But for the sake of some little mouthful
of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun
and light, and of that proportion of
life and time it had been born into the
world to enjoy.
In some parts of the world, in the USA for example it is becoming increasingly more common to confine sheep in sheds much in the same way as cattle, pigs and poultry. In these conditions sheep have to spend their days on metal slated floors which results in lameness, here they never see the light of day or feel the warmth of the sun on their backs.
Feed lots normally associated with cattle are increasingly being used for sheep . Although not a method of farming here in the UK, sheep are kept in feed lots in some countries, including Australia and the USA.
Here sheep are crowded in to dusty, arid and grassless feed lots, whatever grass there once was has now gone trodden underfoot. All that remains is dust in dry weather and a muddy quagmire in wet weather. There are no trees to shelter from the heat of the sun or from the relentless downpour of torrential rain.
Here these poor creatures cannot graze naturally, instead food they do not normally consume is brought to them in order to quickly fatten them up for slaughter. Due to lack of movement, restricted by such close confinement they put on weight more quickly. Feed lot sheep, as with feed lot cattle, are reduced to little more than meat producing machines where in the misery of overcrowding, with no shelter or comfort of any kind they await their fate in the abattoir, or in the case of Australian feed lots to be transported over seas. More about live transportation later.
Although feed lots are not used here in the UK I have often seen sheep confined in pens with nothing more than mud upon which to sit and rest, no grass, just thick mud. Also sheep are let into fields to graze upon crops of turnips or Swede as you can see from the photograph below, although not closely confined as are their counterparts in feed lots there is no grass for them and in wet weather there is no where to stand, sit or sleep except in thick mud.
The picture below in a series from Animal Sanctuary, shows you the plight of a "downed sheep"
What is a downed animal?
Until compiling this webpage I was not aware of this particular form of cruelty, and no doubt this is the case for many people as it is just so utterly inhumane that you cannot imagine that the laws of so called civilised countries allow this to happen. I guess though if they allow Mulesing well... they will permit any form of neglect and abuse.
A downed animal, sometimes called downers, is a sick animal, it is a termed used by the meat industry to refer to animals who cannot even stand on their own because the poor creatures are so sick, diseased or disabled. They do not receive any consideration let alone veterinary care, instead they suffer dreadful abuse, left alone to die slowly and painfully as the sheep in the photo below. Each and every day thousands of animals in factory farms and stockyards suffer this shameful neglect
don't they at least humanely put the poor
suffering creature to sleep? The answer
to this question is that there is no
profit in doing so. Instead the sick
animal is dragged off to the slaughter
"Under current law, most downed animals are still sent to slaughter for human food—in spite of their tortured condition. Sadly, even sick and suffering animals spell profit to many in the meat and leather industry. Profit, not humane considerations, guides industry practice. From the industry perspective, there is no financial gain in euthanizing a suffering animal, but if that animal can be dragged, pushed or prodded onto into the slaughterhouse, a profit can be made. Because of this simple economic fact, there is little doubt that the abuse of downed animals is widespread across the country."
You may read the full article At Furry Friends Stand Up Against Animal Abuse!
http://protectfurryfriends.webs.com/factoryfarming.htm You will need to scroll down for the section concerning downed animals.
Generally this is a little known form of animal abuse from which mad cows disease may have originated. Mad cow disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is thought to have originated from the remains of diseased sheep, downers, being fed to cattle. Why? As a cheap protein supplement the purpose of which was to fatten cattle up quickly for slaughter.
Live exportation is another endurance test for both sheep and lambs. The EU allows sheep to be transported without food or water for periods of 14 hours in cramped conditions with no room to turn round or sit down. After an hour's rest sheep may well have to suffer a further 14 hours of similar treatment.
The UK Export about 800,000 live sheep each year for slaughter abroad. Australia is however the largest exporter of livestock.
Australia transports every year approximately 6.5 million live sheep to the middle east, North Africa and south-east Asia in the most appalling conditions imaginable.
Prior to the initial long transportation by road or rail sheep are confined to feed lots for two weeks, fed on dried pellets to get them used to this type of food, as this is the only food they will receive during the long trip by sea to their destination.
In extremely confined conditions of three sheep per square metre they are crammed into pens on multi decked ships. Sometimes these decks are enclosed, in such circumstances the temperature and humidity rises causing much suffering for these poor frightened creatures; many will die from heat stroke, pneumonia, dehydration and starvation. Here they stand cramped unable to move and have no choice other than to stand or lay in their own excrement which accumulates alarmingly as you will see from the photographs on the live transportation webpage of Animal Liberation Queensland website Exporting Live Animals.
These cramped and filthy conditions often result in sheep becoming trapped in excrement and under decomposing carcasses which are sometimes left to accumulate. Stuck in the vast accumulation of their own excrement, sometimes a foot deep with only six inches of headroom above and unable to move they may be trampled to death by other traumatised sheep struggling not to fall whilst trying to reach what little food and water is available. The problem is that live export vessels are equipped to feed only a portion of the sheep at one time, this causes competitiveness as the hungry animals struggle to get what little food there is and during feeding the desperate animals loose their footing and are crushed to death or suffocated as already explained.
These pens are not cleaned until the voyage is over and the sheep have been unloaded. The average voyage lasts for about 20 to 35 days, more if things go wrong and there are delays in offloading. Each sheep produces 500 grams of manure each day! Imagine the conditions for these poor suffering creatures. The accumulation at the end of the average voyage is over 1000 tonnes of waste.
But their suffering is even more shocking than that, left in their own excrement, in high temperatures hungry and dehydrated, the horror is compounded by disease and the terror of being thrown overboard alive to drown or be eaten by sharks, and even more horrific - sick sheep may be put alive through a mincer. That's right, sheep who are sick are thrown down a long chute whilst still alive to be ground to death, shred to pieces in a mincer! There is no time nor the inclination to even euthanize them first, here their is no compassion for these sentient feeling beings.
At sea, sick or injured animals are often thrown down chutes leading to a macerator that grinds them up and dumps their remains into the sea. On a recent episode of Australia’s 60 Minutes, an experienced rancher and veteran of many live-export voyages stated that these chutes can be nine stories high and that animals are often alive when they are thrown into the grinders. He explained, “What they do is, when they die and they’re out at sea, they drop them down a big laundry chute into a mincer at the bottom and it just smashes them up and squirts them out the side into the water. … It’s just like a laundry chute, opening door on each floor and you just drop them down. And in quite a lot of cases, the sheep are still alive. In theory, there is plenty of time to cut their throats and kill them first, but they just get put in the chute alive” (Carleton 2003).
Also see The Wool Industry:
Included in the link above is further information about the live transportation of sheep and a video: Pink Speaks Up For Sheep, the first section is a report about mulesing - more on mulesing on this website Liberate our sheep - the second describes live export.
You will also find further
information about the live
transportation of sheep in the link
In these appalling conditions 10,000 sheep die during transportation, about half of the total deaths is by starvation.
Upon arrival, delays result in further deaths; about 20 percent die in the unloading process. These ships often stop at four or five different ports which add extra time on board for the last sheep by as much as nine days. Some times the ships remain in port for weeks at a time (16 weeks in one instance) in cases where there are disputes, for example where there are claims that the sheep are diseased. The air flow is reduced now the ship is in dock and the increase in heat and humidity and lack of water results in further fatalities. The journey is of long duration which prolongs the suffering of course and increases mortality rate. The length of time from uploading to downloading is approximately 47 days: loading about 5 days, the voyage 32 days and unloading up to 11 days, more if there are delays, such as in one case where sheep had to wait 80 days in temperatures of 100 degrees before being unloaded.
Here is an instance of delays resulting in a further increase of suffering and mortality
"In 2002, 14,500 sheep reportedly died from heat stress while in transit to the Middle East. Their carcasses were thrown overboard. Between August and October of 2003, more than 50,000 sheep suffered aboard the MV Cormo Express when the Saudi Arabian government refused to accept the sheep because too many of them were believed to be infected with "scabby mouth," an infectious disease that results in sores and scabs around the animals' mouths. After nearly two months aboard this ship, with very little food and water, often in temperatures exceeding 100°F, the African nation of Eritrea accepted the sheep for slaughter.
Now having endured the appalling conditions of their transportation they are often dragged and rough handled, thrown into the backs of trucks. Most are kept for a few days in feed lots. Here 3 percent of them will die, many sheep are thereafter slaughtered but some will remain in feed lots, these unfortuante animals will face death by having their throats slit whilst still conscious for religious sacrifice. In Australia, Muslims accept prior stunning as long as the animal is unblemished however this is not the case in the middle east. It is far less cruel of course to cut the throat of an unconscious animal to reduce pain and stress. A conscious animal will feel the pain of the cut and the terror of bleeding to death.
following extract reveals shocking
cruelty to sheep.
In late 2003 more than 50,000 sheep languished at sea for months aboard the Cormo Express, an Australian “live export” ship.
Refused port by at least fifty countries, the sheep finally landed in Eritrea.
After the beleaguered sheep touched soil in the impoverished North African country, their throats were cut, one by one. That is, those who were still alive. Almost six thousand of the animals had died slowly and agonizingly beforehand aboard the ship.
They died of starvation, heatstroke, dehydration, or when their bodies could no longer take the stress of being locked in darkness amidst thousands of pounds of their own excrement, 100-plus degree heat, and no ventilation.
It was a direct result of the multi-million dollar a year wool industry.
An extract from The Not-So-Good Shepherd
Also see http://www.banliveexport.com/ for more information, photos and videos and action you can take:
Many of the websites cited above include action you can take to stop this dreadful cruelty, which like any other cruelty to any creature should not be allowed to take place or condoned by any civilised country. Note as you will see in some of the websites listed above cattle also are subjected to the misery of live export.
I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb.
Most sheep in one way or another unless they die of natural causes end their days in the slaughter house or the equivalent, even ewes who have born several lambs now exhausted and worn out from the abuse of artificial insemination and multiple births are not spared, once their reproductive days are over, ewes are killed.
And like pigs, cattle and poultry their arrival at the abattoir means more fear and pain. Do not be deceived into thinking that the death of an animal is painless. And bear in mind that no matter how awful life is no creature wishes to die, particularly in such circumstances.
Often the word humane is used when
referring to the type of death which a
farm animal meets at the slaughter
house. But what exactly does the word
humane mean? The dictionary tells you
that humane means kind, merciful. Here
are a selection of definitions from
on-line dictionaries. Word reference.
marked or motivated by concern with
the alleviation of suffering.
free On-line dictionary, Humane:
Characterized by kindness, mercy, or
Merriam Webster 0n-line Dictionary,
marked by compassion, sympathy, or
consideration for humans or animals.
What happens to sheep at an abattoir is anything but humane.
Before being killed an attempt is made to temporarily render sheep unconscious with a head-only electrical stun, a pair of electric tongs is placed on either side of the animal's head and a current of electricity is passed through. Electricity is extremely painful, even a mild static electric shock can be painful, can you imagine a current of electricity right through your head?
VIVA estimate that each year as many as 400 million sheep regain consciousness before they die. In some circumstances sheep may be skinned alive.
"The MHS says that the interval between stunning and knifing can be as high as 70 seconds for sheep. Another study found that the average interval was 21 seconds. Sheep take an average of 14 seconds to lose brain responsiveness if both carotid arteries (the major arteries that supply blood to the head) are cut. UK law only requires one carotid artery to be cut and in this case sheep take an average of 70 seconds to lose brain responsiveness. Yet an electric head-only stun only lasts between 20 and 40 seconds.
Viva! estimates that 4 million may regain consciousness each year before they die and we have video footage showing sheep regaining consciousness as they bleed to death. If only one carotid artery is cut, sheep may not be dead after the required 20 second bleed out time and they will therefore be skinned alive.
Researchers at Bristol University found that after an electric stun, sheep are not able to feel pain but they are have periods of being fully aware of their surroundings i.e. they can still feel fear and they are conscious whilst hanging upside down on the killing rail, bleeding to death. They could not prove whether the electricity has an immediate effect and Dr Harold Hillman, Director of the Unity Laboratory of Applied Neurobiology, says that when animals are stunned, they suffer extreme pain. They are unable to cry out or move because the massive electric current paralyses them. His evidence is based on reports from human torture victims."
Does this sound humane?
The only option to so called humane slaughter is no slaughter, there is no such thing as humane slaughter.
more information about cruelty and abuse
of sheep in the farming industry both
here and aboard see
Liberate our sheep
here on this
website. Where you will
learn about the horrors of tail docking,
castration and the notoriously cruel
practice of mulsing, which involves
cutting chucks of flesh from a sheep's
hind quarters without anaesthetics,
painkiller or antiseptics and other
abuses of sheep.
This poor little lamb has undergone Mulesing. This defenceless creature has been mutilated, her skin and tail have been cut with shears . No anaesthetic is used.
This Photo from
Animal Activism Queensland - AAQ
Sheep are not breeding meat producing machines but thinking feeling sentient beings. Such practices are abusive and traumatic, plain and simply cruel.
Change begins with you
There are many ways to stop this cruelty, the easiest and most immediate is to stop eating the flesh of sheep and lambs, stop wearing wool or drinking sheep's milk.
For other actions such as petitions and campaigns please visit the following websites.
References and Links :
References and more websites of interest where you can take action and get involved in campaigns and find out how to become vegetarian or Vegan. Please be sure to visit the websites included below if you have not already done so
First read this heart warming story about a sheep farmer and his wife who after visiting a neighbouring farm sanctuary gave up farming and donated their entire flock to the sanctuary.
References and Links :
farmsanctuary.org/ Click their factory farming link
Viva! Walczymy o konie i inne zwierzeta : . VIVA Poland