Animals in Agriculture

Scenes from a USDA Inspected Slaughterhouse

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Alternative Farming Systems: A bibliography. 3rd part

AWI staff. AWI's standards for cattle and sheep put other criteria out to pasture. AWI Quarterly; 54(1):6, 2005 .
AWI's standards for sheep dictate life in stable social flocks with the freedom to graze on pasture. Typical industry practices such as confinement on slatted flooring and mutilations like mulesing are prohibited. AWI also requires a minimum weaning age of four months, in constrast to the industry standard of five weeks or less.
Bodega Pastures Sheep. Web Site. Bodega, CA.
'Bodega Pastures Sheep' are producers of organic wool and practitioners of sustainable ranching in California. "Our flock ranges free on the Northern California coastal prairie. Our sheep eat grasses, clover, and forbs. The sheep drink spring water which flows from high on our ridges. At our midwinter lambing we supplement our ewes' feed with hay which is grown on our ridge spines and bottom fields. Around the time of birth, we also feed our sheep organic grains and meal from California and Oregon, according to the ewes' and lambs' needs.... We make or have made a wide range of organic wool products from our sheep."
Bowns, J.E. Sheep behavior under unherded conditions on mountain summer ranges. Journal of Range Management; 24(2):105-109, 1971.
"Purebred Rambouillet, Targhee and Columbia sheep were observed on mountain summer ranges in southwestern Utah. Under unherded conditions Rambouillet sheep travelled greater distances and spent more time resting, while Columbias travelled the least distances, rested least and grazed longer than the other breeds. All breeds travelled farther in the morning than in the afternoon but grazed longer in the afternoon. There was a tendency for the sheep to water and take salt in the mornings rather than in the afternoons. Overgrazing on established bedgrounds was caused by animals grazing these areas in the evening prior to bedding down. Fencing along the crests of the ridges and more strategic salt placement appear to be the most useful means of improving distribution."

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Making a Sheperd's Life Easier: How to Handle a 300-Ewe Flock Without a Lot of Help. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 1998.
A five-year study in Wisconsin found that a beef and sheep operation can provide a modest source of supplementary income if farmers keep debt low, manage carefully, and are willing to work for modest wages. "Researchers wanted the Hayward project to be a model for a family-sized farm--something a couple could handle without much additional help or expensive equipment." Some of the practices employed for handling the sheep flock are outlined such as strategies that save time and labor during lambing time and when feeding, watering, and handling the flock.

Compas, L. Producing rare, naturally colored wools. Small Farm Today; March 2003.
At the McMurry sheep farm in Franklin, Missouri, Andy and Desiree Mc Murry see their products through, from raising lambs, to shearing them, to weaving finished scarves, shawls, and throws from the wool. Though the wool products are colored in hues of cream, brown, black, and gray, they do not contain dyes of any kind: the McMurrys selectively breed their sheep for naturally colored wool. Andy imported naturally colored Romney and Merino sheep from New Zealand and now the flock perpetuates itself under McMurry's breeding program. Letting the sheep live outside year-round, and moving them often, makes for very clean wool.

Compas, L. Sheep, goats help reclaim strip-mined land . Small Farm Today;36, May 2003.
David Coplen is reclaiming strip-mined land using sheep and goats to clear brush, fertilize the soil, and seed new vegetation. Then he sells lambs to his friends and neighbors. The Coplens now have a flock of about 75 adult sheep, as well as three nanny goats. The animals are allowed to graze for two to three days in each of 12 paddocks. "When we started an experimental plot, it had sticker brushes so thick you couldn't walk through it," Coplen said. "There was no sunlight getting to the ground, no ground cover, no organic matter. Now they've cleared all those branches away, up to about chest height."

Compas, L. Sheep help on Christmas Tree Farm. Small Farm Today;27, March 2002.
Instead of spraying and mowing around Christmas trees all summer long, Bill White lets the sheep graze the tree plantations. The sheep keep the trees free of weeds and grass so the trees can develop more uniformly. While the sheep have saved effort in some ways, they are not labor-free. White has to watch them carefully and move them to fresh pasture every three or four days. "The sheep prefer broadleaf weeds, so they eat those first, then the grass -- and then if you don't rotate them out, they'll start in on the trees."
Doane, T.H. and Anderson, B. Supplemental Pastures for Sheep. Neb Guide. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, Nebraska-Lincoln, 1996.
"This guide covers efficient and effective ways to pasture sheep. The following pasture alternatives and combinations allow the development of a pasture program where sheep can be on pasture for approximately 10 months of the year, if weather permits. Pasture alternatives based on perennial pasture usually have abundant forage available from cool-season grasses during May and June, and again in the fall. Supplemental pasture (annual forages) may be beneficial in early spring, midsummer and late fall, and early winter. When forage appears to be sparse at the end of the grazing period, offer small amounts of good quality hay to the sheep. Sheep efficiently convert forage into meat and wool. Part of the efficiency is due to their ability to be selective in plants and parts of a plant they graze. Selective grazing allows sheep to consume the most palatable parts of the plants, and these palatable plant parts usually are the most nutritious."
Johnston, J. et al. Stockpiled Pasture: 2. Lamb Performance on Two Stockpiling Systems. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Guelph, Ontario, Dec. 1998.
"Stockpiling is the practice of saving certain hay or pasture fields for grazing in the fall and winter after forage growth has stopped due to cold weather. Stockpiled pasture is also referred to as fall-saved pasture or deferred grazing. In this report, we look at the performance of weaned lambs grazing stockpiled forage. Based on the animal performance achieved in this trial, there seems to be no reason why most classes of livestock could not be kept on pasture until early November and maintain their performance. For animals with moderate or low performance targets, grazing into early December is a realistic goal."
Lawrence, A.B. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M. Home-range behaviour and social organization in Scottish blackface sheep. Applied Animal Behaviour Science;176 (abstract), 1985.
"It is suggested that ewes with lambs in summer show a decrease in grouping behaviour and tend to forage independently of other group members. This may represent a seasonal variation in social organization within the group."

Lawrence, A.B. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M. Social behaviour of hill sheep; more to it than meets the eye. Applied Animal Behaviour Science;382 (abstract), 1985.
"The present study found that during winter, hill sheep do indeed appear to be highly social, existing in large sub-groups and being influenced in their movements by other group members. The increase in sociability in winter correlated with a general decrease in the heterogeneity of quality of the hill swards, and the worsening of the weather.... In summer, however, there was a marked decrease in gregariousness, with a considerable reduction in sub-group size. This corresponded with the growth of dispersed patches of hill grass, the preferred food at this time, and resulted in a large increase in the variability of home-range behaviour."
Morrical, D. The Ins and Outs of Pasture Lambing. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1995.
"Many farm flock operations are moving towards pasture lambing because of lower production costs and reduced labor. The major emphasis is on forage production, lactating ewes and nursing lambs. Grass and legume growth will only be optimized in some form of rotational grazing program. Most forage based sheep operations will rotate the flock every 2 to 7 days. Some rules of thumb on intensive grazing are that we want optimum rest to insure adequate plant health and maximum yield. Under periods of rapid growth one should practice rapid rotation and under periods of slow growth slow rotation. The absolute lowest input system is to lamb the ewes on pasture. This system requires that ewes be bred later to insure grass is ready for turnout." The system used at McNay Research farm is outlined.
Rose, L. From grass to goats to cheese: Farm based cheese-making at Capri Cheese. The Organic Broadcaster. MOSES. The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin, pp. Nov-Dec 2002.
'On a small valley farm in western Richland County, Wisconsin, a gentle ringing sound fills the air as goats graze with Swiss bells around their necks. Felix Thalhammer and his son Leif lead the belled does down from the pasture for evening milking. This is the home of Capri Cheese, Felix's goat dairy and cheese business, certified organic by MOSA'. The operation is managed by the family -- from pasture and hay production to marketing cheese.... 'Felix rotationally grazes his goats. He has twenty acres of pasture fenced. Each paddock is one to 1 1/2 acres. Felix reports little nuisance weeds in pastures, as goats are thorough eaters. They even eat thistle. For pastures far from the barn, Felix has what he calls a mobile "goat house". The "goat house" stores 100 bales of hay for convenient winter feeding and offers shelter from heat or cold year round. He rotates pastures every twenty days in an attempt to avoid parasite problems and to maintain pastures.'
Spruce Haven Farm. Web Site. 2002.
Spruce Haven Farm is a low-input pasture based sheep farm near Meaford, Ontario, Canada. The farm history, farming practices, and family goals are outlined including photos. The flock is grazing pasture at least 200 days per year and wintering outside. Ewes lamb in the spring, sheep breeding cycles are co-ordinated with pasture growing cycles and the use of grain and other purchased feeds is minimized. Crop excess pasture is used as hay. Lamas guard the sheep.
Wells, A., Gegner, L., and Earles, R. Sustainable Sheep Production. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., May 2000.
"A sustainable approach to farming seeks to strengthen family farms, protect community values, provide good profits to the farmer, and enhance rather than simply exploit the environment, renewing our natural and economic resources for the generations to come. With these goals in mind, sustainable sheep production combines low-cost feeding and housing, controlled grazing, creation of high-quality pastures, and integrated management of diseases and parasites. Many small-scale producers will increase their economic sustainability by pursuing alternative marketing strategies, including the cultivation of local or regional direct markets. Topics covered include breed selection, pasture and range grazing, pasture lambing, alternative health management, and innovative marketing of meat and wool products."


Gerard, Robert. Tierra Wools, Part I. Linking old traditions with contemporary enterprise.
Tierra Wools, Part II. From fleece to finished product. The New Farm; Sept. 2005
Part I. In the high range country of northern New Mexico, a community of ranchers, shepherds and weavers has found new markets for the rare Navajo-Churro, a 400-year old sheep breed that was nearly lost for good. Tierra Wools has helped the local people return to their traditional roots of sheep production and fine weavings by offering an outlet for their products and a living wage.
Part II. Transforming Churro wool into rugs and tapestries requires more hard work--from shearing and washing to spinning, dyeing, weaving and managing the Tierra Wools' retail store.
Johanson, P. Selling wool at Farmers' Market. Small Farm Today;25-26, March 2002.
"These days, freshly-sheared fleece does not sell for a good price to the big wool mills. but after I located a small-scale wool mill near my farm, it became possible to turn leftover fleeces from our family farm into value-added wool products that I can sell directly to the consumer at retail rates at a farmers' market. There are even mini-mills available, which a few wool producers are buying to process their own wool and that of customers."
Predator Friendly. Ranchers and Environmentalists Agree "Predator-Friendly" Wool Is Good for Business. Predator Defense Institute, Eugene, OR, 1997.
"A surprising development is underway in Montana. Sheep ranchers are shaking hands with environmentalists over one of the most controversial subjects in the west: predator control. Reasoning that there is a market for people who want to buy wool from ranchers who don't kill coyotes and that they're willing to pay more for it, Belgrade sheep rancher Dude Tyler is purchasing wool at premium prices from certified ranchers who use only non-lethal methods of predator control. His non-profit organization, Predator Friendly, Inc. then sells the wool to manufacturers.... For rancher certification, no coyotes can be killed in the calendar year prior to the spring shearing season. Ranchers are encouraged to use non-lethal predator control methods such as electric fencing, guard dogs, llamas, mules and cows which have proven to be successful deterrents. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Predator Friendly wool will be used for seminars to teach non-lethal predator control methods and to help ranchers make the transition to these methods affordable." (See web site)
Robbins, J. Market growing for wool that comes from predator-friendly ranches : Llamas, not guns, protect sheep from coyotes. The New York Times; Dec. 14, 1997.
"On Becky Weed and David Tyler's farm here at the base of the snow-flecked Bridger Mountains, there are no rifles hanging in the rear window of a pickup truck to shoot coyotes that might attack their sheep... The first line of defense against coyotes is a llama named Cyrus... The llama is one of a handful of creatures in an animal arsenal that Ms. Weed and a small but growing number of other environmentally minded Western ranchers hope will replace lethal means of coyote control. To that end Ms. Weed and a handful of others have formed the Growers' Wool Cooperative, a consortium that sells what is billed as "predator friendly" wool that comes from operations where nonlethal means of predator control are used. In addition to llamas, ranchers use guard dogs and burros. "
Weed, B. and Tyler, D. Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company. Web Site.
"At Thirteen Mile Farm we raise sheep without using chemical fertilizers and herbicides on our fields, and the sheep grow on grass, clover and alfalfa, and a little organic barley with no antibiotics or hormone supplements. Our lamb and wool products are certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association International (OCIA). The livestock are fenced out of the creeks to protect both local wildlife habitat and the quality of the sheep's drinking water. Our principal protection against native predators are our guard llamas and our own vigilance; because we have chosen not to use lethal control methods against coyotes, bears, wolves, mountain lions, our ranch is certified as "predator friendly". It is a choice which, like many of our land management decisions, acknowledges risk in the interest of learning how to coexist with native species while caring for the land."


Dairy Goats. Web Site. Fias Co Farm, Mooresburg, TN.
"This site is intended to aid the reader in the care and husbandry of dairy goats. The information presented here reflects the way we do things here at Fias Co Farm. In our methods, we emphasize holistic health and treat our animals with the love, care and respect they deserve."
How goat kids are raised at Fias Co Farm: "The mothers and kids get to stay together in their personal stall for the first few days, in this way, they can bond and neither mom nor kids are bothered or bullied by other members of the herd. The babies have 24/7 "full access" to their mother's milk, and continue to have milk full time for the next 2 weeks... By two weeks of age, the kids are spending the entire day with the herd. Now is the time I start milking the mothers. The kids are "locked up" at night in the communal "goat baby stall". In the morning, I first milk the mothers. Then we let the babies out to be with their mother and herd for the rest of the day. The kids can nurse their mothers all day, and in this way, they "take care" of the evening milking for me. I do not milk the does at night- I milk only once a day- in the morning using this technique..." (See: Kids Care)

Coffey, L., Wells, A., and Earles, R. Sustainable Goat Production: Overview. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., May 2001.
"Goat production can be a valuable part of a sustainable farm. Goats may fit well into the biological and economic niches in a farm operation that otherwise go untapped. They can be incorporated into existing grazing operations with sheep and cattle. Goats can also be used for control of weeds and brush to help utilize a pasture's diversity, as long as they are not allowed to overgraze." Topics covered include raising goats on pasture, controlled grazing, supplemental feeding, health concerns, reproduction, management, marketing.
Coffey, L., Hale, M., and Williams, P. Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Aug. 2004.
"Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production is intended for those interested in starting a commercial goat dairy. It discusses the five major considerations to be addressed in planning for dairy goat production: labor, sales and marketing, processing, regulations, and budgeting and economics. It includes production information specific to dairy goats, including choosing breeds and selecting stock. A resource list for further information about dairy goat production follows the end notes."
Ikerd, J. Profile of Mary Doerr, Dancing Winds Farm, Kenyon, Minnesota. The New American Farmer. Sustainable Agriculture Network (SARE-SAN), Beltsville, MD, 2001.
'Mary Doerr produces cheese from goats raised in a 21-paddock management intensive grazing system. In the pasture she practices rotational grazing, an ideal system for goats. She has 21 very small paddocks divided with electro-netting, and rotates the animals daily in a three-week rotation. “They want diversity of forage, though you can get great production on straight alfalfa,” she says. “They actually like thistles and cockleburs!”'

Lazzaro, J. Dairy Goat Information of the Serious Kind. Saanendoah Dairy Goats, Nov. 2001.
This site contains very useful information on the health and husbandry of dairy goats.
Mitchell, E.R. Brush Control With Goats. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, 1996.
This publication gives information on low-input management and care of goats used for brush control, gleaned from observations and day-to-day trial and error. "We initiated an investigation of goats as replacements for chemical and mechanical control of brush. The project began in spring 1988 and continued through fall 1993. Our goals were to: (1) determine the brush species goats eat; (2) monitor plant species that increase as brush cover is removed; (3) assess the initial stocking rate; (4) evaluate different types of fencing; (5) determine animal management requirements; and (6) initiate multispecies grazing with goats, cattle, and sheep."

Several species

Anderson, D.M. et al. Differences in ewe and wether behavior when bonded to cattle. Applied Animal Behaviour Science; 47(3-4):201-209, 1996.
Sheep can be made to consistently stay close to (bond) and follow cattle if the close association began at an early age. The cohesiveness of this inter-species association under free-ranging conditions varies due to many factors, including sheep gender. Bonded wethers stay nearer to cattle than do bonded ewes. Keeping a few bonded wethers with bonded ewes may enhance the establishment and maintenance of consistently coherent range flerds (flocks + herds).
Coffey, L. Multispecies Grazing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., June 2001.
"Mixed-species grazing has several advantages. Cattle prefer grass over other types of plants, and are less selective when grazing than sheep or goats. Sheep and goats, on the other hand, are much more likely to eat weeds. Sheep prefer forbs (broad-leaved plants) to grass, and goats have a preference for browsing on brush and shrubs, and then broad-leaved weeds. Therefore, grazing cattle, sheep, and goats together on a diverse pasture should result in all types of plants being eaten, thus controlling weeds and brush, while yielding more pounds of gain per acre compared to single-species grazing." This publication reviews benefits and potential problems of multispecies grazing.
Luginbuhl, J.-M. et al. Forage needs for meat goats and sheep. Production and Utilization of Pastures and Forages. - Technical Bulletin 305. North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, pp. 1998.
"Goats are very active foragers, able to cover a wide area in search of scarce plant materials. Their small mouths and split upper lips enable them to pick small leaves, flowers, fruits and other plant parts, thus choosing only the most nutritious available feed. In a pasture situation goats are "top down" grazers. This behavior results in uniform grazing and favors a first grazer-last grazer system using a goat flock as the first group and cattle as the last group. This management is most appropriate with lactating does or growing kids... Goats seem to be less tolerant of wet cold conditions than sheep and cattle because of a thinner fat layer. A wet goat can easily become sick. Therefore, it is usually necessary to provide artificial shelters, such as open sheds.
Harvesting of the forage crops by the sheep themselves, with as little supplemental feeding as possible, is the most practical and economical means to ensure the success of a sheep operation... It is essential to develop an economical year round forage supply... As a general rule, sheep eat more browse than cattle, but less than goats, because sheep are not nearly as selective as goats. Sheep also make better use of rough, steep hill pastures than cattle or goats....Most studies indicate greater production and better pasture utilization are achieved when sheep and cattle or sheep, cattle and goats are grazed together as opposed to grazing only sheep or goats or cattle alone. This is especially true where a diverse plant population exists." The article covers grazing behavior, nutrient requirements, grazing management, fencing, management of reproduction of goats and sheep.

Schoenian, S. Maryland Small Ruminants Page. Web Site., Maryland.
"The purpose of this web site is to provide information resources for sheep and goat producers and others interested in small ruminants. The site consists of original documents as well as a comprehensive list of links pertaining to small ruminants."
Compas, L. Alpacas produce fiber on Mid-Missouri farm. Small Farm Today;26-27, March 2003.
Diane Peckham has found a way to make retirement income off her 50acre farm while producing beautiful yarn and taking care of the environment at the same time. She raises alpacas in Columbia, Missouri. For Peckham, the decision to keep alpacas was and easy one. "I wanted to keep animals, but I didn't want to eat them," she said. Alpacas are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than other livestock. Because they come from the camel family, they do not need or want as much water. Their padded feet are easy on pastureland and do not cause erosion. Their bodies are very efficient at converting food to energy, so they do not require as much grain as other livestock. "Alpacas are mellow, curious, family-oriented, and observant," she said. Peckham washes and blends the fiber herself. She sells the yarn, and she also knits sweaters, scarves and other items on a knitting machine.


Andelt, W.F. Livestock Guard Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys. Fact Sheet No. 1.218. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 2001.
"Guard dogs are an effective method to reduce predation on livestock. Guard llamas and donkeys also appear to reduce losses but appear less effective than guard dogs. Guard dogs can be used in farm flock/pasture operations and on open range. Llamas and donkeys are most effective in fenced pastures less than 300 acres. Raise guard dogs with sheep and treat them as working dogs. Introduce llamas and donkeys to sheep in small pens."

Andelt, W.F. and Hopper, S.N. Livestock guard dogs reduce predation on domestic sheep in Colorado. Journal of Range Management; 53:259267, May 2000.
"We surveyed the effectiveness of livestock guard dogs for reducing predation on domestic sheep in Colorado during 1993. The number of producers using dogs increased from about 25 in 1986 to >159 in 1993. The proportion of sheep with dogs increased from about 7% in 1986 to about 68% in 1993. Producers with dogs, compared to producers without dogs, lost smaller proportions of their lambs to predators, especially coyotes, and smaller proportions of ewes and lambs to black bears and mountain lions.... Estimates provided by 125 producers indicate that their 392 dogs saved $891,440 of sheep from predation during 1993. A total of 154 of 161 (96%) producers recommend use of guard dogs to other producers." (Full abstract)

Franklin, W.L. and Powell, K.J. Guard Llamas., 2001.
Guard llamas are a viable, non-lethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care. In a study, 145 sheep producers using guard llamas were interviewed to determine characteristics of the guard llamas and husbandry practices. Some of the results are presented, as well as a testimonial: "A true story, a llama guarding sheep or A Match Made in Heaven" by Bob Riley. The full study on guard llamas can be found at:

Franklin, W. and Drufke, N. The use of llamas to guard goats, cattle, and poultry from predators. Small Farm Today; 25, March 2003.
"In this study, we interviewed 136 ranchers who were using 237 llamas to protect goats, cattle, and poultry in order to determine if llamas were effective guards. Llamas decreased the amount of yearly predation from 13% to 1% of the herd on goat ranches, 13% to 0% on cattle ranches, and 40% to 6% on poultry ranches. In 78% of cases, predation on a ranch dropped to zero after introduction of the llama. Common behaviors of llamas protecting the livestock included standing at attention, running towards the predator, chasing the predator, and alarm calling. Ranchers rated their llamas as either effective or very effective as guards in 89% (goats), 92% (poultry), and 100% (cattle) of the cases. Overall, we found that llamas were an effective, low-cost, low-maintenance, non-lethal method to reduce predation on goat, cattle, and poultry ranches."

Geissel, D. Great Pyrenees as predator control dogs. Small Farm Today; 38-40, March 2004.
"Great Pyrenees (Pyr) are stock guarding dogs. They have been bred for centuries to perform this task. They are large (90-130 pounds), white-haired dogs who are absolutely fearless in protection of livestock against bears, mountain lions, coyotes, or wolves, and yet are wonderfully gentle with livestock and children."
Gasparotto, S.W. Livestock Guardian Dogs. Onion Creek Ranch.
Livestock, especially goats, sheep, poultry, needs protection from predators. Guardian dogs are the best protection. Practical hints from the rancher's own experience about their disposition and behavioral traits are given.
Hulet, C.V. et al. Bonding of goats to sheep and cattle for protection from predators. Applied Animal Behaviour Science; 22:261-267, 1989.
"Bonding can provide a predation shield for smaller coyote-vulnerable species, if they stay with the cattle. The natural instinct of sheep and goats to bunch together when threatened is probably essential for survival. Cattle move together in a loose herd allowing space for the sheep and goats to move among them. The threatening presence of the cattle is apparently adequate to intimidate coyotes."

NCAT Staff. Predator Control for Sustainable and Organic Livestock Production. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Oct. 2002.
"This publication examines how to identify livestock predators and how to control them. Many species of animals can be classified as predators, but coyotes and dogs account for more than three-quarters of all livestock lost to predators. This publication focuses primarily on the control of coyotes and dogs through management practices, such as fencing and secure areas, and the use of guard animals, such as dogs, donkeys, and llamas."
Swartz, H.A. Guard Dogs for Predator Control. Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, 1991.
"Guard dogs have become very effective in controlling predators and dogs on many Missouri sheep farms. Guard dogs must be properly trained to be successful. Patience, perseverance and discipline are required to teach a guard dog to bond and accept the responsibility of guarding a flock of sheep. Guard dogs protect sheep by patrolling, barking, scent-marking, and pursuing a predator when the sheep are threatened." Useful hints are given on selecting a gard dog; raising and integrating the puppy in a sheep operation; age at bonding pup to sheep; problems.

Tapscott, B. Guidelines for Using Donkeys As Guard Animals With Sheep. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Guelph, Ontario, Sept 1997.
"There has been significant interest in using livestock guard animals, sometimes also referred to as predator control animals or mobile flock protectors, as a non-lethal means of reducing predation. Livestock guard animals live with the flock, protecting the sheep from predation, without harming or interfering with the flock. Guard animals currently being used with sheep include specially trained dogs, llamas and donkeys. Donkeys are gaining in popularity due to their relatively low cost, minor maintenance requirements and longevity. Donkeys also offer the additional advantage in that they can be fed in much the same manner as sheep. This paper summarizes some of the management guidelines and other factors which may improve the likelihood of a donkey becoming a successful livestock guard animal."


Diversified Family Farms

Berton, V. 50 Ways to Sustainable Farming: Diversification in Nebraska: Raising food, not feed, raises profits. Featured farmer: Tom Larson. Field Notes. NC SARE Quarterly Fact Sheet; Winter/Spring 2001.
In the mid-70s, Tom Larson's 156-acre farm in Nebraska was too small in the prevailing "get big or get out" environment to make money. To survive Tom diversified crops, became certified organic and began a cattle stocker operation in a unique grazing system. He also raises poultry on pasture. His profitability goals go hand in hand with soil improvement. A major change came from raising pasture and forage for grazing rather than harvesting grain and feeding it to confined livestock.
Davis, W. A profitable, sustainable ranch. In: McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 10-12, 2000.
"Davis Ranch was a high-tech cattle and pecan production unit. The cattle market crash of 1974 served as a wake-up call to emphasize just how out-of-balance cost of production was, relative to realistic potential returns. A program was started to cut down costs. Changes to the program: 1. Get our production schedules in harmony with the natural cycles; to work with nature instead of against her. 2. Lengthen the quality grazing season by replacing monoculture pastures with mixtures of grasses and legumes both warm and cool season. 3. Replace nitrogen fertilizer with forage legumes and a functioning nutrient cycle. 4. Improve the production of our pastures and our cattle through good grazing management. 5. Use as little toxic material as possible and instead manage around the need for these materials. 6. Improve our stockmanship in order to reduce stress on our animals. What began as a cost-cutting program became a fascinating learning process that continues to this day. The major benefits came when life in all of its diverse forms returned as the effects of years of poisoning and tillage began to be healed. The program has been successful by all standards. Profitability has increased dramatically, labor requirements are reduced, and most important, the health of our soils, our animals, and ourselves continues to improve."

Barrett, J. Cultivating Community: Local Business People and Family Farmers Sharing Values and Mutual Support. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Unity, Maine, 2003.
Family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate. Small farms help economic development by circulating income locally and enhancing local businesses, schools, parks, churches, clubs, newspapers, services, employment, and civic participation. Local farmers base their animals'diets largely on grass and other forage. Grassfed meat, milk, and eggs are far healthier for human consumption. These benefits are realized partly because the animals are eating a more natural diet and partly because they are not held in tight confinement. Their bodies get to function naturally and they are not over-stressed by the social and disease factors of overcrowding. Grassfed beef is lower in fat . Grassfed livestock doesn't need antibiotics or growth hormones. They are living the way they were meant to live. Consumers, workers, and environmentalists should join forces with farmers to shape sustainable policy, as well as business leaders who have the visibility, the collective power, and vital interest needed to make sure family farms remain a part of their region. Farmers can't fight huge agribusiness alone. they need non-farmers to join them in getting farming policies passed that support community and the environment.

Edwards, S. Diversify your operation. Acres USA; 34(5):15-16, May 2004.
We have witnessed the passing of American agriculture from a family-owned, diversified operation to a corporate-controlled/commodity-based agricultural system. As a reaction to this, Urban and suburban consumers are 'hungry' for a connection to the land and are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and how it is produced. There is an explosive growth of farmers' markets nationwide and tremendous opportunities for a wide variety of specialty, homegrown, fresh products that serve niche markets. "Enter the diversified farming operation. By serving the needs of local markets and by making use of sustainable methods, the diversified farm produces a variety of clean, fresh, nutritious products for local customers. This is what agriculture should be and should have been all along. The 'new' trend is well underway. Consumers are aware that the nutritional quality, freshness and flavor of farm-raised produce is far superior to the industrial variety. There is no comparison farm-fresh wins every time."
Joannides, J., Kivirist, L., and Ivanko, J. Farming and ranching: Livestock. Renewing The Countryside. Web site. 2005.
"On this website you will find stories of everyday people making a difference in their rural communities"...These stories are meant to provide inspiration, ideas and assistance to individuals and communities who are looking for sustainable ways to strengthen their rural communities. "We accomplish our goals by sharing stories of rural renewal, building pubic awareness and support for sustainable endeavors, connecting people interested in sustainable rural development to each other, providing practical assistance and networking opportunities for those working to improve rural America, and fostering connections between urban and rural people."
Morning Has Broken Farm. Web Site. Land Stewardship Project.
Morning Has Broken Farm is 383 crop land and pasture acres in the heart of the rolling prairie of Southwestern Minnesota. "It is the home of 12 stock cows, Andy the bull, 50 ewes, 15 sows, Edgar the boar, 1000 broiler chickens and 8 beautiful Arabian horses." All animals are raised on pasture, no antibiotics or hormones are given. The farm history, farming practices, and family goals are outlined, and a farm phototour is available on the web page.

Padgham, J. Diversified small farm serves local market: Tony and Dela End's Scotch Hill Farm . The Organic Broadcaster. MOSES. The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin, Nov-Dec 2002.
"Following organic practices, though not certified, in 2002 Scotch Hill Farm served 75 families through a CSA, sold chicken and eggs from 120 laying hens, and made and sold soap from the milk of several goats. The Ends are very focused on the concept of 'local food for local consumers' and have a goal of selling all of their production within 70 miles of their farmstead... Dominique and Jersey Giant chickens, heirloom turkeys, LaMancha and Oberhaslis goats and meat lambs now inhabit the barnyard. Poultry are truly free ranging and have full access to the un-fenced yard 24 hours per day. Sheep and goats are contained in a pasture nearby. Predators are controlled by the dogs."
Pastures A Plenty Farm. Web Site. Land Stewardship Project.
"The Pasture of Plenty Farm is home to a hog farrow finishing operation as well as a sheep flock and seasonal cattle grazing business. Decision making is by the Holistic Management Model, which takes into account the environment and family/community as well as long-term profitability. The farm is a grazing operation, with hogs on pasture seasonally as well as a flock of ewes which live there pretty much year around. Beef cattle are added to the sheep flock for the grazing season only. The hogs have young both spring and fall, and the offspring are fed to market weight either on grass or straw in hoop houses depending upon the season. In either case, they have the full opportunity to play and explore their environment. And they have access to fresh air and sunshine, which is so necessary for quality pork."
Profile of David and Kay James. "Farming and Ranching for Profit, Stewardship & Community." SARE 2000 conference proceedings. SARE, 2001.
"The Jameses and their children operate the James Ranch, a 450-acre ranch in the picturesque Animas River Valley near Durango, Colorado, where they grow and market grassfed beef and pastured poultry, along with organic produce and flowers. All of their products are sold through their weekly farm market (at the ranch), or through the Durango farmers market and other local outlets. The Jameses are a living experiment in small-scale, high-value holistic agriculture."
Salatin, J. Profit by appointment only: This farm family puts quality first, and their customers love it. The New Farm; 13(6):8-12, Sept/Oct. 1991.
The Salatins produce food for more than 400 customers who come to them by appointment to pick it up. By integrating forage, forest and livestock on 550 acres, they enrich the soil and make a comfortable living. Their farm relies on high levels of management, rather than expensive machinery and off-farm inputs. They've spent 30 years recycling nutrients and increasing soil fertility and forage diversity in their pastures. While producing beef, broilers, eggs, rabbits and vegetables on just 100 acres of open land with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they try to keep these goals in mind: produce good food at a reasonable price; minimize marketing costs; target time and money to their areas of expertise farming. They use controlled grazing as a tool that can change the species complexion of a perennial sward. Such control requires flexible and portable electric fencing and water systems. Chickens clean up pastures. The Salatins have devised an eggmobile, a portable henhouse, that they roll over pastures and put the layers to work. While the hens free-range around the eggmobile, they break up cow patties.
Salatin, J. Family friendly faming. Acres USA. A Voice for Eco-Agriculture; 30(9):1-5, 2000.
Joel Salatin cultivates a vibrant sense of beauty and harmony at his Swoope, Virginia, farm, where each member of the family adds unique talents that are important to the health and success of the farm. "In a family farm operation, everybody has a niche to fill. At Polyface Farm, we believe that diversifying responsibilities allows us to make many decisions at once, increasing the number of decisions made. We all have something different to offer, and every child's talent is different. We have to appreciate their talents and create opportunities for children to express their natural abilities rather than saying, 'Well, I raise chickens so you are going to raise chickens.' Let the children express themselves."
Sayre, L. A rich mix of the new ... and old. the New Farm; Feb. 2005
In scenic northeast Iowa, organic farmer Dan Specht combines conservation, grass-based livestock production and open-pollinated corn breeding. It's a unique--yet in many ways traditional--farming strategy that honors the diversity of this region's natural and agricultural heritage.
Stone & Thistle Farm. East Meredith, NY.
Sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, pigs and rabbits are raised on pasture at Stone & Thistle Farm. "The farm's hilly pastures and slopes provide the perfect feast for goats. Goats are excellent foragers. Raised on nature's bounty of multiflora roses, thistles, burdock, berries and hawthorns, they help the environment and us by keeping pastures groomed.... Pigs are raised the old fashioned way on pasture and forage in fields and woodlands.... Laying hens roam freely on pastures protected by electrified net fencing. They lay eggs in a cabin on wheels that is moved on pasture."

Sustainable Farming: Livestock production for family farms

Cramer, C. Sustainable Farming Connection: Where farmers find and share information. Web site. Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing, © 1997.
The mission of the Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing is to bring farmers the information they need to cut costs, grow healthy food, build strong rural communities and improve the environment. The web site was launched to fill the information void left by the New Farm magazine's demise. It has a wealth of information and resources on news, projects, discussion groups, production and marketing, links.
Digiacomo, G. et al. Sustainable Farming Systems: Demonstrating Environmental and Economic Performance. Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA); University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, 2001.
The Sustainable Farming Systems Project researched the impacts of different farming systems on soil erosion, water quality, and the profitability of rotational grazing and also looked at home and community quality of life of farmers and rural land owners. Three farms (two dairy grazing operations and one beef cow-calf grazing operation) were profiled in great detail, measuring soils, rainfall, and runoff from their fields. At the same time, extensive data on production and finances were analyzed to evaluate the bottom line. Four years of painstaking research proved that these sustainable farms simultaneously benefit the environment and economically benefit the farm family. The dual goal of sustaining the land and sustaining the farmer is proven to work. Sustainable farms demonstrate environmental and economic performances that match and often exceed conventional farms.
Hall, B. and Kuepper, G. Making the Transition to Sustainable Farming . ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Dec. 1997.
"Sustainable agriculture is dependent on a whole-system approach having as its focus the long-term health of the land. As such, it concentrates on long-term solutions to problems instead of short-term treatment of symptoms. One result of such a strategy is that use of agricultural chemicals and similar inputs is reduced, though not necessarily eliminated. As a consequence, the land develops diversity and resiliency that further reduce the need for agricultural chemicals. It is widely agreed that a truly sustainable farm system must be sustainable economically, ecologically and socially. To be economically sustainable, farms should generate sufficient equitable returns to support farm families and to provide an economic base for the surrounding community. To be ecologically sustainable, farming methods must be modeled on nature to foster energy flow, effective water and mineral cycles, and viable community dynamics. To be socially sustainable, agriculture should promote the physical, spiritual, cultural, and economic health of farm families and communities."
Horne, J. Steps to a sustainable agriculture. Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter; 24(2) Fall 1998.
"Goals for a Sustainable Agriculture: 1. Conserve and create healthy soil. 2. Conserve water and protect its quality. 3. Manage organic wastes and farm chemicals so they don't pollute. 4. Select plants and animals adapted to the natural environment. 5. Encourage biodiversity (of domesticated animals, plants, wildlife, microbiotic and aquatic life). 6. Manage pests (weeds, disease, insects) with minimal environmental impact. 7. Conserve non-renewable energy resources. 8. Increase profitability and reduce risk."
Ikerd, J. The New American Farmer. Sustainable Agriculture Network (SARE-SAN), Beltsville, MD, 2001.
"This new SARE publication collects in-depth interviews with farmers and ranchers to describe sustainable farm operations around the country. In addition to describing successful farming practices, the features in The New American Farmer detail the effects of those practices on farm profitability, quality of life, rural communities and the environment. "
Ikerd, J. Sustaining America's rural communities. In: McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 6-9, 2000.
FULL-TEXT [Scroll down to find article]
" The industrialization of agriculture has caused many rural communities to wither and die. Some communities have diversified to reduce their dependence on agriculture. But many rural communities continue to be dependent on agriculture and suffer with farmers through every agricultural crisis. The trend toward fewer and larger farms in the U.S. is but a phase of a cycle that may well be nearing an end. The increased knowledge needed to manage resources sustainably suggests a trend toward smaller family farms that allow farm families to remain personally connected to the land. Sustainable agriculture strategies provide more opportunities for local ownership, hands-on management, and long-term commitment to the local community. Sustainable rural communities, like sustainable farms, must maintain the productivity of their local resources while protecting their physical and social environments."
Land Stewardship Project: Food & Farm Connection. Web Site. Land Stewardship Project (LSP), White Bear Lake, MN, 2001.
"A growing number of farmers are choosing to work with nature, and are adopting farming practices that build up the soil, reduce runoff, create habitat for wildlife, treat livestock humanely and produce safe, wholesome food. But the most environmentally sound farming practices in the world mean little if they don't provide a good income for the farmer. Farmers using sustainable methods cannot prosper without the help of urban and rural consumers. As these farmers explore creative new ways to market their carefully grown products, consumers can support their choice to farm sustainably by purchasing those products."

McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, 2000.
The sessions not only discuss innovative, successful marketing systems, livestock and cropping systems, and natural resource management but also examine building sustainable rural communities.
Mulla, D., Everett, L., and DiGiacomo, G. Whole Farm Planning: Combining Family, Profit, and Environment. Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; University of Minnesota Extension Service , St. Paul, MN, 1998.
"Whole Farm Planning is a four-step process which can be used by the farm family to balance the quality of life they desire with the farm's resources, the need for production and profitability, and long-term stewardship. Benefits of Whole Farm Planning include maintaining or improving profitability while enhancing sustainability. The planning process helps the farm family define long- and short-term goals which lead to an improved quality of life, and a better relationship with the community."
The New Farm (web site). Rodale Institute. 2003.
Excellent web site with a wealth of information and resources on sustainable farming news, projects, discussion groups, production and marketing; and links to other web sites and organizations both national and international.
Salatin, J. Balance: Stability for your life and farm. Acres USA. A Voice for Eco-Agriculture; 32(4):1-3, 2002.
Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm strives for a balance of open land, water and forest - creating a greater diversity of plant and animal life. "Our world needs us to provide examples of balance, to show that production need not compromise the local ecology, to show that a profitable business need not adulterate the demographics of the community."
Salatin, J. Emotionally-, economically- and environmentally-enhancing agriculture. In: McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 1-2, 2000.
"As farmers, we are in the landscape business. Whether we have a window box, a backyard or a million acre ranch, the more we can intersect the three basic environments of open land, forest land, and water, the greater the diversity of plant and animal life. The greater the diversity, the more stable the ecosystem. Guiding principles are: 1. All food production and processing models must be aesthetically and aromatically pleasing, period. Otherwise, it's not good farming. 2. All plants and animals must be produced domestically in a way that most closely approximates their natural setting. 3. All plants and animals should be allowed to express their physiological distinctiveness. 4. The more plants and animals a farm can integrate in close proximity, the better. 5. A farm is a solar collector and should run on current solar dollars; it should generate far more energy than it uses." Joel Salatin gives examples from his farm.

Salatin, J. Relationship marketing. In: McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 34-35, 2000.
FULL-TEXT  [scroll down]
The following summary of guidelines was presented:" 1. Diversifying your pitch through education: Consumers need to be told how your product differs from the competition. Giving out samples of your products always works. Turn your patrons into evangelists by rewarding their efforts with free merchandise. 2. Diversifying your patrons: It's easier to find 100 people who will spend $1,000 with you than 1,000 people who will spend $100. Once you have your patron, diversify your product line so that you can capture more of the patron's money per visit. 3. Diversifying your product: A. Farmers' markets: Extending your efforts into multiple venues garners additional exposure and allows you to touch people who may not be ready to come out to the farm. B. Restaurants: The taste and texture of clean food makes it highly marketable to discriminating chefs. Given the choice, patrons will often choose food produced in a humane or non-chemical way. Product differentiation is key. And nothing is more uniquely recognizable than superior quality."
SARE staff. Exploring Sustainability in Agriculture: Ways to Enhance Profits, Protect the Environment and Improve Quality of Life. USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Washington, DC, 1999.
"Agriculture is often viewed as consisting of three types of systems: economic, ecological and social. Sustainable improvement in agriculture -- usually thought of in terms of farm profitability, environmental stewardship and quality of life for farm families and rural communities -- must be based on these interlocking aspects of agriculture." This document gives a summary of what sustainable agriculture is with examples of sustainable farms and outlines the elements of sustainability.
Van Der Pol, J. Conversations with the land: The relationship between livestock and the land. Greenbook 2000, Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program. Minnesota Department of Agriculture, St. Paul, Minn., pp. 4-6, 2000.
"To separate livestock from the land impoverishes land, reduces the usefulness of livestock and interferes with fertility of the entire system. The separation is a major roadblock to long term farm profitability to say nothing of agricultural system health..... A grassland system is never just plants and never just animals. That would be ludicrous. The plants and animals need each other. They must live together in a kind of harmony or interlocking dependence. That then, is the blueprint for a grassland farm."
Savory, A. The New agriculture. The Agriculture Vision 2000 Conference. Sustaining the Agricultural Community in the New Millennium, January 11, 2000, Great Bend, Kansas. The Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management, Albuquerque, NM, pp. 2000.
"Many minds are independently beginning to acknowledge the need to shift from a linear and systems-based world view and management to a holistic world view and management by process rather than prescribed systems. And, fortunately, this is not just theoretical, as many farmers, ranchers, academics, and corporations have begun to do so in practice in a number of countries." Holistic principles are outlined.

Sullivan, P. Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision Making Framework. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., July 2001.
"Sustainable agriculture seeks in principle to "sustain" economic viability, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. These three tenets are to be embraced as one functional unit. Decisions concerning a sustainable agriculture should then enhance the environment and the farmer's economic situation and benefit the regional society. Holistic management gives us a way to move forward on these three tenets. It gives us a way to design agriculture to truly mimic nature's principles of sustainability. It gives us a way to make decisions that automatically take into account the society, the economics, and the environment before they are made. This publication serves as an introduction to holistic management and provides resources for further information. Holistic Management is a decision making framework that assists farmers and others in establishing a long-term goal, a detailed financial plan, a biological plan for the landscape and a monitoring program to assess progress toward the goal. Holistic Management helps managers to ask the right questions and guides them in setting priorities. In holistic financial planning, profit is planned at the beginning of the year. This is in stark contrast to conventional financial planning where the net profit is often non-existent or a small amount left over once expenses are accounted for."

Whole Farm Cooperative. Web Site. Long Prairie, MN, 2000.
Whole Farm Co-operative represents 30 member families in Central Minnesota committed to creating farms that nourish the farmers' "families spiritually and economically, sustain the environment, and with providing eaters not only with safe wholesome food but with a clear sense of who and where their food came from. It seeks to create urban and rural links as well as linking with farmers from around the world who are involved in the struggle to create a sustainable agriculture for all of us." Pigs are given plenty of sunshine, exercise and fresh air. Chickens are free range birds and their feed is free of antibiotics. Cows are grass-fed, free of chemicals and antibiotics. Grazing cows restores water quality and wildlife habitat and is safer for farmers because fewer machines are involved.
Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). "Farming and Ranching for Profit, Stewardship & Community." Sustainable Agriculture... Continuing to grow. SARE 2000 conference proceedings. SARE.
Profiles of sustainable farms and sustainable ranches. Farmers also share how they market, either directly to the clients on the farm, or through farmers' markets.


SARE staff. Reap New Profits: Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers. USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Washington, DC, 1999.
"Good marketing is becoming a must for small agricultural enterprises to be successful. Rather than accepting non-negotiable prices offered by wholesalers, direct marketers put the power to turn a profit back in their own hands. Alternative marketing outlets offer direct connections to customers, providing them an opportunity to get fresh products and knowledge about how they've been grown. Producers can learn what their customers need. The bottom line: Whether the product is beef or fresh-picked vegetables, selling products directly to consumers offers farmers a better price. This bulletin profiles successful direct marketers across the country and includes tips about how to start a number of alternative agricultural marketing enterprises."
Adam, K., Balasubrahmanyam, R., and Born, H. Direct Marketing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Nov. 1999.
"This publication on direct marketing alternativeswith emphasis on niche, specialty and value added crops features many farm case studies, as well as information on enterprise budgets and promotion/publicity. A new section discusses implications of Internet marketing and ecommerce for agriculture."

Practical Livestock Welfare

Grandin, T. Behavioral principles of livestock handling. Professional Animal Scientist; 1-11, December 1989.
"Reducing stress during handling will improve productivity and prevent physiological changes that could confound research results or lower productivity. Handling stresses lower conception rates and reduces both immune and rumen function. Handlers who understand livestock behavior can reduce stress. Livestock have wide angle vision and they are easily frightened by shadows or moving distractions outside of chutes. Solid sides on chutes will reduce agitation and excitement. Noise should be kept to a minimum because animals have sensitive hearing. When wild cattle or sheep are handled the handler should work on the edge of the flight zone to avoid agitation. Cattle, pigs, and sheep are herd animals and isolation of a single individual should be avoided. An animal's previous experience with handling will affect its reaction to handling in the future. Animals which have had frequent gentle contact with people will be less stressed during handling than animals which have had previous aversive treatment. Livestock can be trained to voluntarily enter a restraining device. The restraint device should be gradually introduced and should not cause pain. Feed rewards will facilitate training. Training animals to voluntarily submit to handling procedures would be especially useful for valuable breeding animals and animals used for research."
Grandin, T. Review: Reducing handling stress improves both productivity and welfare. The Professional Animal Scientist; 14(1) 1998.
"Reducing stress on livestock during handling will help reduce sickness and enable cattle to go back on feed more quickly. Many detrimental effects of handling stressors on animal performance and health are likely due to fear. Practical experience on ranches and feedlots shows that making cattle accustomed to people both on foot and on horseback will produce calmer and easier to handle cattle. An animal's first experience with a new corral, a person, or pieces of equipment should be made as positive as possible. If a painful or very aversive procedure is done the first time, it may be difficult to persuade the animal to re-enter the facility. The following tips will improve handling: move small numbers of animals at a time, do not overload the crowd pen, eliminate electric prods, open anti-back gates, eliminate visual distractions that make animals balk, use flight zone and point of balance principles, and reduce noise."
Grandin, T. Thinking the way animals do. Western Horseman; 140-145, Nov. 1997.
Animals think by making visual associations. These associations are like snapshots of events and tend to be very specific. Animals also tend to make place-specific associations. Fear is the main emotion in prey animals such as horses and cattle. Objects that make sudden movements are the most fear-provoking. In the wild, sudden movement is feared because predators make sudden movements. Animals are also fearful of high-pitched noises. People working with horses and other animals need to think more about how the animals perceive the situations we put them in.
Kidd. R. Put away your prod: herd stock with less stress by understanding how they think. The New Farm; 16(5):6-10, 44, July/Aug 1994.
"Low-stress animal handling not only results in higher animal performance but also less stress and greater personal satisfaction for you." To reduce animal stress, you first have to understand how your animals think. You need to know how livestock perceive your presence and movements, and how they naturally respond. You need to understand the dynamics of what is called the 'flight' zone.
Kidd, R. Help livestock keep their cool: Water and shade are keys to comfort. The New Farm; 15(5):8-12, July/Aug. 1993.
In most parts of the U.S. heat stress is the most costly and insidious environmental factor affecting livestock. There are many strategies to help keep livestock cool: Plenty of clean, cool water; shade: Trees are a natural choice. Portable or permanent artificial shade structures are another alternative; evaporative cooling: ponds and mud holes, foggers and misters, hog sprayers. "When you consider all the natural, low-cost ways to help livestock beat the heat, you start to wonder why we sometimes lock ourselves into systems that can keep them cool only at great expense."
Low-stress livestock handling: Herding methods and facilities that put less stress on you and your stock. In: Cramer, C., Sustainable Farming Connection: Where farmers find and share information. Web site. Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing, © 1997.
"It's no secret that stress reduces disease resistance and increases health care costs -- whether you're talking about livestock or people. These sites and other resources will help you increase your stock's productivity and profits by showing you ways to reduce stress in the way you handle and herd animals and how you design and build your livestock facilities."
Low stress livestock handling. In: Ingram, R., Sustainable ranching research and education project: Ranching with nature . University of California Cooperative Extension, Davis, CA, pp. © 1997, 1998.
"Stress is one of the great hidden costs in the livestock industry. The good news is that making changes in our attitudes can lead to benefits economically and relationally without any associated capital or direct costs. We just have to be willing to invest time to learn." The principles and techniques developed by Bud Williams, the world's leading expert on handling animals are presented, and training programs to learn the techniques are offered as part of the UC Cooperative Extension program. In order for you to be able to work with animals the way Bud Williams does, you must change your basic attitude about livestock. Instead of the attitude: "I'm going to MAKE that animal do what I want", think: "I'm going to LET that animal do what I want." Instead of thinking that if you have problems, it is because of the animal or the working environment, ask yourself: "What did I do to cause that animal to react that way?"
Mortimer, J. and Mortimer, B. Shelter & Shade: Creating a Healthy and Profitable Environment for Your Livestock With Trees . Green Park Press, Jackson, Miss., 1996.
This book shows farmers and ranchers how to add a healthy, natural environment for their livestock, and at the same time improve their bottom line and beautify the landscape. It includes guided suggestions on planting shelterbelts to protect livestock from harsh winds, snow, and summer sun; enhancing the livestock's diet and cutting purchased feed costs by planting suitable forage trees; creating habitats with trees to attract birds, bees, and wildlife, adding to farms' beauty and diversity.

Smithfield's Invasion of Poland

by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Reprinted from The Ecologist
Date Published: 26/11/03
Author: Robert Kennedy Jr and Tracey Worcester

Fields covered with faeces, children vomiting at school, plastic bins stuffed full of dead pigs. Robert Kennedy and Tracy Worcester experience firsthand the reality of life in Smithfield's Poland.

Ignoring Smithfield's 'no entry' sign, we clambered over wire barriers and wrenched open the ventilation shaft of one of three vast concrete and corrugated iron sheds. The noise was deafening. Five thousand squealing pigs were crammed into strawless compartments inside the recently opened pig factory near the town of Szczecinek in the northwestern Polish province Zachodnio-Pomorskie.

Back outside, effluent from cement cesspits had over-flowed – sending a small stream of brown, stinking liquid into the lake below, which had then frozen over. In a large plastic bin we found 20 dead pigs. When we'd looked the night before, it had been empty.

It seems that the entire operation is illegal. During the communist era, the state farm had employed 44 locals. Officials told us that Prima (a Polish company now owned by Smithfield) had only been given a permit to renovate the derelict farm on condition it guaranteed 15 local jobs. Instead, no locals were employed and 5,000 pigs arrived in the dead of night. Villagers only grasped what had happened when the company began illegally dumping liquid faeces on the snow-covered fields.

People were angry and frightened, but village and township officials told us they were powerless to defend their community as the local government had taken Prima's side.

'If you had informed us of Smithfield's record six months earlier,' they told us, 'we would have refused all permits and prevented Prima from gaining a foothold.' Now they could only ask for our help in challenging the company on environmental grounds.

A few miles north we visited Prima's factory farm at Nielep, where 30,000 pigs are confined. We were met at the compound gate by a tall man in a surgical face mask. Removing the mask, he identified himself as the manager and demanded that we kept away. Responding to our questions about animal welfare, he claimed that although there was no bedding for the pigs, the factory had all the appropriate permits and required number of employees. However, he refused to say exactly how many pigs were impounded, how many died each day or what mix of chemicals were pumped into them. Admitting that he had been taken to Smithfield installations in North Carolina for training, he mouthed the standard company line: 'Our local and national opponents are selfishly concerned with animal welfare instead of feeding the world'.

Local resistance

In a nearby village, a meeting had been convened for local farmers and authorities to hear Tom Garrett of the animal rights advocacy group the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) describe Smithfield's record in the US. People sat in stunned silence as they tried to grasp the impending destruction of their livelihoods and community.

When Garrett had finished, the audience erupted. Many demanded that the local authorities in Poland take control of the country's former state farms and give tenancies to former employees rather than foreign transnationals. Desperate and angry, one old lady confirmed what we had already seen: 'The company has been spreading effluent over snow-covered fields,' she explained. 'People have developed rashes and stomach upsets.' The stench from the effluent had caused vomiting, which threatened the closure of the local school and the destruction of local businesses. To raucous applause, a local politician declared: 'Smithfield must be kicked out.'

This same cry is now being heard all over Poland, with locals signing petitions and farmers forming blockades to get Smithfield out. Across the provincial border from Zachodnio-Pomorskie is Wieckowice, a beautiful village of brick and wooden homes, shrines and long stone barns in the region of Wielkopolska. There we found several dozen local activists carrying signs outside a former state farm owned by Smithfield's Polish subsidiary Animex. The facility has permits for only 500 cows and 500 pigs. It has been reported that it houses 17,000 pigs. The farm is 40 yards from an elementary school where residents say their children get sick and vomit because of the pig odours.

Among the protesters was Irena Kowalak, a dignified woman who served as village mayor for 35 years. She told us she had resigned recently because of intimidation by Smithfield. Andrzej

Nowakowski is the governor of Wielkopolska. Nowakowski said that the local population was unanimously and adamantly opposed to Smithfield and that he refused to give the company permits when it bought the farm two years ago. But six months later Poland's environment ministry overrode him.

Nonetheless, thanks to the governor, Smithfield has not been able to get permits for liquid manure. So the farm uses straw bedding and has not yet devised a plan for disposing of its waste. Fields of wheat surround the pig barns, but they are never harvested because Smithfield is not interested in agriculture. To Smithfield, these fields are a place to dump the notorious wastes of industrial meat production.

A convoy of indignant Wieckowice residents took us out to see the giant pile of pig manure. On the side of a 1,000-acre wheat field was a mountain of pig waste 150 metres long, four metres high and 50 metres wide. 'Seventeen thousand pigs for six months,' a young man said, nodding at the pile. Local authorities have been ordering Smithfield to move the illegal pile for six months, but the company has refused. The night before our visit Smithfield covered its pile with a giant black tarpaulin, which was already inflated and writhing with the internal pressure of methane gas.

Half a mile downhill from the pile, villagers had created a public beach on a 1,500-acre lake where umbrellas shaded dozens of families swimming and playing on a steamy 90º day. Manure residues festered on the shores of a nearby bay into which Smithfield's waste pile drains. An old man with twinkling blue eyes stuck his hand into the water, smelled his fingers and offered us a whiff. 'Smithfield Foods,' he announced.

Governor Nowakowski told us that there is another Smithfield factory, in Sedziny, that has 4,500 pigs but a permit for only 1,000 cows. He said his assistants were now inspecting the facility. 'But,' he explained, 'the legislation is very difficult for the local government to enforce [without state support].' Unfortunately, the federal government is not supporting the Wielkopolska authorities.

Nowakowski is not the only local politician begging for federal help. Zofia Wilczynska is a deputy in the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's national parliament. Wilczynska has complained to the federal government that a Smithfield operation in Polczyn Zdroj is endangering the northern Polish town's 400-year-old health spa. Right over by Poland's northeastern border with the Russian Federation enclave of Kaliningrad (former East Prussia) another health spa, in Goldap, is also threatened by pollution and odours from a Smithfield site.

The day after our visit to Wieckowice, a member of a parliamentary agriculture committee told us that the Polish government had recently conducted an investigation of 16 Smithfield farms (14 owned by the corporation and two owned by front groups it controlled). The agricultural ministry found that every one of the farms had broken Poland's veterinary, health and construction laws. Yet when Smithfield lacks proper permits, or is caught breaking the law, it is fined, laughably, just a few hundred dollars.

Sometimes Smithfield just buys officials off. A hundred miles north of Wieckowice, the mayor of the Western Pomeranian village Wierzchowo gave Smithfield permits for two enormous farms after the company paid his wife approximately $4,000 to perform the environmental impact assessment.

Local communities devastated

The economic impacts of Smithfield's production methods are devastating local communities and markets. When Smithfield took over Animex, the latter's three principal farms near Goldap employed 60 employees. Following the farms' conversion to automated pig factories, only seven of these workers remain.

Smithfield says it wants to produce 6 million pigs in Poland each year. Polish peasants currently rear 20 million pigs per year, and a quarter of them will have to lose their livelihoods to make way for Smithfield. The corporation is already squeezing the small farms. In Western Pomerania we found that the region's small slaughterhouses had already been closed, and that the remaining Smithfield-owned slaughterhouse would not slaughter pigs from small farms. The same will soon apply to the rest of Poland. Once Smithfield controls the slaughterhouses and has eliminated local markets, it will be able to control prices and, ultimately, the farms.

Avoiding the monoculture in Poland

Instead of reinventing itself to mimic the failed systems in Europe and the US, Poland should celebrate its assets and sell them to the world. Polish meat tastes much better than factory meat. Polish sausage is world famous. Consumers like knowing that their meat is from animals that were humanely raised in ways that are good for the environment, supportive of family farms, and free of dangerous hormones, antibiotics and chemicals. But all these things make quality meat more expensive than factory meat. And when the consumer sees free-range pork that does not look much different to a Smithfield cut, they will choose the cheaper product. The answer is branding.

When Europe opens its markets to Poland, the Poles should establish a market for their produce by using branding to draw attention to their traditional values. The AWI has offered the Polish government to help brand the country's pork internationally. The institute specialises in helping small farmers by finding consumers who are willing to pay a premium for produce that is healthy and raised humanely and without the use of antibiotics and hormones.

Anybody who pays a premium for Polish meat will be getting a good deal. Some of the meat and sausage that we gorged on in Poland was among the best we've tasted. Pork of the kind produced by traditional Polish farms is widely recognised to be tastier and juicier than confinement pork of the sort produced by Smithfield.

If Poland is going to flourish rather than flounder, the nation needs to recognise its enormous strengths and start believing in itself. The words 'produced in Poland' should become a standard for high quality. This is no easy challenge. But the easy way out, signing a contract with Smithfield, is not the solution.

A last bastion of tradition in Poland

Poland is an oasis of traditional farming in a world dominated by agribusiness multinationals. Around 2 million Poles, about 18 per cent of the country's population, are farmers or members of farming families. That's as many as the rest of central Europe put together.

The Polish landscape is not yet marked by the vast monocultures of row crops that are typical of the US. Currently, Poland is a country of picturesque farm villages, with farms that average five hectares and modest homes of wood, timber and fieldstone. Typically, each farmer has a horse, a couple of cows and some pigs and chickens. Animals are raised free range and humanely. And Polish farmers rotate a variety of crops in the traditional way that fosters healthy soils.
Many Polish farmhouses still have occupied stork nests on their roofs. The country hosts 25 per cent of the world's white stork population – some 50,000 pairs. – more than the whole of western Europe combined. Elsewhere in the continent the bird has been exterminated by modern agriculture practices: liquid manure and pesticides effectively wipe out the fish, frogs, crabs and insects that storks eat. In Denmark, for example, there are only six pairs left.

Poland has large stands of timber as well as the last sanctuaries of European bison and Europe's last clean-flowing unregulated rivers. It has purer soils than anywhere else in Europe. Its land is uncontaminated by pesticide and fertiliser residue and almost entirely free of the heavy metals caused by industrial smokestack pollution throughout the rest of Europe.

Smithfield's Tasteless Enterprise

Millions of years of natural selection have endowed pigs with back fat to regulate their body temperature. But Smithfield gets more money from meat than from fat, so the company has bred its own strain of super-lean pigs with almost no back fat. They are highly-strung and unable to survive normal outside temperatures.

Food professionals say this extreme leanness has dramatically diminished the quality of US pork. Food magazine Saveur described the pigs of modern confinement agriculture as being so skinny that they look 'like dachshunds'. While applauding traditional farming methods of the kind used in Poland, The New York Times Magazine stated: 'The pork industry has managed to engineer a pig with almost no fat at all. And this is why most modern recipes for pork involve some kind of liquid – putting the meat in a marinade before cooking, basting it while cooking or braising it in broth. If you simply grill a mass-market pork chop, it becomes inedibly dry.' The Times went on to say that free-range pork 'is rich when sliced and sautéed, fine textured and robust in flavour. It needs nothing more than seasoning with salt'. The dryness and poor taste of confinement pork have become so bad that many major pork companies are now 'enhancing' their pork: adding water, flavoured liquids, or even stock to their tray-pack and prepared meats, and using red food colouring to improve its drab appearance.

Financing the Slaughter

Financial institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) use EU taxpayers' money to subsidise companies like Smithfield. The result? Small farmers disappear, food quality deteriorates, animal welfare suffers. Although it claims to be 'environmentally sensitive', the EBRD has joined with the Polish banks BRE and Rabobank Polska to provide a $100m loan to Smithfield's Polish subsidiary Animex.

The EBRD's 'project summary' states: 'Follow-up investigations of [EBRD] environmental staff and discussion with Smithfield management responsible for such issues demonstrated that the [Animex] facilities comply with the national requirements for environment, health and safety.' Yet the evidence suggests that the EBRD is consciously and deliberately backing a corporate takeover of Polish agriculture. The bank's press releases and 'transition impact' statements are full of talk about 'restructuring Poland's agribusiness and food industry'. The EBRD refers, for example, to the 'restructuring of the meat-processing sector' and 'the consolidation of the agribusiness sector'.

The reality is that Poland, like the rest of the modern world, is about to bury an ancient culture based on community living, family and land stewardship for the benefit of future generations. As Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare Institute has lamented: 'There is no salvation to be found in industrial agriculture owned and controlled by foreign multinational corporations. There is only damage.'

For more information about the EBRD's involvement in Poland:


As Smithfield buys local companies to front their operations, it is difficult to trace its products. The surest way of avoiding them is not to buy from supermarkets but to buy organic or locally produced pork from local butchers or farmers' markets instead. To find information about local producers, visit: or

In the UK Smithfield's pork products are marketed under the brand name PEK. However, it is more than likely that Smithfield meat is also ending up in mass-produced products like pizzas. So, while not buying PEK-branded products is good, not buying anything containing non-organic pork is better.

Contribute to or join the AWI (; it is the only humane organisation fighting the cruelty of pig factory farming in Poland. But the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside is also doing important work. See its website at

Robert Kennedy Jr is the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots coalition dedicated to protecting water systems from pollution; Tracy Worcester is the associate director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (, a non-profit organisation that aims to protect cultural and biological diversity

Anti-Cockfighting Bill Introduced in Congress

Colorado Senator Wayne Allard and Minnesota Congressman CollinPeterson have introduced legislation to eliminate a loophole inthe federal Animal Welfare Act which allows fighting birds tobe shipped from states where cockfighting is illegal to stateswhere the cruel "sport" is still allowed, Only threestates permit this inhumane, bloody activity: New Mexico, Louisianaand Oklahoma.

Currently, law enforcement officers have a difficult time crackingdown on illegal cockfights in the 47 states where it is banned.When confronted, cockfighters merely claim that the fighting birdsin their possession are destined for shipment to a legal cockfightingstate. Prosecution of these unscrupulous cockfighters would befacilitated if the Allard bill (S. 345) and the Peterson bill(H.R. 1275) become law.

Cockfightingis a centuries-old bloodsport in which two ormore specially hired roosters are forced into a pit to fight surroundedby gambling onlookers. Often, one or both birds die as a resultof the fight because their feet are fitted with razor sharp steelknives. The birds may end up with punctured wings, broken bonesand pierced eyes. Even the battle's "winner" may ultimatelydie from injuries sustained inthe fight. And birds that survive but are deemed unfit to fightagain are either killed by their owner or simply thrown in a garbagecan to suffer and die.

Independent of Senator Allard's federal legislative initiative,there is a move underway in Oklahoma to prohibit cockfightingwithin the state, joining Missouri and Arizona which just bannedcockfighting through citizen ballot initiatives last November.Oklahoma State Representative Charles Gray has introduced legislationto ban cockfighting specifically. Cockfighters in the state Suchas Walt Roberts, however, object to people trying "to endthe sport because it is not within their definition of what ishumane" according to Oklahoma's Tulsa World newspaper.

But Representative Gray is not alone in hisopposition to this horrible fighting. A statewide poll sponsoredby the Tulsa World revealed 2 to 1 opposition to cockfighting:if a cockfighting ban were put to a vote, 65 percent of Oklahomanswould vote in favor while only 30 percent would vote against.As long as there is powerful and vocal rural opposition in thestate, however, it is unlikely that the legislature would voteto end the cruel practice of cockfighting. This makes passageof Senator Allard's federal legislationall the more important.

AWI Quarterly, Spring 1999, Vol. 48, No.2, p. 10

New Food Seal Sets Highest Standards for Humane Treatment of Farm Animals

Animal Welfare Approved Surpasses Other Seals; First Humane Program to Champion Family Farms and Repudiate Double Standards in Other Labeling Programs

New Standards Supported by Farmers, Top Chefs and Notables Such as Willie Nelson, Rosemary Harris and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Voters Reject Factory Farms

AWI Quarterly Fall/Winter1998-1999: Farm Animals

VotersReject Factory Farms
Anti-Factory FarmCandidates Win, Struggle Against Factory Farms Continues

by Tom Garrett

In 1998, the proliferation of hog factories, which has embroiledstate legislatures and county commissions for much of the decade,reached center stage as a national issue. On November 3, in thewords of the Wall Street Journal's Bruce Ingersoll, "Pigpolitics became big politics."

In the two states where the hog factory came directly beforethe people, the verdict was unequivocal. In Colorado, Initiative14, which places hog factories under moderately severe regulation,was approved by over 60% of the electorate. South Dakota AmendmentE, which bans corporate farming in the state altogether, gained59% of the popular vote despite a massive infusion of corporatecash and opposition from the state's Republican governor.

Lauch Faircloth was defeated by JohnEdwards (D, NC). Faircloth, according to CounterPunch (November1-15, 1998) "was part owner of Coharie Farms, the 30th largesthog producer in the country. Faircloth owned more than $1 millionworth of stock in two slaughterhouses. In Congress he attendedto the interests of the pig men as chairman of the Senate Subcommitteeon Clean Water, Wetlands, Private Property and Nuclear Safety."Environmentalists and small farmers across the state worked hardto defeat Faircloth. The Sierra Club flooded the airwaves withads linking Faircloth to water pollution and pfiesteria.

 Progress or Retrogression? Above Left: A relaxed group of pigs photographed on a family farm, almost a hundred years ago. Above right: Sows in a present-day factory farm. They can't even turn around in their 22-inch-wide gestation stalls. They express their desperation by attacking the bars that imprison them.

In Iowa, where hog factories haveblighted northern counties and driven most of Iowa's traditionalhog farmers out of business, the hog issue played heavily in DemocratTom Vilsack's crushing upset of Republican gubernatorial candidateJim Lightfoot. In neighboring Minnesota, Reform Party candidate,Jessie "The Mind" Ventura's victory sent a seismic shockthrough the American political establishment. The governor-electsupports a temporary moratorium on new hog factories.

Factory farming was also a factorin the unexpectedly severe defeat of anti-environmentalist Republicancandidate Ellen Sauerbrey by Maryland's incumbent governor, ParrisGlendening. Glendening received high marks for his crackdown onMaryland's huge chicken farms following the 1997 pfiesteria outbreakin the Chesapeake Bay area. Environmental protection was a definingissue in the campaign.

Despite political setbacks, the industryblitzkrieg shows no sign of abating. With the producer price ofhogs as Iowa as 9 cents a pound – the same price it was inthe Depression Era – the last of America's family hog farmersare being driven from the business, while corporations are engagedin a brutal battle for control of the hog market. In the meantime,thousands of citizens, from the New Melloray Monastery in Iowato Owyhee County, Idaho, are threatened by the insensate drivefor more, and still more, hog factories.


Excerpts from the January 3, 1999
Washington Post
article by William Clairborne

"It's ironic when you think about our heritage in South Dakota, "said Johnson, 41, who took over the family farm when his father had a stroke in 1981. "'Our ancestors left the landlords and kings in Europe to come here for their economic freedom, and now we're making the big corporations the new feudal rulers ... Sometimes I think nobody is paying attention while the big corporations are just taking over the whole farm economy and destroying an American way of life. " [Charlie Johnson a farmer from Madison, South Dakota]

The article quotes another farmer:

"The feed comes from out of state, the hogs come from out of state and the hogs are shipped out of state for slaughter, " said Don Hoogestraat, who turned his third-generation family farm over to his son eight years ago. "That leaves us with nothing but the manure, and the farmer becomes a hired hand on his own farm. "

Hoogestmat, a former president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council who is now critical of the council support of corporate-backed farming, accused big hog-producers of engaging in "planned overproduction" to temporarily drive pork prices down and force more family farms into contract feeding agreements. Earlier this month the price of hogs dropped to a 27-year low of 15 cents a pound in Sioux Falls – half of what it costs to produce – and in some parts of the country prices have dropped to less than 10 cents a pound.

US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has announced a series of crisis measures, including a moratorium on government loans for new pork production plants. 

Animalsas Units of Production:
Industrial Agribusinessand Sentient Beings

By Ken Midkiff

Traditional farming operationstreated animals as individuals. A farmer knew the personalitiesof his milk cows as well as he did those of neighboring farmers.I knew which of my sows liked to have her back and ears scratched– and which one would try to viciously bite if I approached.When ewes rejected their lambs, we brought them into the houseand fed them from a bottle. As a small child, I knew which ofthe old roosters would attack me (some roosters are just damnedmean) and which could be carried around in my red wagon.

Somewhere between my childhood inthe 1940s and the 1970s, something went terribly wrong in foodproduction. Schools of agriculture and the USDA, taking theirmarching orders from agribusiness implement and chemical companiesstarted preaching the adoption of the Industrial Model. Get bigor get out. Volume of production is more important than quality.

A diversified, sustainable systemof integrated crops and animal production was abandoned in favorof monocultures. Farmers became specialists. Some grew only cornand soy beans. Others developed huge dairy or beef feedlot operations.This move had nothing at all to do with needing to feed the world,and everything to do with concentration of food production, andprofits, into the hands of a few large corporations. Market controlwas the goal. Not many more hogs or chickens are being grown todaythan in the past – only the methods have changed.

Poultry was the first to totallyconvert to the industrial model. Today there are almost no independentpoultry growers, all are either owned by or under contract withlarge corporations. The hog industry is going the same direction.

So what? Well, animals are now raisedin huge confinement structures, crammed in small pens or cages,given antibiotics to combat diseases (that can run rampant insuch stressful conditions). One conveyor brings in food, anothersystem transports out excrement. From a rather idyllic existenceon the family farm to a unit of production, packed in with thousandsof other units of production, animals are now treated as onlya product – much as any other industrial product. Just widgets.

Chickens raised for broilers for massconsumption are now grown in confinement structures that containup to 22,000 birds. Hatching to slaughter is only eight weeks.Those drumsticks at Kentucky Fried Chicken are from a two-monthold chicken. The methods of production are nasty, brutish, andshort.

Hogs are raised in arguably worseconditions. Mortality rates are very high. Sows in gestation stallsand farrowing crates cannot turn around. In the "finishinghouses" where pigs are fed from around 55 pounds to slaughtersize, there are from 1,200 to 2,500 hogs in a building. Emissionsof hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from excrement and urine are sostrong that large exhaust fans must run constantly to remove thetoxic gases from the houses. If the fans shut off for more than15 minutes, hogs begin succumbing to the gases.

In the heat of summer, the overcrowdedconditions in poultry operations lead to massive die-offs. Duringthe record breaking heat-wave last year in Texas, Oklahoma andArkansas, millions and millions of hens and broilers suffocatedin their packed cages. All the media focused on was the monetarylosses were to the owners and growers, not to the miserable deathsof millions of living creatures.

Chickens also suffer from the misfortunesof their owners or growers. In southwest Missouri, a bankruptpoultry house owner simply walked away and left 12,000 hens tostarve and die. Two years later, the skeletons of thousands ofhens remain packed in their little cages in a crumbling poultryhouse overgrown with weeds. A horror story in the best StephenKing tradition – and one that pretty much sums up industrial-strengthhog, chicken and egg production.

Ken Midkiff, formerly a hog farmer,now is the Director of the Missouri Sierra Club

ACall for Strong Enforcement of the Federal HumaneSlaughter Act

In 1958, following overwhelming publicsupport, the Humane Slaughter Act was adopted. In 1978, the FederalMeat Inspection Act was amended to empower USDA inspectors tostop the slaughter line on the spot if any cruelty is observed.Once the line has stopped, slaughter may not legally recommenceuntil deficiencies, whether of equipment, or of abuses by personnel,are corrected. Since that time the public has assumed that thelaw has been enforced. Gail Eisnitz' s 1997 book, Slaughterhouse(see AWI Quarterly Fall 1997), was a rude awakeningto the fact that deregulation had caused enormous speed-ups inthe slaughter line so that animals were no longer being slaughteredin conformity with the law. On the contrary, the book revealedthat fully conscious pigs and cows were being beaten, strangled,scalded, skinned and dismembered in the nation's slaughterhouses.

Two government reports, "Surveyof Stunning and Handling in Federally Inspected Beef, Veal, Pork,and Sheep Slaughter, Plants" January 7, 1997) and "SpecialSurvey on Humane Slaughter and Ante-Mortem Inspection" (March1998) provide further documentation of the failure of slaughterplants to handle and kill animals humanely. Many apparent violationsof federal law were found despite the fact that the these inspectionsof slaughter plants were announced in advance, providing ampleopportunity for plant managers to cover-up.

The 1997 report documented excessiveuse of electric prods, slippery floors and hazardous ramps, citing64% of the slaughter plants visited for ineffective use of captivebolt stunners to render animals unconscious and insensible. The1998 report noted that "it is considered inhumane to allowan animal to regain consciousness after the stunning procedure,so the bleeding should be done as quickly as possible after stunning."Yet, 57.6% of the plants permitted a lengthy period of time betweenstunning and bleeding. The report concludes that 28% of the plantsvisited have "serious problems." A detailed resolutioncalling for strong enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act waspresented to the United States Animal Health Association's AnimalWelfare Committee by AWI's Director Cathy Liss. The USAHA representsfederal and state regulatory veterinarians throughout the nationand has done so since its founding in 1897. Seeking to quash attentionto this issue, a representative of the Livestock Marketing Associationobjected to virtually all of the text claiming it could not besubstantiated. The industry representative even objected to textcited from the two government studies, claiming that these studies,too, could not be substantiated. In the interest of obtainingthe necessary votes to adopt a resolution in support of the HumaneSlaughter Act, a compromise version was agreed. The final resolution,which appears in the box, was adopted by the Animal Welfare Committeeof the USAHA. On the following day it was adopted by the fullboard of the Association.




(The mission of USAHA is to be a forum for communication and coordination among state and federal
governments, universities, industry and other groups on issues of animal health and disease control, animal welfare, food safety and public health.)

EUBans Sub-therapeutic Use of Drugs

As of January, four widely used growth-enhancingantibiotic drugs will be banned for use in the European Union.

Unlike therapeutic or medicinal drugs,sub-therapeutic drugs are not used to help a sick animal recover,but rather to induce rapid and unnatural growth or keep a stressedanimal from dying while in cruel factory farms. Up to 80 percentof all Europe's cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry are given sub-therapeuticantibiotics.

Britain, Sweden, Germany, and Franceled the campaign to exclude the use of the drugs as growth-enhancers.Three nations, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium abstained from thevote, arguing that the ban will push up the price of meat. Denmarkand Sweden already enforce a unilateral ban on sub-therapeuticdrugs.

Several large agencies, includingthe World Health Organization, The British House of Lords, andthe British National Consumer Council have spoken out againstsub-therapeutic drugs. The Soil Association, representing Britain'sorganic farmers, reports that the use of antibiotics had increasedby up to 150 times in the past 30 years. Their press release reads,"We must create a new climate in which animals are kept inmore natural, less stressful conditions and are routinely treatedwith respect, rather than antibiotics."


Controversy over the labelling of organicanimal products was resolved by a January 14, 1999 decision ofthe US Department of Agriculture. By early spring, stores willhave USDA certified products. The organic label means that animalshave not been confined to the dreadful factory farms wherethey are virtually immobilizedin tiny cages andstalls during their entire lives of painful imprisonment.Instead, the animals must have access to pasture, fresh air andsunshine and not be given growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics.

AWI Quarterly Fall/Winter1998-1999, Vol. 47/48, No. 4/1

Cow Rescue

A Cow Who Took Matters into HerOwn Hooves

Emily the cow was on her way to a slaughterhouse in Hopkinton,Massachusetts in November 1995, when she evidently decided shewould rather be free. The three-year-old, 1,400-pound holsteinheifer bravely leaped over a five-foot fence. For 40 days and40 nights following her daring escape, she managed to live inthe woods around the town, foraging for food and hobnobbing witha herd of deer.

As the escaped cow cleverly evaded capture, people began rootingfor her. Emily's partisans left out hay for her and shielded herwhereabouts from authorities and from the slaughterhouse's employees."Like some bovine pimpernel," reported People magazine,"she was sought everywhere but never captured."

Emily's story excited the interest of animal lovers Meg and LewisRanda, who have given many animals sanctuary at their Life ExperienceSchool, a school for children with special needs in Sherborn,Massachusetts. The A. Arena & Sons slaughterhouse ended upselling Emily to the Randas for $1, reasoning that the cow hadrun off much of her value.

Meg Randa, who took great care to assure Emily that she and herfamily were vegetarians, coaxed the elusive heifer into a trailerwith a bucket of feed. The Randas had their Christmas dinner outsidein the barn with Emily, who now lives, and serves as a teacher,at the Life Experience School.

This cow-rageous Holstein has become quite famous, as her storyhas appeared in countless newspaper and magazine articles, aswell as coverage by CBS and a forthcoming children's book. Thereare rumors of a film being planned, but Emily is keeping quietabout whether she is destined to become a ruminant movie star.

Emily has become something of a cult figure, as sympathizers havepledged in her presence to stop eating meat. She has also beenbovine-of-honor at a human wedding that took place in the Randas'barn.

AWI Quarterly Winter 1996, Vol. 45, No. 1, p. 12.

Birth Intervals in Cattle Raised for Meat: Belief and Fact

by Viktor and Annie Reinhardt

It is commonly believed that calves must be artificially weaned so thatthe cow gives birth at the most frequent possible intervals. We had theunique opportunity to question the justification of this belief by comparingthe reproductive performance of 18 cows who were allowed to raise theircalves beyond the age of natural weaning with the reproductive performanceof 96 other cows who were subjected to the traditional forced weaning managementsystem. Both categories of cows lived on the same ranch, in herds of approximately50 animals including two mature bulls per herd.

The calves of the "managed" cows were taken away from theirmothers at the age of about eight months and raised in separate groups.Shortly thereafter, the mothers were also removed from the original herdand re-grouped in other herds. These artificial disruptions of social relationshipswere extremely disturbing for the animals, and it took several days oreven weeks until they calmed down again and established new relationshipswith the members of the new groups.

The calves of the "semi-wild" cows were naturally weaned bytheir mothers: female calves at the age 7-12 months, male calves at theage of 9-14 months. The weaning did not impair in any way the affectionatebond between mother and calf. In fact, the mother-calf bond was the foundationof the herd's cohesive social structure (see photo).

The performance of cattle is usually assessed by calculating the timelapse between two births. This so-called calving interval averaged 388days in the semi-wild cows, versus 494 days in the managed cows.

The difference of 106 days was statistically significant, indicatingthat the performance was enhanced when the calves were allowed to staywith their mother rather than when they were artificially weaned by beingtaken away from the maternal herd.

The better performance of the semi-wild cows could not be attributedto different climatic or nutritional conditions. In contrast to the managedcows, however, the semi-wild cows lived in a stable social environment.It was probably this stability of the social environment that accountedfor the animals' better reproductive performance. Artificially breakingnot only the bond between mothers and their still nursing calves but alsofriendship relationships between the mothers and other herd members, apparently,constituted a severe stress situation for the managed cows which resultedin a depression of their reproduction.

The affectionate mother-calf bond
is the foundation of a cattle herd's
cohesive social structure. A study
by Viktor and Annie Reinhardt
suggests that the bond lasts for
life under natural conditions.
Here, cow Dora grooms her
eight-year old daughter Riese
while grandson Rick is taking
a nap. Photo by Viktor Reinhardt.

Our observations challenge the inertia of tradition, demonstrating thatreproduction of beef cattle is enhanced rather than reduced whencows are allowed to wean their calves at the biologically determined age.Interfering in biological processes may satisfy man's ambition to havecontrol over them, but this is bound to have unforeseen repercussions ifthe biological process is not properly understood. Interfering in the naturalweaning process of cattle not only inflicts avoidable emotional pain butit also unnecessarily diminishes the animal's natural reproductive potential.

AWI Quarterly Spring/Summer 1997, Volume 46, Numbers 2 &3

Merciless MRSA Strain Alive and Kicking

Disturbing evidence of a potential epidemic has been published in a study by University of Iowa College of Public Health researcher Tara Smith et al this January. The study was the first in the country to document animal-to-human transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant form of a common bacterium that causes deadly infections, though such research has previously been conducted in Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands.

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