<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A comparison of factory farming Oz vs. U.S. 

A reader sent me an email, showing me the difference between what factory farming is like in America vs. how it is done in Australia. They also wanted me to say that they are "well aware that Australia certainly has chicken farms that are just as disgraceful as those found in other parts of the world," after giving me permission to post this excerpt. From what I have read, both in the news and from others who live over there, the industry in that country is better than some, and worse than others, I'm sure. Anyway, a big thanks goes to the reader quoted here for allowing me to use their words. I have had a number of enlightening "conversations" with quite a few people - you know who you are - that I enjoy immensely. I am glad to have so many intelligent people discussing these issues and doing their own research, as well as giving me inspiration and support. :) Thanks to all of you, too. (BTW - I remind everyone again that I will NEVER post or share with ANYONE anything from a private email without the author's consent, unless it has been posted elsewhere, like a copy of an article someone sends to me that they found.)

Now, both of these factory farming operations in both countries claim that the biggest reason for the way they conduct business is because their way is what they MUST do ( and is completely necessary, no less) to stay competitive and make money. Note the differences between each country's practices/policies and keep in mind that Australia is one of the last BSE-free areas in the world. Hmmm... Maybe they know something the rest of us don't? Maybe we should look to them for a change? You decide...

According to the reader's email, there are:

"...plenty of mum and dad farming operations and no real industrial type farming ops. They do exist here but are heavily regulated, including the animal feed industry. Australia enjoys a relatively clean disease free environment. This *image* (kind of like that of Qantas which has never had a crashed plane) seems to keep the regulators on their toes and other than poultry food (only 5% is animal proteins) all ruminant animals are grazed. Disturbingly though the feedlot is making an appearance but thankfully again is heavily regulated. It's only through sheer luck, the huge amount of land we have, and isolation that we haven't had the same sort of problems that you guys have and what happened in Europe. BTW the feedlots here are tiny compared to the monstrous ones you guys have and the animals are fed only a vegetarian diet.

Australian farmers are so concerned with BSE and other potential disastrous diseases that they take the issue quite seriously...various government agencies have put together bio terror plans in place to ensure Australia's disease free status and to contain any outbreak of any disease whatsoever. All sick animals are to be either immediately quarantined and or humanely destroyed.

I didn't get this information from a website, I just talked to the farmers.

The one chicken farm I visited was certainly an eye opener. For all intent and purpose it was your standard barn chook farm, but with a difference. There was absolutely no smell for a start, besides that normal smell of farm animals. The chooks were kept in two metal barns with tonnes of ventilation and between the two barns was a tough green belt that was fenced in. The farmer explained that they had changed the way they raised the chooks because of industry and consumers concerns over diseases and such. The chooks on this farm were rotated between the barns and the green area to ensure they had natural light, fresh food, plenty of ventilation and could have a fairly decent amount of space. This wasn't an organic farm either. As for the slaughter practices I couldn't tell you. But the round up of chooks to be transported to the slaughterhouse was done in a humane and rather ingenious manner. Just about 100% of the chooks (according to the farmer) absolutely loved their time out in the green area. So when it came time to ship his *grown* ones off to the slaughterhouse he simply used a series of variable sized doors to let the different grown chooks through then used a mechanical catcher to get the ones that were required.

And the reason why he changed to this type of farming? *money* He said that we are always looking into new and different ways to look after our animals and provide consumers with quality produce. We have a failure rate of less than 1% because we treat the animals with respect. This from an old chook farmer!!"

However, the reader also makes mention of a threat to this way of doing business:

"Already one of the biggest poultry concerns in the country wants to build a *massive* caged chook farm (which is worse than intensive barn) in country NSW. The residents of the country town don't want it. Animal activists are furious and the state government is in a quandary about whether to approve it."

Perhaps they should not look to America for how to do business, we certainly lose a lot more than 1% - a LOT more. NO intensive farming operation can be considered ultimately good for the animals forced to endure such conditions, but there are ways to make it better than what we currently have, WITHOUT the industry losing a lot of money. This is just one more example that proves it.

We can do better. We just have to want to. We have to care. Is that really so hard?

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