Beef Production on Factory Farms
In 2010, 34.2 million cattle were slaughtered for beef in the United States. Often beginning their short lives on rangeland, calves are soon separated from their nurturing mothers and endure a series of painful mutilations. Before they are a year old, young calves endure a long and stressful journey to a feedlot, where they are fattened on an unnatural diet until they reach “market weight” and are sent to slaughter.
- After being taken from their mother, calves’ cries can be so intense that their throats become irritated.
- Calves raised for beef may be subject to a number of painful mutilations, including dehorning, castration, and branding. Even though each of these procedures is known to cause fear and pain, pain relief is rarely provided.
- Because it is thought to improve meat quality and tenderness, male calves are castrated at a young age. Methods include removing testicles surgically with a scalpel, crushing spermatic cords with a clamp, and constricting blood flow to the scrotum until testicles die and fall off. Each method is known to cause pain that can last for days.
- Cattle in the U.S. are often branded by having an iron hotter than 950 °F pressed into their skin for several seconds. This is done so that beef producers can identify cattle and claim ownership.
- Between 6 months and a year of age, cattle are moved from pasture to feedlots to be fattened for slaughter. Calves gain weight on an unnatural diet and reach “market weight” of 1,200 pounds in just 6 months.
- The majority of cattle are fattened in feedlots in just four U.S. states. Since calves are born all over the country, they often endure long and stressful trips from their place of birth to these states without food, water, or protection from the elements.
- Once they reach “market weight,” cattle in the beef industry are trucked to slaughter. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act requires that livestock be rendered insensible to pain before shackling and slaughter; however, investigations have found that some animals are still conscious when they are shackled and have their throats cut.