The Humane Treatment of Animals vs. Factory Farms

The first questions we have to ask ourselves; do animals have rights, do they have feelings, do they feel pain, do they need as we do? To find the answer, one needs merely to think back on empirical data if one has ever owned or been around an animal, a dog or a cat, or horses or farm animals. Take for instance a mother cat. When a mother has kittens, she looks for a sheltered, warm, safe place to do so. When they are borne, she cleans her kitten instinctively until the sac it is born in is eaten and the kitten mews loudly, letting the world know she is alive and hungry.

If the mother feels her babies are threatened, she will move them to a safer place, averting danger. If anything threatens her kittens, she will fight to the death to protect them. If any animal is in pain, it yelps (a dog), or mews (a cat), or moo’s (a cow). When a cow is separated from her calf, she bellows, likewise, the calf balls for its mother. When any animal is cold, it will look for shelter, in the bushes or leaves or a barn.

If a puppy mill gets shut down because of its appalling conditions, such as the birthing dogs living in their own feces, and very little space to live in with no shelter, the community is outraged (some are not, I suppose) and the dogs are taken away to better homes. Animals do feel pain; they instinctively care about the members of their herd or litter. They hear and see, they suffer and feel. They form bonds to man, that if broken, they too suffer feeling of loss or abandonment. Most community’s or state’s have laws in place on the ethical treatment of animals. As long as they are used as pets or bred for pets.

On the other hand, the treatment of animals raised for meat production is largely unregulated (Herzog and Golden, 2009) ie. factory farms. Factory farms; poultry-turkeys, chickens eggs, beef, pigs and dairy—their goal is to raise as much livestock in as little space as possible for as little time as possible, for as little money as possible so the bottom line is bigger. Because they are in such a small space, chickens get their beaks clipped so they don’t kill each other. When they go to slaughter, the room is darkened so they are calm (http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=u-uYSafpKmk). Use of antibiotics is a

necessity with factory farms, to stave off disease of so many animals living so closely together. And the list of horrors grows longer. Watch a clip from this film and if you can, check it out from your local video source and watch the whole film: http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=yh8c9OUti4c In factory farms, animals are products or commodities, not animals, not pets; they have no rights. After watching some of these films, you get the sense that the world has gone askew some how. That something has gone terribly wrong. You get the feeling that animals are raised in some sort of concentration camps, tortured for life, and then killed.

Is an animal raised in such a way, healthy to consume? Large corporations that run factory farms can run so cheaply that they have driven the small farmers out of business (Andre’ 2009), which is a sad derivative of factory farming. Their excuse is “Who else is going to feed the world” (http://www. tyson. com/Consumer/CoreValues. aspx)? A hundred years ago, when people had family farms, everyone grew and raised the food they would consume. They raised their own cattle, sheep, chickens, and pigs and grew a garden. If they wanted something they weren’t raising, they often traded a neighbor for it.

County fairs were a place to show off your ingenuity in farming and husbandry skills. Enter the Industrial Age and WWII. Factory’s to get food to the soldiers sprung up everywhere. Convenience food was born and embraced by the ‘modern’ woman. People moved into the city and had to buy food for the first time. People forgot about farming because they didn’t need to. There are some farmers who have stuck it out and still run their farms with humane treatment in mind. The philosophy is that happy and content animals make great food. So do we really need to eat animals anyway?

With such global access to so many different kinds of food, there is absolutely no reason for westernized country’s to have to eat animals. The new food pyramid called MyPyramid (MyPyramid. org) displays 6 colored bands that represent the different food groups. The protein band, which is purple, lists not only meat and fish, but also beans, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs as protein sources. There are many meat analogues made from soybeans or wheat, which are very popular and are found in the frozen breakfast isle at your local grocers. Utilitarian’s would say, “No, there’s enough food, you

don’t need to treat animals the way we’re doing for food or experiments, but it needs to be implemented in small baby steps so as not to hurt the welfare of man also (Francione, 1997). But if there are starving people in the world and they painlessly kill and eat an animal is morally permissible to do so. Tom Regan, and animal rights proponent argues that “what is important for moral consideration are not the differences between humans and non-humans but the similarities”-the ability to experience life and to care about oneself regardless of what anyone else thinks, this in and of itself deserve moral consideration (http://plato.

stanford. edu/entries/moral-animal/). Animals, Regan says, have value. Consider factory farming, the most common method used to convert animal bodies into relatively inexpensive food in industrialized societies today. An estimated 8 billion animals in the United States are born, confined, biologically manipulated, transported and ultimately slaughtered each year so that humans can consume them. The conditions in which these animals are raised and the method of slaughter causes vast amounts of suffering.

Given that animals suffer under such conditions and assuming that suffering is not in their interests, then the practice of factory farming would only be morally justifiable if its abolition were to cause greater suffering or a greater amount of interest frustration. Certainly humans who take pleasure in eating animals will find it harder to satisfy these interests in the absence of factory farms; it may cost more and require more effort to obtain animal products.

The factory farmers, and the industries that support factory farming, will also have certain interests frustrated if factory farming were to be abolished. How much interest frustration and interest satisfaction would be associated with the end to factory farming is largely an empirical question. But utilitarians are not making unreasonable predictions when they argue that on balance the suffering and interest frustration that animals experience in modern day meat production is greater than the suffering that humans would endure if they had to alter their current practice.

( http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/moral-animal/ Bentham would say, because he likes quality, and if he likes meat, that it will be alright to humanely raise animals for food. He would have his servants out in the fresh hay-filled barn massaging his beef with beer like the Kobe steaks are. His barn would be cooled in summer, heated in winter to make all of his animals happy, therefore, good to eat. Because of the 7 circumstances from Bentham, he would not at all approve of factory farming, because it doesn’t start well and doesn’t end well for any of the animals involved.

(see Bibl. below) Deanda Jones Bibliography Western Carolina University, Journal of Social Issues, Harold A. Herzog and Lauren L. Golden Vol. 65, No. 3, 2009, pp. 485—498, Andre Peter, Alternatives Journal Feb2009, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p14-17, 4p http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=u-uYSafpKmk http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=yh8c9OUti4c mypyramid. org http://www. tyson. com/Consumer/CoreValues. aspx) Animal Rights Theory and Utilitarianism: Relative Normative Guidance, Gary L. Francione, 3 Animal L. 75 (1997) Publish Date: 1997 Place of Publication: Lewis & Clark Law School