A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Feds Shut Down Slaughterhouse

Central-valley-slaughterhouse-082112Yet another undercover investigation, more video horrors, and now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stepped in and suspended operations at the Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif.

An investigator from the animal protection group Compassion Over Killing got a job at the slaughterhouse and took several hours of video in June. The Associated Press reviewed the video and wrote this: [readon]

One worker appears to be suffocating a cow by standing on its muzzle after a gun that injects a bolt into the animal’s head had failed to render it unconscious. In another clip, a cow is still conscious and flailing as a conveyor lifts it by one leg for transport to an area where the animals’ throats are slit for blood draining.

… The videos show workers pulling downed cows by their tails and kicking them in an apparent attempt to get them to stand and walk to slaughter. Others shoot downed cows in the head over and over as the cows thrash on the ground. In one instance, the video shows workers trying to get cattle to back out of a chute while repeatedly spraying them with water and shocking them.

… Within hours of seeing the video, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General sent investigators who found evidence of “egregious inhumane handling and treatment of livestock.”

California’s Central Valley is “home” to 1.6 million dairy cows on any given day. When they begin to slow down on milk production, the cows are sent to places like Central Valley Meat Co. to be slaughtered. Most of them are old and exhausted from having given birth so many times. Each time they give birth, the calf is taken away from them. Male calves, who can’t become dairy cattle, are raised in a veal crate that prevents the youngster from exercising. At the same time, he’s given food that under-nourishes him in a way that will make for the pale-colored meat that’s considered good for fancy veal dishes.

Ironically, going from meat to dairy is, on balance, a crueler alternative.

Any of us who consume dairy products are contributing to this horror. Many vegetarians feel they are helping animals by giving up meat and eating dairy – usually more dairy than when they were still eating meat. Ironically, though, going from meat to dairy is, on balance, the crueler alternative. That’s because most beef cattle spend the early part of their lives on cattle ranches, where they can at least be together, walk around, chew on grass, and so on. Later they go to the factory farm feed lot, where they have a crash course in overfeeding and are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, leading, months later, to their death.

But dairy cows at factory farms spend their whole lives in a world of pain – bred to have huge udders, continuously giving birth and having the calves stolen from them. By the time they’re sent to slaughter at places like Central Valley Meat Co., many of them can barely stand up. And hence the horror that the undercover investigator witnessed at that facility.

For thousands of years, cows were seen as symbols of motherhood – like the great mother goddess Hathor. They are deeply emotional beings who form strong emotional bonds with their young and nurture them in large extended families. But today all of this is lost. These mothers are just resources. We force them to bear calves, take the calves away from them, steal the milk for ourselves – for ice cream and pizzas – and when the mother cow is beyond exhaustion we drag her away to slaughter in the most appalling of conditions.

One of the greatest things we can do to not participate in the abuse of animals is to quit being patrons of the dairy industry. So, to any of us who’s going veggie, switching to dairy is not a move that helps the animals. Ultimately, a fully plant-based diet is the only way to go.