Feelings on "Livestock"
I thought of considerably more than the maximum allotment of ten viewpoint boxes to check, so I picked the "ten most essential," and well ... if you can/want to vote on more, here's the rest of what I could think of for now:
I welcome any further opinions about livestock you'd like to express. Also, if you're willing and have reasonable opportunity, consider describing excamples of what specific types of improvements many of our livestock's lives need, how widespread livestock maltreatment is, what you and I (even the non-famers amongst us) can do about it, etc.
Note that chickens, horses, sheep, cows, and really any domesticated farm animal that's used for meat, work, and/or commodities, counts as a type of livestock. (Ducks and geese rather fall under the "pets" category, I think.)
As for me, I'm way undereducated about livestock and their various plights in general, but mostly what I hear is that far too many (actually a single case would constitute far too many) farms treat their livestock horribly. Shame be upon any farmer who won't let his practices be filmed/photographed, and shut him down, I say.
On a moral level, I dislike being a meat-eater. On a realistic level, I'm still too addicted to meat to give it up (especially when friends and family serve it to me). I'd feel much better if at least we only ate the non-human people who'd died of natural causes. And if we think we must kill them ourselves, I do believe we need to improve our killing methods so as to make them "even" less traumatic for the non-human people we kill.
Why oh why can't restaurants and fast-food joints expand the vegetarian part of their menus? It'd help me (and so many non-human people) sooo much.
I'm okay with genetic tampering as long as it doesn't mean a low-quality life for the resulting organism. For example, if someone's tweaking chickens' genes so as to produce a bird so meat-packed that it can't even stand up, then that's absolutely unconscionable.
I'm okay with harvesting eggs, milk, and wool. I don't think the livestock mind all that much. I don't mind non-human people pulling plows and stuff as long as they're treated decently. I don't mind humans saddling, bridling, and riding horses as long as the horses are treated decently.
Decent treatment of livestock involves lots of big and little things in my mind. Knowledge of each species' general wants and needs and the expert/sensible/compassionate application of that knowledge. Allowing them lots of ground to roam about on (especially horses who need/want to gallop). Plenty of clean ground to walk and sleep on, at all times. (Keeping pigs/cows in a pen with little or no ground clean of ankle-to-knee-deep fecal matter is disgraceful.) Medical attention. Good quality food and a decent supply of it. Reasonably clean water and a decent supply of it. Salt licks for cows. Special treats from time to time. Affectionate human touch (e.g. brushing a horse with those steely horse brushes). Adequate shelter; warm, heated shelter for cold weather. Freedom to wander outdoors at will. (I admit that contradicts what I recommend for many/most housepets.) The company of other livestock (especially of like species). And on and on; there's so many things, probably most of which elude me at the moment.
I think I'm okay with spaying/neutering, but only with an anesthetic. Slicing off a calf's balls with no tools except a giant set of clippers is wrong of humans to do, even though I'm sure virtually all farmers take the practice for granted. It's barbaric. We must at least anesthetize the poor bastards.
Livestock are probably better-suited for mostly-outdoor life than are many/most housecats and dogs (especially city-dwelling housecats and dogs). The exotic tradition of letting a bull waltz freely through a china shop seems illogical/inappropriate (even if it be religiously correct).
Livestock (horses in particular come to mind) might fare better at adapting themselves to life in the wilds than most housepets. So, I'm not terribly opposed to the idea of setting livestock free, but I'm also not terribly opposed to the idea of keeping them domestic. Guess you could say I'm somewhat neutral on that issue per se?
If we do set them (completely) loose into the wilds, though, I don't think we humans have the needed instincts/knowledge for conditioning them for life in the wilds. I fear we'd just have to turn them loose and pray to Gaia to keep them safe or at least grace them with a quick and mostly painless death. Naturally I'd also be glad to feed/water them whenever they came my way, provided I had food and water on hand for them.
Well that's some of my opinions. More can no doubt be drawn out of me by asking questions and posting comments. I'm interested to hear what lots or all of you think about it.
And so ... we've now threads covering everything from pets to livestock to wildlife. We've basically covered every living thing (even plants to some extent) on Earth, right? except humans ... Oh wait, we've got already threads relating to the care and feeding of humans spread all over these boards.
For the record, eating meat that has died of "natural causes" is a bad idea and could very well kill you.
I spent the summers around small family farms and never saw the conditions that keep making the news. Healthy animals produce better. We are far too removed from the food we eat. If we all had to personally grow and raise our own food, we wouldn't see the tragic conditions that seem prevalent in the mega corporate run farms. Instead we have cities trying to outlaw even small vegetable gardens.
Yeah, I worry about that corporate-farm thing. Course I'm also way to lazy to do any farming myself, so shame on me, I'm a stereotypical American who probably deserves to eat crappy overprocessed vittles.
Re: death by natural causes ... if a disease killed the animal, can't we kill all the blameworthy bugs by thoroughly cooking the meat? same principle as why rare beef has a "tapeworm reputation." But if we're still worried about the bugs, what if we only harvested the meat of animals who had died of old age? I guess you could argue that we're then eating meat that was "oxidized to death," and so, only healthy animals who were slaughtered in their prime are truly fit for our consumption.
Just one more reason why (my conscience, the tiny angel on my right shoulder, but not instinct, the tiny devil on my left shoulder, sez) I should stop being an omnivore and start being a herbivore. And FTR, I love veggie burgers, bean burritos, lots of veggie (Eastern) Indian dishes, egg foo young, and various other veggie delights. But going vegan is just more than my "Republican" brain can handle.
I voted "We should improve livestock's conditions/treatment."
"We should stop riding horses."
First choice: I actually don't mind the practice of livestock as their existence along with plant farming has helped supply the ever-growing population of Humans even though there are too many Humans to begin with and I wouldn't mind intentional sterilization of much of the Human population, strict reproduction laws,
and even throwing the vast majority of criminals who refuse to co-exist with others in a society out into the wild as exiles as more than half of them will most likely die forced to live without their "society":
this is some times already practiced with some criminals and some are even banned from most Human societies, but more of the "Prisoner-Population" need to be subjected to this treatment as they either consume resources for their entire lives or they are released stronger and more volatile then they were going into prison.~
There really are more benefits for treating livestock as "kindly" as possible: free-range "kindly" treated livestock are said to be "tastier" and "healthier" to.~
Second choice: I never liked this practice once I realized what it actually was and later on I found out what they really had to do every time a horse is born no matter if it is born in captivity or in the wild: a horse always has a "wild" mentality", this makes them extremely hard to "tame" which ranchers call "breaking them".~
I don't like this practice for the sheer cruelty of it, but I also don't see it as necessary or even needed at all any more: we have long moved away from needing horses for ANY THING: we have cars and machines that work even better than any enslaved horse, there is just no more need for us to even try to "tame" them AT ALL!~
In fact, horses are becoming dangerously close to becoming an endangered of being wiped out species and I think the best practice so far that is actually being done is to "monitor" them in the wild to protect them from poachers and illegal hunting.~
Re: horses ... if "breaking" is the word for domesticating a horse, then that's got a bad ring to it. I would hope that more modern ranchers have developed more humane ways of acclimatizing a horse to domestic life and duties, even if they still call it "breaking" for some odd reason.
Horse-riding is way down from one let alone two centuries ago. Cars, trucks, planes, and helicopters have replaced most of them. But bear in mind, cattle ranchers often use horses, while herding cows or sheep, to navigate terrain even a 4 by 4 jeep would balk at. In that case I think I can pardon horse-riding, at least until more advanced vehicles are invented. (And said vehicles should also run as quietly as a horse would, so as not to startle or spook the cow or sheep herd.)
All other horse-riding I can think of is pretty frivolous. It's a novelty to have a horse with bushy hooves pull an old-fashioned carriage. But it's hardly necessary beyond luring tourists in and whatnot. I guess I don't hate it as long as it's not depressing the horse with its repetitiveness and the horse is treated well in general.
My feelings are a hair more mixed about horse-riding skill competitions. While technically frivolous, I think they're more interesting for the horse and additionally form a significant bond between horse and rider.
Now out-and-out horse racing, I'm more skeptical about that. First of all I know the horses are essentially racing for the sake of gambling. If the horses knew that, I'd think they'd be depressed about it. Secondly, I think horse racing can be dangerous for horse and rider alike. Could end up with a horse with a badly broken leg and subsequently putting the horse down. But I do feel that horses like to run, and like to run fast. It's one of the biggest talents that Nature and evolution built into them. Humans race each other on racetracks at the Olympics; maybe horses should get to race each other too? I guess much depends on how much an individual horse seems to enjoy the sport.
What about rodeos? Do the bulls and horses like those events? They seem rather pissed ... not to mention the holy-hell danger to the cowboys riding them. Best make this popular Western sport a thing of the past?
I can see releasing at least quite a few horses out in the wild (and then keeping an eye on them to keep them safe). I'd also like to hear more about three things:
It's usually the poor and uneducated in countries that offer little hope for a better life, who bear far too many children. We need to make education and affordable (i.e. sometimes free) sterilization available to those people. Ironically, first-world countries are usually the countries that have population growth best under control, and yet third-world countries are the ones that most desperately need better birth control.
I'm thinking that if/when life extension is developed, the only people who should be allowed to adopt the technology should be people who've never procreated, and who (due to appropriate surgical tweaks) never will procreate. Getting a bit off-topic here but oh well, that's where my musings currently lie where life extension is concerned.
Re: consigning recalcitrant prisoners to the wilds ... in theory not a bad idea, the only drawback is finding the right wilderness to consign them to. Not like you'd want a bunch of dangerous criminals wandering around in a national park. Perhaps Australia would let us use some of its vast, very wild outback? I suppose we could bundle them up and send them to Antarctica, but then they might disturb/hurt the scientists at work on that continent. Bundle them up and send them to Greenland? Maybe. They probably wouldn't live long in those frigid environments, but maybe we don't care if Nature "executes" them for us.
Having had family members in prison, and hearing the horror stories about how bad it can get especially during the initial R&O stage, troubles me and makes me think, "Even the worst prisoner is a human being and do the rest of us really want to stoop to his level and treat him like he'd treat others?" I feel that we need to work harder on reconstructing them in preparation for a return to relatively free society.
My younger brother, who's probably going to be in prison a long time and has already been there for a year (two years?): he repeatedly observes in his letters that the inmates surrounding him don't seem like dangerous, out-of-control people at all. The vast majority seem to him to be humble, contrite souls who know they screwed up terribly and just want to fix it and become better people. So I suspect that those of us (like myself) who haven't tasted the "pleasures" of prison life, probably don't appreciate the wrongness of the whole approach to dealing with criminals. Warehousing them tends to be a poor, inefficient solution. Helping them change for the better doesn't always work, but would probably enable many of them to return to society and never hurt another soul again.
Yes, there are undoubtably criminals who can't be cured of their dysfunctional behaviors. But that's probably a lot smaller percentage than we've been led to believe. Note that the United States holds world records (and near-world-records) for things like most prisons, most prisoners, largest percentage of prisoners when counted with the nation's total population, etc.
Obviously we're doing something wrong -- something that many other countries are doing right.
By the way, what about circus animals? Keep them in service? Retire them in a domestic environment? Free them into the wild?
Interesting votes and comments so far guys; keep 'em coming.
Respect and regards,
Regarding criminals and ways to treat prisoner populations, I'd recommend having a watch of the documentary The House I live In which is about the war on drugs.
I was able to find and watch it on youtube. It is a stunningly made documentary and well worth the hour or so it takes to watch it.
Just from watching the "music intro" (with its startling offering of statistics), it sounds like this is probably an excellent movie. And while I seldom get out to the theater, I've certainly put this show on my to-do list and can probably watch it via Netflix or Amazon. Say InfinitePossibility, do you have the YouTube link you used and is it still active?
Anyone who follows InfinitePossibility's link: I do recommend watching that music intro. I think it's about three minutes long, and gives just a glimpse of what many prisons, prisoners, and prison lives are really like. Truly a non-Hollywood-ized glimpse, I thought. I think my youngest brother (who may never get released) would approve and agree with the "unspoken message" there.
Thanks for that post InfinitePossibility.
I know I'm probably dorking up something in the conversation by replying to an early post before I read the rest, but what the hell... jumping in with both feet without looking here...
Oh, and I voted to improve their conditions.
We've gotten accustomed to having food in any season, trucked in from who-knows-where, with zero flavor (home-grown tomatoes versus farmed tomatoes? No contest), or artificial flavor due to your meats being injected with who-knows-what before you eat it.
And it costs a premium to avoid that stuff, when it used to just be standard.
I wouldn't mind going back to the days when veggies were out of season in the winter, and you bought from local farms, but we won't be dialing back the clock. People complain about it, but people still want meat and veggies when they want them, which is NOW, and they won't complain with the voice that is heard the most - their wallets.
And OBTW, local eggs are the BEST. Omnomnomnom...
Pertaining to Kevin's first post, I have no qualms about being an om(nomnom)nivore. But yes, it would serve us all well to know where our food comes from.
Poking around some of the later posts, I'm not keen on circus animals of any stripe. I'm taking the kids to Florida this upcoming April, and was considering SeaWorld. Instead, I'll take them to the Miami Sea Aquarium on another vacation, where they actually TRY to rehabilitate their animals and send them back into the wild, rather than pay lip service to it. Still meaning to watch the movie "Blackfin" at some point.
On the other hand, I'll tip the hat to the people who have the performing cats. Anyone who can train a cat to do ANYTHING has my utmost respect and admiration.
And 'ew' on eating animals that have died of natural causes. Just... no.
Re: veggies in season ... well I've seen a farm or two in my younger days myself, and I know they have cellars and stuff for storing things that will keep thru the Winter. Potatoes keep pretty good I think. Apples possibly too? D'ope, my abundant expertise supply just ran out. :) Oh wait; carrots keep. Carrots keep, don't they?
Re: tomatoes ... home-grown will always kick ass on any other tomatoes, especially those pathetic January tomatoes that they strip mine out of Texas. :eek:
Yes, I'm afraid grocery stores with their year-round produce sections are here to stay. Best one can do is avoid such produce sections and buy strictly from small-scale farmers if one's lucky enough to live near any.
Re: eating meat ... I keep going back and forth on that because I know Nature (via evolution) intended for humans (and cats, etc.) to eat meat. But one thing I'll never step backwards on is my conviction that we must stay right on top of humane methods of killing our livestock. Basically, if the non-human person being killed feels a thing, then we're doin' it wrong.
Which by the way screws up the "relative morality" of eating fish. When those poor suckers are caught, they're just thrown in a bucket or something and left to suffocate. :(
Of course, the quality of life before the fateful killing is of utmost importance. I kind of covered my take on what constitutes a decent quality of life for livestock in my 11-22-2013 post, so I'll leave it at that.
But here's a question to ponder: How did we humans decide which animals were fit for food, which were fit for labor, and which were fit for company and entertainment? For example ... ducks and geese are *not* always pets. They sometimes end up on the dinner table. And I've heard of people keeping pigs as housepets. And we've all heard about the Far-Eastern tradition of eating cats and dogs ...
I just wonder what our thinking process is for making these decisions. I suppose every non-human person's animal/human relationship/dynamic has its own evolutionary story. But how do we decide which non-human people have "small enough brains" to qualify them as comestibles? Monkeys, whales, dolphins, humans = *No* (except in certain exotic lands) ... Horses = Hormel ... Pigs = Yes ... Seals = "No" (I think?) ... and on and on. How did we figure out where to draw the lines?
Just throwin' it out there for the ugly fun of it.
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