Read the original article by Michele Payn at causematters.com here.
In a society where we embrace rodents as cartoon characters, give pigs a political voice, and fill advertisements with grinning cows, we seem to forget that animals do not have the same intelligence or abilities as humans. Animals’ lives deserve to be respected and valued—but they are not humans.
As such, animals have different housing needs. For example, I was feeling really guilty our dog couldn’t get inside during a particularly nasty January snowstorm, and that guilt overcame my ability to think. The wind chill was near zero, large quantities of snow were falling, and it was miserable to be outside. My worry was being fed by messages on Facebook about how important it is to bring your pets in during bad weather.
When I went out in the driving wind and snow to check on Astro and Sugar, intending to let them in the barn, I found them wrestling in the pasture as winter blew all around them. They were playing in the snow with joy! You see, Pyrenees were bred in the mountains of France. They were bred for cold weather. And they were perfectly happy with being outside in the snow and wind, even though it may seem cruel if you are not familiar with their breeding.
The same is true for farm animals; housing may seem cruel if taken out of context. Farmers know their animals firsthand, have studied the species’ breeding, understand the animal’s instincts, and work hard to provide the best conditions for a given animal.
For example, consider chickens. Isn’t it more natural for Henny Penny to be outside, pecking corn off the ground? It’s also natural for Henny Penny to freeze to death, eat trash, be killed by predators, and poop on her egg (increasing your risk for salmonella). And if Henny Penny gets mad or her fellow chicken is ill, she may decide to peck the other chicken to death.
As a result, most chickens live in a temperature-controlled barn in some sort of cage. Their eggs immediately leave the cage so there is little exposure to bacteria from manure. Today’s laying hens have constant access to food and water 24 hours a day, oblivious to the drama that surrounds them about housing. Critically thinking about housing instead of marketing labels would increase logic in the egg case and decrease food drama.