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Animals – campaign for compassion

Submitted by Susan Tomlinson on November 23, 2011 – 7:04 am 4 Comments


There’s been a lot of talk lately about the way we treat animals. Campaigners say we’re so disconnected from our food chain we’re treating animals like machines living on factory farms.

But if enough of us support the work of these campaigners and begin to re-assess our own eating – and buying habits – we can make big changes. Debate Your Plate has gathered together a handful of the top campaigns for treating animals with the respect they deserve.

Compassion in world farmingSay no to the UK’s first super-dairy.

When it comes to farming, (and all sorts of other things too!) where the US goes – the UK appears to follow. And so it is with dairy farming. Lincolnshire could soon be the location of the UK’s first industrial “super dairy”, where 8000 cows would rarely ever see a blade of grass. According to Compassion in World Farming, a representative from Nocton Dairies, said in an interview with the BBC Radio that “cows do not belong in fields.”

Nocton Dairies have already bought the land ready for development but have temporarily withdrawn their application from the council in order to improve environmental concerns. However, Compassion in World Farming are convinced they will try to continue with their plans. Join the Compassion in World Farming campaign.

Compassion in World Farming writes...

In 1967, dairy farmer, Peter Roberts founded Compassion in World Farming in response to the wide-scale emergence of factory farming. In Lincolnshire in 2010, his rallying cry against the unnatural confinement and suffering of farm animals is needed more than ever.

The proposed construction of the UK’s largest dairy farm poses a giant threat to animal welfare and all those who believe that humane and sustainable farming is the only viable way to feed our planet.

The plans have given rise to widespread objections by local residents, politicians and animal welfare organisations. Over 172 Members of Parliament signed a House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM 1037) opposing the ‘super dairy’ and echoing the concerns of local residents. Compassion in World Farming submitted its own planning objection to the scheme.

We are gearing up for a long battle. Because, whatever decision the local council eventually makes about Nocton Dairies, there will be much to do. The farm’s backers seem determined to introduce a US-style intensive dairy system to the UK, and others will no doubt follow in their wake. We are absolutely determined that this should never happen.

Nocton Dairies have temporarily withdrawn their application following a meeting of the District Council Planning Department. The applicants were told they needed to consider how to improve concerns over environmental controls and highways issues.

The campaign is far from over. The applicants have already bought the land for their industrial-scale dairy, and they are not simply going to walk away. We expect them to submit revised proposals shortly, and we must be there to fight this factory farm every step of the way. Discussions on a new timescale are ongoing, and we will update you on new developments as they happen. Help us prepare for a long fight.

Free the chook!

Chicken Out!Gone are the days when eating chicken was a real treat. Now we can afford to eat it whenever we like. According to the Chicken Out! campaign, we Brits eat an average of 2 kgs of chicken a month. But this cheap chook comes with a hidden cost. Chickens grown intensively probably never see the light of day and are housed in enormous sheds with little room to move. They are forced to grow unnaturally quickly and suffer painful leg disorders, meaning they have difficulty standing up, may have breathing difficulties, ammonia burns and often have lung or heart failure. This campaign launched by chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, demands a higher welfare for chickens and an end to factory farming. Join the Chicken Out! campaign.

Chicken Out! writes…

Around 90% of UK chickens are reared for meat in standard intensive systems. This chicken is usually the cheapest on the supermarket shelf and the meat found in most sandwiches and restaurant meals.Through the Chicken Out! campaign, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Compassion in World Farming are reaching out to consumers, politicians, producers and retailers to put an end to the intensive ‘factory’ farming of chickens.

Labelling can be very misleading and phrases such as ‘farm fresh’ and ‘farm assured’ do not always represent higher welfare systems. Unless the label states free-range, organic or RSPCA Freedom Food, the chicken you’re buying has probably been reared in intensive conditions. Beware of labels like Red Tractor or ‘farm assured’ – they can all be found on standard intensive chicken.We want clear information on the packaging of the chicken meat so you can make the best, informed choice.

We want the government to take the welfare of chickens seriously by introducing legislation that meets the behavioural needs of the millions of chickens. Already over 270 MPs have signed a Parliamentary motion calling for improved welfare standards and clear labelling of chicken meat.

Better living conditions for this little piggy.


From Wilbur in Charlotte’s web to the much loved Miss Piggy, most of us have a bit of a soft spot for the pink, furry animal. Pigs will often outperform dogs in intelligence tests too. And yet across Europe, pigs are all too often housed in fairly shocking conditions.

Despite a strong behavioural desire to root around the earth on the look out for food, they are often housed indoors on cold concrete or wooden slatted floors. Although banned in the UK, in Europe, pigs are housed in sow stalls, meaning they’re so tightly fenced in, they cannot even turn around or take more than a few steps forwards or backwards. According to the RSPCA, this lack of welfare means the pigs suffer mental and physical stress, illustrated by behavioural problems like tail biting. And so, piggy tails are often docked to avoid this, along with teeth clipping,ring nosing and castration without an anaesthetic in the first week of life.

The RSPCA is calling for better living conditions and more respect for these highly intelligent animals. Join their Rooting for Pigs campaign.

The RSPCA writes…

Around half of the meat consumed in the world is pork, with over 150 million pigs reared each year in the European Union for meat. In the UK, around nine million pigs are slaughtered annually, whilst there are approximately 450,000 breeding pigs (sows, gilts and boars).  Through our Rooting for Pigs campaign, we are currently working hard to achieve:

  • a better law to protect pig welfare
  • improved pig meat labelling to allow consumers to make more informed choices. We encourage pig producers to adopt our RSPCA welfare standards for pigs, as used in the Freedom Food scheme, which have been developed to ensure that higher standards of animal welfare are met at all stages of the animals’ lives.

We’re calling for:

  • Greater space allowances per pig
  • Compulsory provision of bedding
  • Provision of adequate quantities of appropriate material for environmental enrichment
  • A ban on castration without anaesthetic
  • For all other mutilations (tail docking, teeth clipping and nose ringing) only to be carried out when there are welfare-related reasons for doing so
  • A gradual phase out of close confinement at farrowing

Save the honey bee.

Soil Assoc

One in every three mouthfuls we eat is from the hard working honey bee. Researchers reckon they work so hard, it would take an equivalent work force of 30 million people to carry out the work they do. But bees are dying of a shocking disease that nobody really understands. Colony Collapse Disorder is killing off bees across the world and many people believe the disease is caused by newly developed pesticides called neonicotinoids. The Soil Association being one such group, is calling for the UK government to ban the chemicals. Support the Soil Association’s campaign.

The Soil Association writes…

A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK.

Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive.

It seems bees genetic make up makes them particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. Recent mapping of the bee genome has revealed that bees’ capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects.

Honey bees live and work as a colony, not as individuals; what seems to be happening is that the cumulative impact of small doses of nenoicotinoids on thousands of bees over time is affecting individual bee’s ability to work and communicate effectively as part of a colony. Because lots of bees in each colony are behaving sub-optimally this can lead to the sudden, and devastating, outcomes that we’ve been witnessing in recent years.

The Soil Association believes that there is already enough evidence to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids today. Lend your voice to our calls to get these pesticides banned by signing our petition today.

Photo: Thanks to Suzettesuzette on Flickr.

Find out more


Debate Your Plate Food File on bees and Colony Collapse Disorder.


Interview with natural bee-keeper on Debate Your Plate TV. (ADD LINK!)

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