News

Livestock Farming Raises Animal Rights Concerns

Most kept in small cages allowing for little movement

Most eggs in India come from intensive facilities, not roaming village chickens, a transition which is happening in much of the developing world.
Most eggs in India come from intensive facilities, not roaming village chickens, a transition which is happening in much of the developing world.

Multimedia

Audio

As large-scale livestock farming spreads throughout the developing world, so does concern about conditions for the animals raised in these facilities.

Animal welfare groups in the United States scored big last month when fast-food giant, McDonald's, and major meat processor, Hormel, agreed to phase out the use of confining pens for pregnant pigs.

Changes are taking place in countries such as India and Brazil as well, where several companies have announced they would source their eggs only from farms that do not use cages.

Village chickens vs. mega-farms

These developments are happenening at a time when livestock production is changing rapidly in many parts of the world.

Meat consumption has grown sharply along with rising prosperity. More meat is now produced in the developing world than in the high-income countries.

In India, 80 percent of egg production takes place in battery cages, small wire pens which animal welfare advocates say barely give hens enough room to raise their wings.
In India, 80 percent of egg production takes place in battery cages, small wire pens which animal welfare advocates say barely give hens enough room to raise their wings.

But when you think of where meat, milk and eggs come from in some developing countries, you may have the wrong idea.

“You’ll think of these villages and these chickens running around underfoot," says Chetana Mirle with the Humane Society International. "But really, even in a country like India, 80 percent of production takes place in battery cages.”

Battery cages are small wire pens typically used at large egg-producing facilities that animal welfare advocates say barely give hens enough room to raise their wings.

Going the wrong way


They are banned in the European Union, and the U.S. state of California is phasing them out. But their numbers are increasing as intensive livestock farms begin operations all over the developing world.

“Instead of going the right way, they are doing what is being currently banned in other parts of the world,” says Tozie Zokufa, South Africa representative for the animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming.

Although animal welfare groups are more numerous in Europe and the United States, “As the consumption of products of animal origin is increasing in Brazil or Thailand or Indonesia, just to name a few, people are increasingly becoming more aware of how the food is produced," says livestock expert Daniela Battaglia with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

"They are increasingly asking for more values to be respected," she says, including respect for the environment and workers’ rights, as well as animal welfare.

Like the cry of a child

Zokufa used to be a government meat inspector in South Africa. One day while inspecting a slaughterhouse, he saw that a pig was not stunned properly before it was killed.

“And the cry. The cry of that pig. It was like a little kid, a little girl,” he says.

Zokufa says that experience made him stop and think. He saw animals being treated much better at slaughterhouses exporting meat to Europe and decided he wanted to change the way meat was produced for South Africa.

“I knew that I couldn’t do it in the position that I had at the time because I was just flowing with the system,” he says.

So he joined Compassion in World Farming, which opposes large-scale, intensive livestock operations.

Small farms or big?

Zokufa believes the better course would be toward small-scale farms that let animals roam free. He says they are better for the animals and the environment, and provide more jobs as well.

But a recent report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says there is no viable alternative to intensive livestock operations for feeding growing urban populations. Those farms simply produce more with fewer resources.

Intensification does not have to be a bad thing, says the FAO’s Daniela Battagila.

“You [do] not necessarily have to choose between food security and taking care of the animals," she says. "The two things can go hand in hand. Or even better, one can contribute to the other.”

FAO is promoting simple, low-cost techniques, such as more humane livestock handling and slaughtering procedures.

That could mean not only better conditions for the animals, but a better quality and more abundant supply of meat for the growing number of developing-world consumers who are demanding it.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Amanda
March 16, 2012 2:22 PM
Organic foods seem to be a better choice. And the organic farming needs our support. To pay a little bit more money will make us a healthier and more environmental word.

by: sjs
March 14, 2012 11:05 PM
Animals are being abused very very badly and widespreadly,especially in China.

by: Eileen Chapman
March 14, 2012 8:17 AM
Great Tozie...It is good to know you're doing such fine work spreading the word. I have listened to the broadcast and don't quite understand why there has to be increased supply for the grownig demand when clearly, as you know, man would be considerable healthier, eating much less meat. Why do most people think they HAVE to eat animals! It amazes me.

by: emilie
March 13, 2012 9:01 PM
who is he addressing as his audience in this article?

by: Bea Elliott
March 13, 2012 4:53 AM
"Meat consumption has grown sharply along with rising prosperity." And actually in more progressive nations meat consumption is decreasing due to the known health issues, environmental impacts, awareness of unsustainability and concerns for the animals.

"Meat" will be like tobacco - The more affluent countries will eschew their consumption - While U.S. and other wealthy nations push their poisons on to other nations.

by: Robert Makoi
March 12, 2012 8:10 PM
Zokufa is right, therefore he should teach sahara desert animal farmers how to raise livestock in the grass-less sandy soil!

by: BTF
March 12, 2012 11:52 AM
Anyone concerned about factory farm cruelty should OPPOSE recently introduced federal legislation, HR 3798, that would keep laying hens IN battery cages forever, while eliminating the rights of voters! Check out StopTheRottenEggBill.org to learn more and take action.

by: animal farm
March 12, 2012 10:48 AM
And God created the animals and he saw that they were good and tasty so god created man to rule over the animals and man created the meat grinder so he could eat pink slime and profit from it also.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs