Factory Farming Changing Its Ways
Anyone who has watched the movie Food, Inc. and other documentaries or docu-dramas that chronicle the realities of animals that end up on our plates or in our wardrobe would have caught a glimpse of the cruelties in factory farming: chickens in crowded cages inside barns with no windows, beef cattle transported by forklifts because they are too diseased to walk themselves into the slaughterhouse, and many more scenes that continue each day without a film crew capturing it for public viewing.
Change is slowly taking place, however. New York Times news service reports that factory farming is becoming healthier for both animals and people. Erik Eckholm writes: "Concessions by farmers in this state (Ohio) to sharply restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves are the latest sign that so-called factory-farming is on the verge of significant change."
Apparently, a rare agreement between farmers and animal-rights activists has been reached. This concession on the part of farmers most likely came about because of the increasing consumer awareness of the health and environmental hazards that come from intensive, large-scale, high-yield, volume-based farming. The public is also increasingly becoming more aware of the widespread use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock that are raised without organic certification.
Conventional chicken and egg farmers in Ohio aren't pleased but admit that they must "bend with political and cultural winds." Tim Weaver has a facility that houses hens that lay eggs. Weaver says that after his initial shock at the agreement, he has accepted it as necessary. In order to get the happy chicken/not-so-happy farmer reality, something's gotta give! Still, he defends his conventional farming methods by saying: "My own belief is that I'm doing the right thing."
Since his chickens won't immediately benefit from the change, (seeing that the "agreement" allows existing egg farms to continue with conventional practices, only barring new ones with similar cages) his 4 million chickens that produce 3 million eggs every day will continue to do so in a condition in which 268,000 small white hens live in cages about the size of an opened newspaper; that's six or seven chickens to a cage.Continued on the next page