Friday, July 31, 2009

My Trip to the Stockyard

I have just finished an internship at Farm Sanctuary in Upstate New York. Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal sanctuary, focusing on education, outreach, legislation, and animal rescue. I have learned so much at Farm Sanctuary, and recommend it so strongly for anyone interested in animal rights.

One part of the internship was a trip to a stockyard auction. I'd like to tell you about my experience.

The stockyard was in Bath and was very small. Steers, pigs, lambs, and goats in holding stalls waiting, bleating, bellowing, and snorting, to be auctioned off. They paced the dirty stalls where they could barely turn around. They tried to push their ways through the wooden planks to be free. They cried. They literally cried. But that wasn't the worst part.

When we got there, they were about to auction off the veal calves. They were all kept in a very small pen. They were still wobbly--one could barely walk. Their wet umbilical cords still hung from their bellies. They cried and cried, like babies. Anxious, confused, stepping on each other, bellowing so so loudly. The worst part was bending over the stall to pet them, to try to offer them a small bit of comfort before they were either slaughtered or chained to veal crate later that day. When they saw fingers, they desperately began to suckle them. One followed me around, suckling desperately on my entire hand. Whether they were hungry or not is not the point--though very sad if they were--but they were seeking their mother's udder. Comfort. Affection. Far too young to be away from her.

Children beat the calves with canes. The older ones taught the younger ones (some so small they probably could not yet read) how to beat them to make them move. Baby cows flinched with fear and pain. They were smacked into the auction room, pushed around by a man to show the customers how well they can move. They would be sold and beat into another small pen. This went on for eternity.

Some calves were to be slaughtered that day for what is called "bob veal." This is low-quality veal that is not pale in flesh, but is very cheap to buy and produce. Other calves were to be chained to veal crates for 6 weeks, fed a liquid diet deficient in iron and protein to create pale, tender, anemic flesh, so desired by veal connoisseurs. These calves are weak with atrophied muscles, 6 weeks in the dark, alone, unable to even stand. Starving. Dying before being murdered. Babies.

This was a very small stockyard with small-town friendly farmers and Amish people. This is the BEST it's going to get. My heart won't even allow me to imagine what bigger, factory farmed veal operations looked like.

I'm having trouble shaking the feeling of baby cows suckling on my hand. Images of babies hitting babies with canes. Hearing the crying calves. Smelling the awful stench. Please don't drink milk.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Amy for bearing witness to this and writing about what you saw. That took courage! This is all so sickening. I've heard that the mothers sometimes bellow for days after their calves are removed. Those young kids like the ones you described are sucked into this world of cruelty and exploitation because it's the only thing they know. It's messed up.

    Most people don't realize that veal is a byproduct of dairy production, and that it simply wouldn't exist if people didn't drink cows milk. As they say, there is a little bit of veal in every glass of milk. Dairy is just an all around unnatural, manipulative, and inhumane product that causes just as much suffering and slaughter as meat.

    Thank you again, and know that your writing isn't in vain. We can and we WILL bring an end to this inhumanity!