channel when dirty jobs comes on and/or it involves animals.

Bambi

Songbirdy
03-10-2009, 05:03 PM
Yes, the theme of this thread has twisted :aww: perhaps some of the reason the internet can be so frustrating. I've had that happen to some things that I had posted in a home-schooling forum.

That being said... I agree with you Evona. There was a point where you did raise your own chicken. Or, gathered its eggs.

I know when I did that, gathered my own eggs... I was very careful how I used them. :lol: it meant a big deal if I saved up eggs to make your birthday cake!

We saved our eggs, rarely ate them outside of baking, and only had enough to bake on Saturdays and then when that was gone we ate fruit or apple sauce that I had canned that fall.

When we butchered our cow we had a certain amount of free eating with the meat, but then... started to ration it carefully so that the meat would last us the two years we needed it to last.

Then there was the time that my brother-in-law moved in with us for a bit. I had canned a total of 16 bushels of fruit that fall for my family... and within about 2 weeks he ate about 1/4 of my work. I was livid!

That being said, I've found that I can't sustain that level of food preparation myself. The times when I've lived like that were when I lived in the Old Order community and I did the work in partnership. I think, that fall my friend, her mother and two sisters and I "put up" about 80 bushels of fruit. We also processed 3 cows for their families, and since they don't make it easy to use freezers (they could rent freezer space from me) most of that was boiled and canned.


Anyhow, I don't know why I journal that stuff here... other than to say that because we don't spend so much of our time and efforts on just sustaining ourselves... on things like food, clothing and warmth... we are far to presumptuous at to what we can have, on what we think we need, and what we should pay to get it.

If you read that post about the Waldorf educated children learning to knit and how in Grade 5 they had to knit their own pair of socks and that takes them on average the whole year... that is a *huge* thing for those children to learn and comprehend.


The abuse that our culture creates is huge in any and almost all forms of industrialism, whether it being related to food & farming, housing, or 'stuff' stuff, and more 'stuff!'

I am constantly amazed at how ignorant I am myself and am glad that we are slowly making changes because of the efforts of people to expose things for what they really are!

I get right irritated when people act the way that farmer did on Dirty Jobs. Sensational for television! No kidding... Did it get a lively debate going? Sure did... But was it accurate? Probably as accurate as some of those other shows we see...

Grr!

bailsmom
03-10-2009, 05:58 PM
Bailsmom, I knew a family that raised a steer to slaughter each season. The band that they used for banding reminds me of a Cheerio, about the same size and guage. There is a plier thing that spreads the band to a bit larger than palm size. The band is slipped over the testicles, cuts the blood supply off and the testicles just fall off. The animal did not even seem to notice.

I used to circumcise babies and, yes, I used PLENTY of local anesthetic but I'm quite sure it still hurt like hell sometimes!!!! I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore.

Maybe you should change the channel when dirty jobs comes on and/or it involves animals.

Bambi

Bambi, I did change the channel, but as I said in my original post it was on and I was watching and I could never have imagined in a million years that man was going to do that to that poor animal.

Which is why I started this thread in the first place. To be educated by people who run farms and to find out if this was a normal practice or an inhumane way to castrate an animal. And all it did was get people upset because they voiced their opinions on matters that weren't part of the original post. I'm sorry I even started this thread in the first place. Lesson learned on my part.

Mike
03-10-2009, 06:02 PM
When we butchered our cow we had a certain amount of free eating with the meat, but then... started to ration it carefully so that the meat would last us the two years we needed it to last.
I hunt my meat (whitetail) and I don't have a problem needing to ration it.
I had the opposite where I had to get creative to use up that much grinder meat.
From what I remember on sides of beef it would be the same issue with a cow. Too much hamburger.

Then there was the time that my brother-in-law moved in with us for a bit. I had canned a total of 16 bushels of fruit that fall for my family... and within about 2 weeks he ate about 1/4 of my work. I was livid!
And here I am making apple and cherry pies for every family get together begging people to send me home with no pie and they never listen yet I hear how after I left a great niece came in looking for pie.
I am getting sick of pie.
I got sick of apple sauce really quick.
I'm really glad I started pressing cider which can use up apples really fast.

A little help goes a long way, if for nothing else to keep you working. I do most everything with no help. On one particularly large deer I called in some help and just someone there to wrap as I cut got it done in no time.

I get right irritated when people act the way that farmer did on Dirty Jobs. Sensational for television! No kidding... Did it get a lively debate going? Sure did... But was it accurate? Probably as accurate as some of those other shows we see...

Grr!
I found a video where the guy from Dirty Jobs was talking about it.
I think it's worse than the farmer sensationalizing to get on TV.
The guy from Dirty Jobs knew about banding and when the farmer originally bit them off requested a banding. So the farmer did it wrong to put the lamb down in pain so he could go back to using his teeth. (One of the replies said it must've been done wrong because they just banded and none went down.)

Why would a farmer who's normal practice was to use his teeth have a band and pliers in his pocket?
He used a knife so why finish with his teeth?
I think banding was his normal practice just like it's the normal practice for the majority of others and he wanted to "green the city slicker" into biting them off.

Tropicflower24
03-10-2009, 06:42 PM
Castration of that kind *isn't* common, but there are some people who do it this way. They seem to beleive it's the most humane, as the fallacy of "the human mouth is extremely sanitary" was once widely spread.

As a farmer - or I should say a farmer's daughter - I can tell you that this isn't the way we take care of our goats or sheep - but I have the freedom to farm the way I wish - and I like that. Therefore I don't comment on this other then saying Eww.

Jenelle
03-10-2009, 08:55 PM
The first time, and only time, I had seen this episode of Dirty Jobs I was so appalled. I can honestly see why people would get so upset over this, because it just seemed a little more inhumane towards the animals than it needed to be, especially whenever banding would have been simpler.

I have never saw this type of practice before, nor has anyone in my family. I was raised on small farm based meat coming from my mothers uncle or the Amish. My father hunted white tail, and we usually gardened or bought enough vegetables to last us until the next growing season.

I know when I did that, gathered my own eggs... I was very careful how I used them. :lol: it meant a big deal if I saved up eggs to make your birthday cake!

I've always wanted to gather my own eggs, but with my mom deathly afraid of anything with wings, no fresh eggs in the morning! :teehee: I do give you kudos for explaining the process of raising meat chickens. It's been over two years since we have switched to going to the Amish for getting our eggs instead of the grocery. I have even been able to see the living conditions at over 30 farms for chickens, and they have it made. We were just there last week when the father was out throwing down grain for the chickens, which freely roamed in and out of their coups.

Crycket
03-13-2009, 04:53 PM
Wow...I am learning so much about farming....*smiles*

Only on KH....*smiles*

OffJumpsJack
03-13-2009, 04:55 PM
Okay, I know about farming in as much as we kept cows & steers for meat (sometimes got milk too) and cut and baled hay for the cows. For a short time (a year or three maybe) we had chickens for eggs and meat. I want to thank Songbirdy and Mike for sharing farming practices. That filled in some missing information for me. I'm still a meat-itarian (as a recent commercial coined the "phrase").

One point that Songbirdy made is that we consumers look for the bargains. What about the cost of importing vegetables, nuts, and fruits? How are we changing our planet to get bananas, brazil nuts, cashews to the grocery stores? Everything has a cost and even plants are alive.

If you don't eat meat, where do you get your needed protein and fatty acids?

I have never understood vegetarianism since even eating fruit, vegetables, and nuts still involves killing a living thing. I see cows, chickens, deer, sheep, and goats as food and nothing more. Is there a difference between a cow and a head of lettuce? Sure, there is size and audible communication among others, but I still see both as food. Pigs are quite smart and are smarter than dog (or at least most dogs). I'll still eat pork but I wouldn't eat a dog.

I guess it is because it is because of how I ate as I grew up. I honestly don't think it is cruel to kill an animal just to be able to eat it. I do value and respect its life enough to use as much of it as possible and to not waste it.

In the USA and other highly developed nations, cheap energy has made it easier for one to buy food than to raise it oneself. It has also made it easier to be a vegetarian if one so chooses. That is why I ask what variety of food one must eat as a vegetarian to get the needed protein and fatty amino-acids. Would one still be a vegetarian if one could not raise one's own food?

It really comes down to economics. It takes energy to build homes, transportation, and tools. If we do not find an alternative to oil energy, are we willing to live in a way similar to the Amish? Global oil supplies are projected to last another 50 to 65 years at the current rate of production and usage. I own a 1999 Saturn SL which I find easy to maintain and it averages 34 mpg (6.8 km/L or 2.9 gal/100mi).

But perhaps this is twisting this thread in a new direction that it doesn't need.

--Jack

evona
03-13-2009, 07:41 PM
Crycket - Yes - I love this thread for that reason. I know that it seemed to go beyond what bailsmom intended the thread for though. But I'm still grateful for all I've learned :aww:

Jack - I am a vegetarian. I don't eat much cheese and I have never been a milk drinker (I was allergic as a kid), but I do eat eggs. That is only one protein source I have though. I also get protein from nuts, tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans and soy products other than tofu. In actuality, 2 eggs would give the average person enough protein - since I am not a person who works out heavily and I don't have a job that requires much physical exertion I get plenty of protein easily. If I were very active I would have to watch my intake much more carefully.

I agree about buying all those vegetables and fruits from oversees. Big grocery stores stock vegetables and fruits that are out of season by importing from places like chile. Not only do those fruits taste horrible after traveling so far but imagine the cost and the environmental toll of that shipment. I would rather buy in season produce from a farmer's market. I was incensed a few months ago when I realized my local Trader Joes was selling garlic bulbs from CHINA!!!! WHAT???!!!! I live in California. Gilroy is only a few hours away and is the Garlic capital. Not to mention the fact that out here in California growing seasons are long!!! It could not have been cheaper to get that garlic from China! Come on??!!!! We weren't having a garlic shortage or anything. No other store that I went to was selling Chinese garlic. I put that garlic down and have never bought garlic from Trader Joes again. If I am not buying from my farmer's market I am also much more diligent at asking where the produce comes from now too. Even at farmer's markets I ask where there farm is located and tend to frequent the ones closer to me.

Knitting_Guy
03-13-2009, 09:44 PM
Isn't television great?

Debkcs
03-15-2009, 04:00 AM
:roflhard: Mason!

I have to add, though

I used to circumcise babies and, yes, I used PLENTY of local anesthetic but I'm quite sure it still hurt like hell sometimes!!!! I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore. I agree, Bambi, glad I don't do that anymore.

I've got a lot of respect for the farmers I buy our meats and vegetables from. If I don't know the provenance, I don't bring home the food. It's not hard to find out where your food comes from, where your local farmers markets, etc., are.

OffJumpsJack
03-16-2009, 01:30 PM
I had the unpleasant misfortune of watching Dirty Jobs last Friday and they showed these farmers - A.K.A. sheep tortureres IMHO - castrating these poor baby sheep with THEIR TEETH!

Isn't television great?


It is not just television, Mason. Haven't you seen Deliverance?

Kattra
03-16-2009, 11:47 PM
I gave up reading on page two... All I have to say is don't beleave every thing you see on tv. And if you really want animal faber and want to know exactly where it comes from raise and spin it your self...