Defending the kingdom | Issue 12

Defending the kingdom | Issue 12

Finding fundamental fault in factory farmed foods

Everyone has that flatmate who took BSNS104 in first year and talks about demand and supply. (Actually, it doesn’t explain why you ate my soup when it was clearly labelled, but thanks ...) This principle states that an increase in consumer demand makes businesses increase output in order to supply accordingly and maximise profit.

Over the past 50 years, demand for meat and eggs has increased enormously. So, to keep up, businesses have turned to “factory farming.” This means keeping animals indoors, in smaller and smaller cages, to produce as much meat and eggs as possible. It is the biggest source of animal cruelty in the world, and over 100 million pigs and chickens are subjected to this in New Zealand alone every year.

A pig is kept in a crate so small that she cannot turn around. She becomes so bored and depressed that she chews on the bars of her cage. Can you imagine being the victim of such treatment, even for an hour? Her babies are taken at four weeks old, and she is then impregnated again. This account is not an exceptional horror story. It is standard industry practice in our country. A living, breathing being with more intelligence than a dog or a three-year-old child is reduced to a production unit.

88 per cent of NZ’s eggs come from hens kept in cages where they cannot even flap their wings. Several other hens share these cages, and each has less space than an A4 piece of paper. Three million hens are being kept like this right now. Just for a moment, imagine being locked in a telephone booth with 11 other people. Beaks are removed without anaesthetic.

“Broiler” hens are chickens raised for meat. They are slaughtered at six weeks old, but by this point they have been pumped so full of hormones to accelerate growth that they are dying under the weight of their own bodies. Broken bones and the inability to walk are common. Note that layer hens “exhaust their profitability” at eighteen months of age and are thus slaughtered, but a chicken will naturally live for up to eight years. This is where the demand for cheap meat and eggs has taken our country.

Remember the NZ Herald story about “chick-shredding?” Male chicks are put into a shredding machine and ground up alive, because they have no commercial value as layers or broilers. It takes at least ten seconds for them to stop feeling pain.

Most people fawn over puppies and kittens, and then buy cruel eggs and meat. The argument “I can’t afford to buy free-range” is reasonable. Genuine poverty is a serious issue. However, most Scarfies who say this buy alcohol every week. So, wonderful students of Otago Uni, all I’m asking is that the next time you go to put those cheaper eggs and bacon into your trolley, just consider who is really paying the price.
This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2014.
Posted 4:32pm Sunday 18th May 2014 by Libby Larsen.