This man’s town has a community garden – does yours?
This man’s town has a community garden – does yours?
Saw this while on Facebook – can’t believe some people still go for this sick, cruel way of “farming” – it’s not farming, it’s animal cruelty! Name and shame time! And yes, that is me ranting at the bottom. Probably going to get kicked off the group for those comments but who cares! I feel what I feel, and what I feel is disgust for factory farming.
What you see in the picture are cages for industrial egg production. The hen spends virtually her whole life in this cage, just laying an egg a day which rolls down into the gutter in the front. This is to save money, because God forbid we actually give people jobs! No, some people would rather just implement this way of “farming”. Disgusting. Hope no one buys their eggs.
Get a big patch of grass and a cozy barn and do it the right way people!
This is a tough subject to speak about, but I will do my best. My intention is not to make anyone feel guilty about their milk consumption, but rather to state the facts about the dairy industry and leave people to make up their own minds. Solutions are at the end because I try not to make people despondent but rather raise awareness of problems and provide some solutions. If you have any ideas on how we can farm more humanely please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no such thing as humane dairy farming. Calves are weaned almost immediately so that the milk that should be theirs can go to us. They are often fed milk replacer which is the equivalent of us feeding our children formula. Not that great. Male bull calves are often sent off to be processed as veal, or sent to a feedlot. The cow is kept pregnant for most of her life till she gets “spent” and is turned into low grade meat. This is after about 4 years. Cows that are not raised this way can live up to 25 years. Cows form an emotional bond with their calves, and make the most heart wrenching sounds when separated from their calves. They get separated from their calves very early to make it easier on them before they really bond with their calf. Some cows have been known to destroy fences to get to their calf.
The veal industry is a by product of the dairy industry. Many calves that are going to be turned into veal are kept in crates so that their muscles become softer from lack of exercise. Sickening. I have never eaten veal and never will. It is disgusting. But I eat lamb, so not that great. But let me stop with the self flagellation of my eating habits, and try to improve my consumer choices. My ideal is to be semi vegan, eating meat occasionally from an animal that has died of natural causes or old age. I will do my best to find a farm that sells this type of meat for anyone that wants to do the same. And remember, if you support Ethical Suppliers and spread the word we can unite consumer buying power under one umbrella and eventually bring about the changes that we want to see in the food production industry.
I digress -back to the dairy issue: so in order for us to enjoy what used to be a luxury and is now taken for granted, cows are sometimes raised in the most deplorable conditions. Many dairy farms keep the cows confined in barns and their life is as follows: eat, get milked, eat, get milked. When the supply goes down they get a break, then they get impregnated and it’s back to the grindstone. Free range grass fed milk comes from slightly happier cows, since they at least get to graze in the pasture, enjoy a bit of sun and a nice breeze. Free range farmers usually farm for the joy of being around animals so they are often kinder to their animals.
Shoppers love a bargain but cheap milk comes with a heavy concealed cost. In the past 10 years, half of Britain’s dairy farms have closed, taking with them both an essential economic generator and part of the character of the countryside.
To remain viable, farms are becoming ruthlessly productive, moving their cattle from the fields into giant sheds where they are milked for every last drop. The once-comforting sight of a herd of cows grazing in a sun-dappled meadow is disappearing from our landscape.
So don’t think I am condemning your milk drinking – I drink milk too. It makes a cup of tea all that better. But I will look for an alternative to milk and I strongly urge you to do the same. Or at least cut down on your milk intake. If we all do what we can to cut down on our meat and dairy we can improve the lives of millions of farm animals everywhere because less of them will be needed. Then we can still milk cows, but not as much. And don’t just buy the cheapest, buy the most ethical product. Consume something that came from a good place and as happy an animal as possible. If we demand better treatment of farm animals we can really make a difference. So if you don’t want to give up meat and dairy, at least make it free range.
It is the least you can do.
Links for more reading
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/dairy-industry/ (this video showed cows wading in runny manure – lovely! But not as horrible as the skinny overmilked cow at the end. Try not to buy dairy products till you know how they were produced!)
While doing research for an article I came across information about bull castration. Most bulls are castrated when they are very young with various methods. I wanted to know if this castration was necessary, or if it was a result of high density farming, ie feedlots. Would bulls with more space and a more natural environment still require castration? The answer is that bulls are castrated so that they put on more fat. Bulls that are not castrated spend more time looking for a mate and fighting than eating and putting on weight for a juicy steak.
Angus McIntosh, a Western Cape farmer who runs a biodynamic farm, was kind enough to shed some light on the situation. He says:
The most important reason for castration is that a bull does not get fat and you need fat for flavour. In addition to that bulls like to fight and of course have a well developed libido and so spend their time sniffing and hassling the cows whilst the oxen just go on their way getting fatter.
A common practice is to put an elastic on the calf at birth. I don’t like this because then you lose the benefit of testosterone which gives the animal a bulkier form than being an ox from birth. Ideally the bull is castrated at 5 months and then has a few months on his mother to recover before he is weaned.
The way we castrate is by using a rectal immobiliser to that they cannot move. We then use a tool called a Burdizzo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burdizzo to crush the vas deferens.
What the industry wont tell you is that they don’t mind getting bulls into the feedlots as the growth hormones http://www.merck-animal-health-usa.com/products/130_163380/productdetails_130_163790.aspx that they inject into every single animal in every single feedlot sterilise the animals and so you eventually get fat oxen without the hassle of castration.
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If you have any more questions or opinions, feel free to post them below.
This article is to educate consumers about how their beef gets to their plate in an effort to get consumers to “vote with their fork” and support more humane and natural ways of raising cattle for meat products. Organic, natural, pasture reared grass fed beef is better – not only because the animal’s diet is better but because the environment and lifestyle is more natural. Animals can express the Five Freedoms. Factory farms such as Karan Beef and Manjoh Ranch in South Africa are called feedlot farms, and produce as much as 80% of the country’s meat, according to some sources.
But how are the living conditions for these mass-production farms, aka factory farms? Does your beef come from a happy animal?
Your steak started as a calf – whose mother was artificially inseminated with sperm from a good bull. Good meaning good genes and all that. For six months the calf drank milk and ate grass in the pasture (hopefully) with his mother. If he had been a girl, he would have had a different life but that is a different story for another article.
After a couple of months (used to be a couple of years back in the day but these days, well, profit rules…) the calf is taken to a backgrounding pen. This is what can be called Feedlot Factory Farm School. The calf now has to learn how to eat corn. That’s right, learn. Because calves are not meant to eat a lot of corn and can develop a severely bloated stomach (rumen actually) and if not treated could even suffocate. But usually the bloating and acidosis is treated with antibiotics and care and the calf, now a bull calf, starts to adapt to this horrible new life.
After a while he is whisked off in a cramped uncomfortable truck to the feedlot farm and this is where it all gets even worse. In the more massive factory farms there could be hundreds of thousands of cattle, but even an amount of say 20 000 is a lot. And this is only because of the huge demand for meat. We eat more meat than we ever did and our appetite for meat will only get better as it becomes cheaper and cheaper to produce beef. Or if the standards drop even lower.
On the feedlot the bull will eat a diet composed of grass, corn (about 50% corn), alfalfa, soy and other sometimes very unsatisfactory ingredients to fatten him up to slaughter weight in the shortest possible time. The quicker he can get to slaughter weight the quicker another bull can fill his place and that means more profits for the factory farm owner.
After a miserable life of no shade, boiling heat and/or freezing cold, unnatural diet and drugs, the bull is led in a long line to get slaughtered. The fear is unbelievable, as you can imagine if you were standing in line to die, and sometimes the slaughtering fails so the bull is still alive when hanging in the line to get his throat cut.
Not all factory farms practice all the procedures detailed above, and not all farmers are just in it for the profits, but the situation above is all too common around the world and needs to be improved. Many people experience a strong reaction when seeing feedlots such as Karan Beef and Manjoh Ranch. We encourage all farmers to be transparent about their farming practices so that consumers can make informed choices.
To help end the inhumane treatment of farm animals, switch to free range, organic pasture reared grass fed beef – all or any of those terms can be used to describe what is basically just a more naturally, humanely produced meat. Ethical Suppliers has a whole lot of suppliers that you can support, many of them who are small local farms that don’t farm as intensively or inhumanely as the factory farms.
Deep down we know that organic food is better but many skeptics feel that buying organic food is not really much more nutritious or not that much more contaminated with pesticides and the like than conventionally grown crops. They probably don’t want to acknowledge that we have serious problems in this world and the way our food is grown is one of them.
When we talk about organic here on the site it is just a word to mean many things. What we are actually trying to say is “this food is grown as naturally as possible”. And yes, many of the suppliers listed on the site are organic, but they don’t bother to get expensive and time-consuming certification.
So what is organic farming like? Well for starters, organic farmers don’t need to use a plethora of deadly chemicals to kill pests and weeds because healthy plants are able to withstand the ravages of pests quite well on their own. How did we manage to grow food for ourselves before all these harmful pesticides came about? Yes it was more labour intensive (job creation so not a problem) and yield was less but we are still alive and kicking and here to stay. Birds, wasps and other animals and insects help to keep the pest population down too. Weeds are controlled by cover crops, mulch and other methods.
One of the biggest problems is healthy soil. We have to remember that there are MANY similarities between plants and us. Organic matter such as manure is required for healthy soil, not chemical fertilizers. You know you can’t survive on vitamin pills, and plants don’t do so great either on their equivalent of vitamin pills – chemical fertilizers. Yes, they may grow ok, even to a large size, but it is what is inside that counts. Another massive problem is that chemical fertilizers are bad for the soil bacteria, earthworms, fungi and other things that help a plant to grow really well. It is not just about their roots. Research soil microbiology, fascinating subject if you are into that sort of thing.
There is a lot of debate over whether or not organic is more nutritious but I think that the answer is clear – produce grown in good soil, enriched properly with organic fertilizer such as manure or vegetation, and where herbicides don’t damage the soil, can only produce more nutritious food in the long term than conventionally grown produce. The land must still be left to lie fallow so that it can recover. Organic or not, you still need to adhere to good farming practices. So getting definite answers is very tricky because of all the variables but to me it is common sense what method produces better food in the long run.
One source, American food philosopher and journalist Michael Pollan, says
he became an advocate for organic and home-grown food after he encountered a mass-scale cattle feedlot that turned his stomach. His other turning point came when he saw an enormous potato farm in Idaho, where fertilisers and pesticides were pumped over the crops by a remote-controlled computer.
“What they were pumping onto the crops was so toxic that the farmers would not go into the fields for five days after spraying,” he recalls. “And for their own consumption, the farmers were growing organic potatoes in a small patch beside their house.” New South Wales farmer John Reynolds, whose Nashdale Fruit Co sells naturally grown potatoes through farmers’ markets around Sydney, says he stopped producing commercial potatoes after tiring of being encouraged to grow oversized, flavourless crops.
The supermarket type of spud is generally grown in a grey soil that’s very sandy,” he says. “They do that because they can feed them up with fertiliser, which makes them grow very fast and very big. And that’s why supermarkets charge $1.50 to $2 a kilo for them. They’re force-fed.”
He says his potatoes, which include varieties such as Dutch cream, kipfler and purple congo, taste better because they are slow-grown. “People come to me and say, ‘My God, these are the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten’,” he says.
Organic food is an industry just like any other which means it can also be corrupted so don’t think that if you hear one bad story about organic food that it is a cause not worth supporting. And don’t think too badly of conventional farmers either, many of them use good agricultural practices. At the end of the day, factory farming is factory farming whether it is organic or conventional. Rather support the organic fruit and vegetable farmers listed here on Ethical Suppliers because most of them are organic in spirit – it is not just a label for them and they truly care about the environment. Remember that we list suppliers here on a trust basis so if you find out that a supplier listed on the site is not actually ethical, let us know.
On this site we try to only list companies that raise animals naturally and don’t adhere to the minimum standards (barely) as set by the government but instead take pleasure in providing great environments for their farm animals. But at the same time we are logical in our approach and know that it will take a while for the food industry to be completely revolutionized and for things to be the way we want them. So we list companies that we know aren’t perfect, for example free range eggs from chickens that don’t really go outside the barn but at least aren’t raised in cages and have a bit more space and fresh air and natural light. Not great, but better than cage raised and in some cases this is the best that people’s budgets allow for. So we don’t condemn suppliers for not being “perfect” we still list them, because we need to start somewhere. It is our sincere hope that this website can help to FOCUS people’s attentions on the plight of non free range animal products, and gradually guide them from the ugly products to the bad products to the good products.
Astral Poultry supplies many of the big retailers – Pick n Pay, Checkers etc. They have the Festive brand, Goldi, County Fair and then there is their free range offering, Mountain Valley. A while ago I interviewed their Operations Manager to find out how the free range chickens fared in comparison to their other offerings and their standard of living is a little bit better. They have more space and there is an outside pasture area. But many people complain (rightly so) that even with more space the free range standards are still not that great and sometimes the chickens won’t go outside because they either find it difficult to shove their way through the crowds or they don’t want to leave their food and water for fear of missing out.
Yet if people were encouraged to support free range wherever possible, even when the chickens are not that free, it allows people to unite and use their economic buying power. If we all stop buying non free range then these large corporations such as Astral Poultry will have to expand their free range operations to meet the increased demand. And that is how you improve lives – little bit by little bit and not getting frustrated because things aren’t immediately perfect. To see the best example currently of free range egg farming, check out Farmer Angus on this site.
So thank you for supporting free range and continue to buy the best quality that you can find and afford and slowly, together, we will revolutionize the free range and organic food industry.
We have recently updated our website – have you seen it recently? It is now much easier to find what you are looking for. You can view all the listings in a particular province, or you can use the TAGS. Each post (free range food, organic, natural or ethical supplier listing) is tagged with keywords. Go to the tag on the left to see all keywords. As you are viewing the listings, the system helpfully generates suggested pages for you based on what you are currently looking at.
We welcome new listings and will add pretty much any ethical company worthy of business.
This is definitely one of my biggest issues with non pasture reared beef. A while ago I had a great idea in my head to help factory farmed beef lead healthier lives, and ulitmately produce more nutritious meat – I was going to try and get the municipality to sell their grass cuttings to the factory farm for next to nothing. I figured that factory farmed beef, which is produced on what is known as a feedlot (such as Karan Beef and Manjoh Ranch), would really enjoy a chance to eat their natural diet of grass and not corn based meal (with ANIMAL by products sometimes added – insane, since cows are HERBIVORES) and the municipality chucked their grass on the rubbish heap anyway – they would love the chance to get a bit of cash for it. Hell, they might even give it to the farm for free!