What a fascinating year it’s been for the Slaughterhouse Reform movement and more widely, for the growing global farm animal welfare movement that continues to propose root-and-branch change for the farming industry and in increasing instances, brings about that change.
What are five key events this year?
The cage-free egg movement has been on fast track! Early in the year, Mcdonalds announced that its New Zealand restaurants would switch to cage-free eggs by the end of 2016. The company has 164 outlets in the country, serving almost 13 million eggs in menu items like Egg 31, 2016. Taco Bell is aiming to be the first national quick-service restaurant chain to completely complement the chain, ahead of Panera’s and Starbuck’s plan to do so by 2020 and McDonald’s overall goal to reach 100% cage-free eggs over the next decade. Late October 2015, Rembrandt Foods joined the movement towards cage-free egg production. The US’s third-largest egg producer announced a major new cage-free egg farm by year’s end.
There is scientific evidence that supports stunning before slaughter. At a public policy exchange symposium on animal welfare, Donald Broom asserted that it was scientific fact that animals are not desensitised by the specific cutting technique used for Shechita. While other critics have argued there is no definitive proof that animals experience pain, they have all failed to cite reputable sources. 2015 was a remarkable year for Donald Broom who added to the volume of scientific evidence that stunning is necessary to desensitise an animal before slaughter and is arguably the foremost expert in this field. 2015 will be remembered as the year that scientific evidence weighed in favour of stunning before slaughter.
Undercover welfare charities exposed factory farm conditions in full. Only pigs in movies spend their lives running across sprawling pastures and relaxing in the sun. On any given day in the U.S., there are more than 65 million pigs on factory farms, and 110 million are killed for food each year. PETA footage revealed that mother pigs (sows)—who account for almost 6 million of the pigs in the U.S. for example—spend most of their lives in individual “gestation” crates. These crates are about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide—too small to allow the animals even to turn around. After giving birth to piglets, sows are moved to “farrowing” crates, which are wide enough for them to lie down and nurse their babies but not big enough for them to turn around or build nests for their young. Pigs were castrated in the most god awful ways. Luckily, piglets are not castrated in the U.K. or Ireland, and the European Union is phasing out the practice by 2018. PETA footage revealed that Angora rabbit farms in China were host to some of the most extreme practices of cruelty. Footage showed how rabbits had their fur pulled from their skin while they were alive and then put back into their cages to regrow hair. 2015 will be known for a year where secret footage exposed the reality of factory farms across the world.
Fashion companies took a stand against farm mistreatment. Actress Jane Birkin threatened to remove her name from luxury group Hermès handbags after it was discovered that a Texas crocodile farm supplying reptile skin to Hermès did not meet animal welfare standards.
Her threat came in the wake of a video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix showing how live reptiles were skinned or sawed open on farms that supplied luxury brands. The crocodile-skin Birkin bag is one of the most desired items in the luxury goods market. Therefore, Birkin’s threat was taken seriously.
Hermès warned the farm that it would cease business relations with it if the recommended procedures continued to be ignored. Subsequently, the farm implemented the recommendations properly and Hermès were happy enough with the changes made to the slaughter process of crocodiles. Birkin has since allowed her name to be used for the bags again.
Meanwhile…Halal slaughter has gone up by 20-30% in the past year. This market is expected to grow even more, however, there was no evidence to say that this increase marked a rise in non-stun slaughter.
Our fight goes on here in the UK.