Read the facts about factory farming and watch the video at the end of this article!
Update Nov. 6, 2008: 6.2 million California voters agreed Proposition 2, the California Prevention of Farm Cruelty Act, should become law. The ballot measure passed with an overwhelming 63% of the vote.
California is now the first state to ban battery cages for egg laying hens. No longer will California hens live their lives in space too small for them to spread their wings. That is something.
With the passage of this law by voters, California becomes the 5th state to ban gestation crates for pregnant pigs, along with Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon. Small enclosures used on factory farms to confine veal calves are also now illegal in the state as well as in Florida and Arizona.
For more on this extraordinary law and how it will change the lives of millions of farm animals for the better, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update February 28, 2008: Thanks to your help Californians for Humane Farms has obtained nearly 800,000 signatures, far more than the 650,000 needed to get the California Prevention of Farm Cruelty Act on the November 4, 2008 ballot.
If passed by voters in the November, 2008 election, the Act would eliminate the worst of farm animal abuses: battery cages for hens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs and tethering of veal calves in tiny enclosures.
This ballot measure would prohibit the cruel 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.
Why Battery Cages for Hens are Cruel
The 300 million egg laying hens in the United States for the most part are crowded into battery cages, so small each hen has space less than 46.5-53 square inches of space, less than the size of an 81/2"x11" piece of paper. The cages are stacked, allowing excrement from hens in higher units to fall on those below. The wire cages cause injuries to their feet and legs and feathers. Heads, wings, legs and feet can become trapped in the cage.
Chickens are social animals. They are intelligent, curious birds. Hens will cluck to their chicks still in the shell; the chicks chirp back. In a battery cage they cannot even spread their wings. Ever. And the battery cages are not high enough for the hens to raise their heads or stand alert, important behaviors for them.
Battery cages prevent hens from engaging in other comfort behaviors such as preening, grooming, dusting, water bathing, feather ruffling, leg stretching and wing flapping. They cannot scratch, peck or forage. There is no question as a result these hens suffer great frustration, boredom, fear and stress.
Significantly, these hens are denied the ability to nest, to roost, causing intense suffering as they try to lay eggs in their tiny battery cages.
These birds are often deprived of food for as long as 14 days at a time to shock their bodies into producing more eggs. This practice is called forced molting.
These hens have no perches and no way to stretch, let along get sufficient exercise. The incidents of osteoporosis and broken bones are extremely high among birds kept in battery cages. Many of these hens are in chronic pain.
The entire social structure of the hens breaks down when they are forced to live this way. They not only suffer terribly but become aggressive as they try to get away from each other and engage in natural behaviors. To keep the birds from pecking each other, typically their beaks are cut off with a hot wire. Their beaks are sensitive, and many suffer excruciating pain and severe shock from this act of torture. These birds may live with the pain for years.
Research shows the cost of alternative means of egg production, cage free, barn or free range can be higher but would not significantly impact consumer demand and any price increases could be passed on without a decrease in profits.
Indeed, in a 2004 Golin/Harris poll for the United Egg Producers, 54% of consumers said they would pay 5 to 10 % more for eggs with the label "Animal Care Certified," even though they did not know what that label meant. 10% of participants in the poll said they would pay 15- 20% more for that label, and 77% indicated they would consider switching to a brand with the "Animal Care Certified" label.
Other research indicates consumers are willing to pay an average of between 17-60% more for eggs from non-cage systems.
The European Union will phase out use of battery cages by 2012.
Note that other housing like furnished caging or some cage free environments are better but still cruel. To read more about that, visit these sites: http://www.hsus.org/farm/camp/nbe/compare.html ; http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/farm/welfiss_mortality_egg.pdf
Why Gestation Crates for Pregnant Pigs Should be Banned
On sow farms pigs are confined in 2 foot wide x 7 foot long gestation crates for nearly all of their 4 month pregnancy. Pigs can weigh 600 pounds or more at the height of their pregnancy. These cages are so small the pregnant pigs can barely move at all. Certainly the pigs cannot even stretch their limbs or turn around let alone walk. The pigs cannot root, forage, graze or wallow. They cannot build nests. They can enjoy none of their natural social behavior and interactions.
Just before the pigs give birth, they are moved to farrowing crates which are small metal stalls. Once the pigs give birth and the young are separated from them, they are impregnated and returned to the gestation crates.
This is how they live.
Pigs are very intelligent beings. They suffer intense boredom, frustration, anger and even neuroses from such cruel confinement. Pigs cruelly confined this way engage in behaviors like bar-biting, headweaving, pressing their drinkers without drinking, and making chewing motions with an empty mouth, called sham or vacuum chewing. These pigs can demonstrate aggressive behavior as well. They also can develop apathy or nonresponsiveness. In other words, they give up.
The pigs also suffer health problems from the intense confinement and lack of exercise. They lose bone strength and develop osteoporosis. Their muscles become weak and atrophied. They suffer joint disorders and lameness. The pigs are in constant pain from pushing against the metal enclosure and lying on metal all the time. They suffer sores and injuries from the metal crates. Many pigs develop cardiovascular problems and urinary tract infections.
Studies show there is no economic reason not to use alternative housing methods that are actually less costly and can increase sow production. In a 2003 Iowa poll 77% percent of consumers said they would buy pork products only from food companies whose suppliers raise and process their hogs only under humane and environmentally sound conditions.
In 2002 Florida banned the use of gestation crates for pigs. In 2006 Arizonans passed overwhelmingly a proposition to ban gestation crates effective 2012. Oregon banned use of the crates this year. The European Union has banned use of gestation crates beginning in 2013.
Why Confinement of Veal Calves in Tiny Enclosures is Cruel
Veal calves are those male calves that are unwanted and removed from their mothers immediately after birth; they are confined often by tethers for life in tiny 2′ wide stalls where they cannot move. The close confinement is calculated not only to encourage weight gain, but also to keep their muscles weak to ensure their meat will be tender.
The calves are fed a liquid milk diet. The diet is deficient in iron and fiber and is actually designed to cause anemia to give their meat that light color. The calves are not given any bedding or straw for fear they will eat it and cause their meat to be dark. Instead, they lie on slats that allow their urine and feces to fall through to a pit below. The inadequate diet causes abnormal gut development and stomach ulcerations; the calves are prone to illness and disease.
The calves suffer great frustration, boredom, and stress as a result of isolation from their mothers and herd. They are prevented from grazing, grooming, stretching, all important behaviors for them. They enjoy no natural behaviors or interactions.
The European Union bans treatment of veal calves in this way.
Studies show a ban in the United States would mean a minimal increase in production costs for veal that could be passed on to consumers. Veal is an expensive meat anyway, and the price increases are likely to be felt only by wealthier consumers. A ban would mean a per capita increase in veal expenditures by consumers of $.06 annually. Surely that is worth it.
In a 1996 survey at the University of California, Davis, 74% of participants said they would support federal legislation to ban veal crates.