Guilt Trip Part One Continued: Cows.

Oh cows, they are so delicious, aren’t they?

Free range cows, don't they look happy?

“Cows have strong emotional lives.  They form relationships with two, three, or four other cows, and if permitted, will spend most of their time together, often licking and grooming each other.  On the other hand, they can form dislikes to other cows and bear grudges for months or even years.  More remarkably still, cows can get excited when they solve intellectual challenges.  Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, set cows a problem–to work out how to open a door to get some food–while measuring their brainwave patterns.  When the cows solved the problem, Broom reported, ‘Their brainwaves showed their excitement; their heartbeat went up and some even jumped into the air.'” (Sanger).

“Animal behaviorists have found that cows interact in complex ways, developing friendships over time, sometimes holding grudges against cows who treat them badly and choosing leaders based upon intelligence. They have complex emotions as well and even have the ability to worry about the future.” –NZ Dairy Cruelty

“When they are separated from their families, friends, or human companions, cows grieve over the loss. Researchers report that cows become visibly distressed after even a brief separation from a loved one. Cows are especially dedicated to their young and the bond formed between a mother and her calf remains long after the baby has grown to adulthood. Separation causes them tremendous stress and agitation. If mother and calf are separated by a fence, the mother will wait for her calf, even through harsh conditions like intense heat or cold weather, hunger and thirst. Cows have even been known to break fences and walk miles to be reunited with calves that were sold at auction. One can imagine the trauma a dairy cow must feel when her calf is taken from her shortly after birth. It’s well known to farmers but rarely discussed that mother cows continue to frantically call and search for their babies for days after the calves have been sold off to veal farms.” –Global Action Network (Check out this link for other sweet facts about cows)

Like chickens, cows are emotional creatures, intelligent creatures, who we justify slaughtering because they just taste too good.  Cows are the second most farmed animal in the US after chickens.  For me, it’s not so much the fact of slaughter as the process.  It is natural for humans to eat meat, but the way we produce meat is not natural.  It’s really too bad.  Consider what you’ve just read about cows intelligence, or Google “cow intelligence” and see for yourself, it’s agreed upon.  But once again, we should ask ourselves, is intelligence what really matters?  Can this animal suffer?

“‘Cattle pens stretch to the horizon, each one home to 150 animals standing dully or lying around in a grayish mud that, it eventually dawns on you, isn’t mud at all…’ [Cows] now [eat] corn kernels, together with a daily dose of antibiotics to enable them to survive on this diet. Dr Mel Metzen, the staff veterinarian at Pokey Feeders, told Pollan that a great many of the health problems that he and his eight assistants have to deal with stem from the diet. ‘They’re made to eat forage… and we’re making them eat grain.’ Ruminant animals have a digestive system that has evolved to break down grass.  If they don’t get enough roughage, they develop lactic acid in their rumens, which creates gas and causes ‘feedlot bloat,’ a condition so severe that cattle can suffocate from it.  Liver abscesses are also frequent.  Putting cattle on a corn-based diet is like putting humans on a diet of candy bars.” (Singer).

“Researchers from the Department of Animal Science and Food Technology at Texas Tech University studied the use of shade in feedlots.  The study divided cattle into a group that had shade available and one that did not… The cattle with shade available ‘used the shade extensively’ from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, following the shade as the sun moved.  Cattle without shade were four times as aggressive to other cattle than those with shade.  But the research also noted that ‘In west Texas, shade is generally not used in commercial feedlots because it was not thought to be cost effective.'” (Singer).

Feedlot Cattle.

And their slaughter?

“Temple Grandin surveyed American slaughterhouses to find out what percentages of animals are rendered insensible by the first application of the stun-gun.  In her first survey, in 1996, only 36% of slaughterhouses were able to effectively stun at least 95% of animals on the first attempt.  Six years later, 94% were able to do so.  That is a dramatic improvement…despite the improvement, setting a standard of only 95% of animals being stunned on the first attempt ‘still indicates that hundreds of thousands of animals were not stunned on the first try.” (Singer).

“In theory, in kosher slaughter animals should be killed quickly and cleanly by having their throats cut with a single slash of a sharp knife.  Unconsciousness from loss of blood to the brain should follow within a few seconds.  In the video, however, cattle who have had their throats cut and their tracheas removed still thrash around for a long time before they die.  Some struggle to get to their feet–and even succeed in standing up.  While this happens, a worker waits for the animal to collapse so that he can tie a chain around its rear leg and hoist it off the ground.” (Singer).

Check out the video below.  It’s your responsibility.  And while doing so, recall the facts of their intelligence and emotional capabilities.

AgriProcessors is the world’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, and it’s owner has stated that ‘what you see on the video is not out of the ordinary.‘” (Singer).

Here’s another video which is also particularly gruesome taken at a Kosher slaughter house.  It is worth noting here that these slaughterhouses are held to a higher standard than the average slaughterhouse:

And what happens to cows who are too sick or weak or injured to move (considering their diet and shelter, this is not so rare)? The “downer cows”?

But cows don’t want to die.  In fact, there are many stories of cows committing daring escapes from slaughter houses.  They are intelligent enough to realize that what is happening to them isn’t right, and feel the urge to escape.  That is not a characteristic of a dumb, docile animal.  You can read about some of the tales here.  Or you can do your own light research.  Trust me, a simple Google search will supply enough information to last you the afternoon.

Thinking about cow intelligence, and their capacity to feel deep emotional as well as physical pain, do these videos have any affect on you?

It is probable that anyone who eats meat will, unknowingly, from time to time be eating meat that comes from an animal who died an agonizing death.” (Singer).

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