|Copyright: The Dairy Education Board|
Sunday, August 15, 1999
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE UDDERS?
I woke up in the middle of the night after dreaming about cows dangling from ropes tied around their hind legs. The animals moved slowly down the line, twitching as the life ebbed out of their bodies, blood spurting from gashes in their necks delivered moments earlier by a man wearing a bloodstained smock.
Occasionally, there would be an animal, still alive, mooing loudly and shaking spasmodically, seeking a way to escape. In my dream, one animal made eye contact with me, her eyes bulging, wild with pain and fear.
Once awake, I envisioned their enormous udders, some still filled with milk. White creamy discharges mix with dark red blood and feces, dripping from lifeless carcasses to the concrete floor. I imagine the smell of the slaughterhouse. A thought comes into my mind. What happens to the flesh on their faces, cheeks, lips, and eye sockets? What happens to the anus? What happens to the udder? Do these body parts become a cruel joke for Ronald MacDonald? Do you really "deserve a break today" or desire to "have it your way?"
Last weekend I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. At the time of my visit I was reading Gail Eisnitz's remarkable book, SLAUGHTERHOUSE.
I petted the animals at Farm Sanctuary, Holstein cows, goats, and hogs, and, at the same time, was reading truths about how pigs met their death.
Gail Eisnitz writes:
"These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water, and just start screaming and kicking. I'm not sure whether the hogs burn to death before drowning. The water is 140 degrees. I do not believe the hogs go into shock, because it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing. I think they die slowly from drowning."
After a few well-placed phone calls, I connected with Gail at her Montana home.
"What happens to the udders?" I asked.
Gail related to me a dairy cow's last moments. I had also read the gruesome details in her book.
"When a conscious cow arrives at the first hind-legger, usually the legger tries to make a cut to start skinning out the leg. Unfortunately, it is very difficult and dangerous to do that when an animal is kicking violently. So the legger will cut off the bottom part of the animal's leg he's working on with a pair of clippers."
Her book does a remarkable job of exposing the cruelty applied to 8 billion farm animals each year. Each one dies a painful death. Killers become so used to the act of killing that these animals are treated with great disdain. Sometimes they are brutally tortured before and during death.
Would we eat their bodies if we could witness their suffering? That was a question I asked myself as I walked through a supermarket this very morning. I have tried unsuccessfully to read excerpts of "SLAUGHTERHOUSE" to my children. This book reads a little differently than "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss. Americans may not want to read this book. Deaf, dumb, mute, and blind.
Gail's agenda involves much more than compassion to animals. She exposes unsanitary slaughterhouse conditions and practices. By eating such renderings, one shows little compassion to one's own body.
"Federal records show that major meat packers smoked rancid meat to cover foul odor, or marinated it to disguise slime and smell... Chickens and hams were soaked in chlorine baths to remove slime and odor, and red dye was added to beef to make it appear fresh. Plant managers repeatedly fought to allow 'some contamination' such as feces, grease, hydraulic oil, maggots, metal, floor residue and rancid meat..."
Gail paraphrased the well-publicized dairy industry campaign with her own question.
"Got pet food?"
"You mean, those little cans of dog and cat food contain minced udders?" I asked?
Occasionally, I find myself situated behind little old ladies at
supermarket checkout counters. They often spend more money on tiny tins
of cat food then they do on their own groceries. The cans read, "100%
beef." If only they knew this dirty little secret.
Eisnitz begins Chapter Thirteen with a quote from David Carney, a USDA meat inspector.
"We used to trim the shit off the meat.
If you eat chicken, you might want to skip the next paragraph. If you buy and prepare chicken for your family, you cannot afford not to read what follows.
"Today, thanks to automation in the industry, individual poultry plants... can kill and process as many as 340,000 birds per day.
Since it's easier to bleed a bird that isn't flapping and struggling, most live birds have their heads dragged through an electrically charged water bath to paralyze - not stun - them. Other industrialized nations require that chickens be rendered unconscious or killed prior to bleeding and scalding so they won't have to go through the process conscious. Here in the United States, however, poultry plants... keep the stunning current down to about one-tenth of that needed to render a chicken unconscious.
A conveyor then carries the shocked and paralyzed birds to a high-speed circular blade meant to slit their throats but which occasionally misses birds as they rush past at the rate of thousands per hour.
After their heads and feet are removed and they've been washed (and feathered), the chickens are re-hung on an evisceration line. There, machines automatically cut them open and pull their guts out.
In the scald tank, fecal contamination on skin and feathers gets inhaled by live birds, and hot water opens bird's pores allowing pathogens to seep in. The pounding action of the de-feathering machines creates an aerosol of feces-contaminated water which is then beaten into the birds. Contamination also occurs when the birds have their intestines removed by automatic eviscerating machines. These high-speed machines commonly rip open intestines, spilling feces into the bird's body cavities.
Rinsing a chicken 40 times does not remove all of the bacteria.
Water in chill tanks has been aptly named 'fecal soup' for all the filth and bacteria floating around. By immersing clean, healthy birds in the same tank with dirty ones, you're practically assuring cross-contamination. Chickens that bathe together get contaminated together."
Gail finishes the chapter by quoting Gerald Kuester of USDA:
"There are about 50 points during processing where cross-contamination can occur. At the end of the line, the birds are no cleaner than if they had been dipped in a toilet."
Out of sight, out of mind. If only every American could just see what goes on in a slaughterhouse. That's now possible by reading Eisnitz's book.
What drips down a cow's leg while it's being milked? Feces, mucous, blood, bacteria. A filter is used to remove those impurities before the milk enters the bulk holding tank. Drink that milk and devour the glorious essence of bovine excrement.
Eat their flesh and you consume those diseased animals that no longer produce enough milk to guarantee a profit to the dairyman. When cows are diseased, with cancer or paratuberculosis, leukemia or other sicknesses, that's when they are sent to their final fate. Your dinner plate.
Gail Eisnitz is an investigator for the Humane Farm Association.
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