Cruelty, supported by your tax dollars

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Cruelty, supported by your tax dollars

From a press release [pdf] I received this morning:

The Government of Canada is investing up to $9.6 million to help improve the long-term profitability of Eastern Canada’s largest culled cattle slaughter plant in Quebec. This is the first project announced under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Slaughter Improvement Program, part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

This is a slaughter plant that kills dairy cows that are too old to be profitable. “Cull cattle” are “spent” dairy cows who. Not only do they spend their whole lives (4-5 years of it) producing milk, we thank them by “retiring” them to be slaughtered.

From the website of Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec (FPBQ):

A dairy cow’s primary function is to produce milk. But did you know that at the end of their active life, when they are no longer able to give a sufficient quantity of milk, dairy cows will have a “second vocation”? That is when they will be culled. Dairy cows generally are culled at around 5 or 6 years of age. In Quebec, approximately 70,000 dairy cows are culled annually.

No happy fields for them.

The press release continues:

Levinoff-Colbex provides a key service to the bovine livestock sector in Eastern Canada, serving as the only significant slaughter facility for cull cows for producers in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces. Levinoff-Colbex slaughters and processes 150,000 cull cattle per year.

Not only do we send these worn out dairy cattle to slaughter, we transport them hundreds of miles to the slaughterhouse. Dairy cows are often so worn out that many of them become “downers”, unable to walk into the slaughterhouse. The regulations in Canada concerning cows who are too sick to walk as good as non-existant. We aren’t really supposed to load them on the truck to begin with or transport them if they might not survive the trip, but I imagine it’s of economic benefit to the farmer to get as many of the cows to slaughter as possible.

There are also no laws in place in Canada that restrict the slaughter of downer cattle for food. So what economic incentives are there for a farmer to keep his milk machines healthy until they reach the slaughterhouse? Very little, especially if keeping the cows healthy means spending extra money.

In addition, the Canadian “Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals” are entirely voluntary. There is no law governing the transport and handling of farm animals.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is complicit in allowing this:

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s position statement regarding nonambulatory livestock states “If the animal is to be moved to a suitable processing facility, a veterinary inspection of the nonambulatory animal must be performed on the premises of origin. The animal must be accompanied by an antemortem veterinary certificate declaring whether the animal can or cannot be humanely loaded, that the animal is fit for slaughter and that the owner has observed all applicable withdrawal times for drugs used. The loading and transportation of nonambulatory animals must be performed in a manner to avoid pain, suffering and distress to the animal and upon arrival at the processing facility the animal must be humanely stunned or euthanized on the vehicle prior to unloading. Equipment currently being used includes slide boards and mats, forklifts, front-end loaders, hand carts, slings, “cow caddys” and stone boats or sleds. In those situations where the nonambulatory animal is passed for slaughter, but where the veterinarian deems loading and transportation inhumane, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommends on-farm slaughter. Nonambulatory animals deemed unfit for slaughter should be humanely euthanized on-farm and the carcass disposed of in accordance with local regulations.” (from the CFIA website)

Note the part where they describe the use of “forklifts, front-end loaders, hand carts, slings, ‘cow caddys’ and stone boats or sleds” as ways to move a cow without causing pain. Forklifts? A couple of years ago HSUS got some footage from a slaughterhouse that was using front-end loaders and forklifts to move downer cows to the slaughterhouse. It was horrific. I don’t even understand how the CVMA can stand by and allow sick and injured animals to be hauled about as if they are already carcasses without medical care. Veterinarians should be doctors for animals, not apologists for the meat and dairy industry.

Everyone who drinks milk needs to realize that they are supporting this system. Everytime we put milk in our coffee or grab a yogurt from the fridge we are saying, “Yes, please impregnate this cow so that she will produce milk in larger than natural amounts. Then when she’s not as profitable send her to slaughter, transporting her long distances across multiple province. I approve of how the system works. ”

And we all should probably be pretty bothered that our tax dollars are being used to support industries that make a profit on the suffering and exploitation of animals.



October 27, 2009 at 7:12 pm

How awful is that quote?:

“A dairy cow’s primary function is to produce milk.”

It appears a dairy farmer’s primary function is to be ignorant and anthropocentric.

Oh, how I am ashamed of my species sometimes.


October 28, 2009 at 8:50 pm

People have been so brainwashed into thinking that they “aren’t getting enough milk” like the ads say. We should do some sort of adbusters commercial about milk (aka Got Pus?, copyright Joanne) You in Glenn?


October 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Sounds like a neat idea, but Peta’s beat us to it:

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