It’s a widely accepted fact that high levels of stress in humans can cause heart attacks, elevated blood pressure, adrenal failure, and increased susceptibility to disease. However, humans are not the only life forms that feel effects and suffer the consequences of stress. Animals are just as susceptible to stress as we are, and though they may not outwardly show their stress the same ways we do, it has similar effects on their well being.
Most of the health problems that farm animals face are due to the fact that the majority of the meat that we consume in North America is produced by large, industrialized factory farms where animals are treated as units of production, where profit is more important than animal welfare.
The Reality of Factory Farms
In factory farms, animals are usually kept in cramped, unsanitary living conditions with no access to fresh air with restricted movement, injected with growth hormones, fed inappropriate diets, and even mutilated to prevent them from injuring themselves or one another and to facilitate forced feeding. These extremely stressful living conditions cause a whole host of health problems for animals.
The stress of poor living conditions causes many problems with animal reproductive health. Moldy feed, excessive heat and dampness, as well as viral and bacterial infections may leave individual animals or entire herds sterile, cause abortions and birth defects in offspring, and even lead to death.
Higher Incidences of Disease
Animals that are kept in unsanitary, crowded, and unsuitable living conditions are much more susceptible to disease. Cattle raised on feedlots frequently suffer from respiratory disease as a result of the dusty, dry dirt mixed with manure that they inhale. Being forced to stand in knee-piles piles of their own manure causes painful foot and tail disease. In addition, the unreasonably high milk yield of factory farm dairy cows often lead to mastitis, a painful disease of the udders. Rather than improving living conditions for animals, factory farms will inject them with regularly inject them with antibiotics to keep disease at bay.
Acts of Aggression
When animals are confined to cages and enclosures that do not allow them to carry out their basic needs, they often resort to aggression towards one another as a consequence of having to compete for space and resources. Pigs have a very strong instinct to root, and when they are not allowed the space to do this, they will bite each other’s tails; a behavior only seen in factory farming. Chickens that do not have adequate space to spread their wings and move about freely will peck each other, sometimes to death. Factory farming’s response to these abnormal acts of aggression is to dock tails and cut off beaks.
How McLean Does Things Differently
At McLean, we understand that animal health is directly correlated to the conditions that they live in, and the respect and dignity they are treated with. We don’t believe in “band-aids” like antibiotics and mutilation to deal with the health consequences caused by improper care for animals.
This means that we are extremely selective about the farms that we work with. We select Canadian and close-proximity American farms that share our commitment to natural, sustainable, and humane farming. Our animals never receive growth hormone treatments, or antibiotics in the feed, or other enhancement drugs like Paleane. They are all raised with plenty of space to roam, root, socialize, and bed and no animal is confined in cages or gestation crates. Plus, no animal is transported more than 3 hours to slaughter. Canadian and USA regulations will allow 10, 20 and even 30 hours for some species.
Our goal is to work only with North American farms that are Humane Certified but the over arching hope is that the Canadian and American governments adopt the Humane Certification standards as the new normal – the new base line for all farming.