Image credit: Ongehoord
When I posted video of a "humane" slaughterhouse, reactions varied from "meat is still murder" to outright respect for someone taking care to do the job right. But just what constitutes humane animal husbandry, and whether the term is just an oxymoron, remains a bitter point of debate among activists of different stripes. Unfortunately certification schemes can only take us so far. We already know that organic eggs don't always come from happy hens, now one activist group is claiming that cruelty is just as prevalent on organic meat farms as conventional ones. And they have video that they claim as proof.
Warning: This post contains graphic video imagery of animals in distress.
PETA reports that secret filming by Dutch animal activists has found cruelty to be "just as prevalent" on organic farms as conventional ones. The group Ongehoord (translation "Unheard") filmed 26 pig farms, and found animals in distress on all of them, including those certified organic and/or carrying the "Better Life" stamp from the Dutch SPCA:
Video taken on a farm belonging to a supposed advocate of humane housing for pigs shows baby pigs left dying, a sick sow left unattended while suffering a miscarriage, a struggling pig who was unable to stand, and pigs as they cannibalize sick cratemates. Ongehoord says that its investigation proves that all types of farmers "create a false picture of the pig industry" and that there is still no such thing as "humane meat."
It is, of course, hard to verify the exact circumstances in which these images were taken. Are pigs confined to such conditions 24/7, or is this night time accommodation? Were the sick animals eventually tended to? What does "just as prevalent" actually mean—literally that there were a similar number of documented cases of cruelty, or is this a subjective judgement by those doing the filming? A quick run through on Google Translate failed to turn up answers to the above questions—but I would be grateful if anyone who has either more knowledge of the investigation, or a better understanding of Dutch, could fill in the blanks in the comments below.
I am not for one second condoning animal cruelty, and I believe footage like this is crucial for putting pressure on farmers and legislators to improve animal welfare. (Which is presumably why so many vested interests are trying to make undercover farm photography and filming illegal.) I also believe that turning vegetarian or vegan is a very beneficial move for both animal welfare and environmental sustainability. But for this footage to work as "proof" that humane meat is an oxymoron, I think we need more information.
More on Meat, Dairy, Animal Farming and Sustainability
A Look Inside a Humane Slaughter House (Video)
Vegetarian Diet Could Cut Climate Mitigation Costs 70%
Shocking Video Shows Dairy Calves Bludgeoned With Pick Axe
Another Law Proposes Making Factory Farm Photography Illegal
Shocking Photos Reveal Organic Eggs Don't Always Come from Happy Farms