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Livestock Auctions, I Hates Them

I took our newest staff member to a livestock auction yesterday. I hate these places. They are surreal. I always encourage anyone who eats meat or consumes dairy to visit - it's where "spent" dairy cows and day-old male dairy calves end up. It's not pretty.

People bring their children. They sit in bleachers and watch as feeling, frightened non-humans are herded and paddled into an arena. They bid on them. By the pound, often. It is how I imagine human slave auctions were like. A family affair. A place you could eat some food, while buying lives. At the very least, they didn't serve up human slave burgers. At livestock auctions, you eat cows while buying cows to slaughter.

I am alien in these places.

We ended up taking home 10 broiler chicks no one wanted. They had been sitting in a wire cage, in the rain, for hours. Two could not stand up. They are only 6-weeks-old and already obese and "ready" for slaughter. They peep like babies, it is heartbreaking. 9 billion of them are killed each year for consumption. Babies! I can't get over it.

I saw a man load two screaming piglets into the trunk of his car. It was a Dodge Stratus.

A calf on his way to a veal farm nuzzled my hand, searching for maternal contact. How amazing that the drive to suckle overrides the absolute terror of neck grabs, paddling, shoves from tormentors. It is the picture that should stand next to "pitiful".


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
My heart aches for them all.
Those Brolier chicks are so lucky for you to have taken them.
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
AH! I remember what I wanted to ask you -- Do you have advice on keeping "meat chickens" healthy for something like a normal lifespan? We're looking at building a second coop/run for spring for bantams and I'd like to save some Cornish types, but I've heard if you free-feed meat chickens like you do egg layers, then it is disastrous for them past the age they were meant to be slaughtered at. I'm wondering if there's a way/what the best way is to keep them as healthy as possible and not crippled by their own weight.

The chicken sites I frequent sadly have no advice since most people there actually kill them and eat them and thus aren't interested in giving them a normal chicken lifespan.
Dec. 19th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
In addition to getting advice from rinalia, you could also ask Bede Carmody, who runs a big poultry sanctuary in Australia. He usually has a lot of "meat chickens". I'm afraid they don't live very long no matter what you do, but Bede's at least live long enough to socialise with each other and enjoy the sanctuary for a while.

Bede's email address is FreeChook@bigpond.com.
Dec. 20th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
That makes me happy to read. :)

At the sanctuary, our cornish crosses (we call them peepers) are fed a restrictive diet. Adults each get about a 1/2 cup twice a day of a rice hull/layer crumble blend. The rice hulls don't offer much in the way of good nutrition, but they help the birds feel more full. We also feed fresh produce, which they love (we have to smush the grapes in half, for the peepers' zest for food can lead to choking). We monitor their weights. The hens at the sanctuary are generally between 10-14 lbs. We have one rooster who is a very healthy 15-16 lbs. If we see them lose weight, we adjust their food intake and vice versa if they gain.

Bumblefoot is super common with peepers, but there is a lot of available research on treating it (and we are always happy to help, if you ever find yourself with some cornish type birds).

Our oldest peepers are 5, our youngest are nearly 3. But most we have rescued live 1-2 years. We lose most during hot summers where heat stroke and heart attack are more common.

But even all their problems are wholly made up for by their personalities. They are the friendliest birds and are far less flighty than any other breed I've known. And watching them chase after grapes makes just about anyone's day a little brighter. :)
Dec. 20th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Our oldest peepers are 5

Wow! Well done!
Dec. 19th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
So sad...
Dec. 19th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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