This morning after a delightful extra hour of sleep due to a canceled class, I grabbed my crackberry and checked twitter. There I found two blog posts from Haley Farms and Michele Payne-Knoper, both expressing their disgust, anger and outrage about the contents of the recent Mercy for Animals video on dairy calves. Their outrage was not directed toward the vegan push at the end of the video, but the fact that someone would abuse these tiny creatures in such horrific ways.
After watching the video (which is very graphic, I’m glad I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet) I came to ponder two questions:
1) How did the camera man just stand there and do nothing?
Answer: I have no idea.
2) Is this more about veganism or animal abuse?
Answer: I believe it has more to do with the latter.
To put it simply, these people deserved to be turned in to the authorities. No animal should ever be abused or mutilated. This is something I think we all (livestock producers and animal rights activists) can agree on. I also believe it is a cause that we can all work toward despite our differences.
So, how do we, as concerned individuals from different philosophical backgrounds (ie: animal rights vs animal welfare) work together to ensure that animals aren’t abused?
Answer: Education and awareness.
So I know what you’re thinking: “Dang it, Jillian, that is a fluff answer. We need ACTION! Not education and awareness.”
I agree–if you encounter a situation like Mercy for Animals you should turn the abusers into the proper authorities. However, without understanding how the operation works, without learning about both camps (rights and welfare) and without being aware of what is or isn’t common practice in the industry, how will you know how to approach the situation in the most effective manner?
Don’t misunderstand me, I am NOT saying that the video contains common practices. I am saying that before you choose a cause to champion, you should invest serious time and research into it.
Therefore, for the sake of all dairy calves, learn a little more about common farm operations today. I certainly will! In fact, I’m going to visit our campus dairy–no it’s not a commercial diary, but it’s the closest one I can get to today between classes.
Here are some links to get you started:
An awesome video from Zweber Farms on how they take care of calves.
Also be sure to check out the folk of AgChat