20 years is way too long to phase out battery cages
You've probably heard by now that Canada’s egg farmers have announced a plan to phase out battery cages for egg-laying hens.
But a 20-year timeline?
Not so great — especially when you consider that, for instance, the European Union (EU) phased out battery cages in 2012, after introducing their plan to do so in 1999 (yes, almost two decades ago).
And consider too that faster than you can count ‘em, the world’s largest restaurant and food-service companies are adopting cage-free purchasing policies. To be clear, that’s cage-free, not ‘enriched’ cages. Enriched cages do not meet cage-free requirements. The headline in a recent Huff Post op-ed sums it up well: ‘There is a new normal in the egg industry, and it’s cage-free’.
And there are more companies getting on-board every month — for example, the recent commitments by Tim Hortons and Burger King to go cage-free by 2025, and the announcement that Jack Astor’s and Canyon Creek restaurants will serve cage-free eggs by September 2016 (yes, that’s 2016).
With all this in mind, it’s hard to take seriously comments by Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) such as “This isn’t something we’ve done because of companies making announcements — we always have in our mind what is best for our hens.” You can read EFC's full Feb 5th news release here.
The reality is that, as noted by the Toronto Star, “The life of 90 per cent of egg-laying hens in Canada is nasty, brutish and short.” And taking 20 years to phase out the nasty battery cages that are largely responsible for this is, according to the Star, “too little, too late”.
Make no mistake: CCFA applauds all efforts to improve the lives of animals raised for food — and we are thrilled at the advancements being made in farm animal welfare. But in the larger context of global progress and mounting consumer demand for more humane treatment of farmed animals, EFC’s 20-year timeline is simply way. Too. Long.
Taking better care of dairy calves
Industrial dairy farming is notoriously cruel to cows and calves. However, some European farmers are raising the bar when it comes to raising calves. In the Netherlands, one farmer
buys unwanted male jersey calves from an organic dairy farm and has his own cows nurse them. Cows are known for their strong maternal instinct, and readily welcome and care for the foster calves. The calves remain on the farm, grazing freely alongside the cows until two years of age, when they’re sent for slaughter.
In Sweden, meanwhile, a growing number of farmers are housing calves in pairs or groups (pictured here), rather than alone in hutches, as is typically the case on large dairy farms. As noted by Eyes on Animals, who shared these stores with us, “By having a social companion, the animals can learn to eat solid feed earlier. This results in a greater weight gain. Calves raised in pairs also have shown to better integrate into group housing after weaning, as their social behavior is better developed than the individually-housed calves.”
These progressive methods of farming tend to be practiced more in Europe than in North America — though there are some farms here, like this one in New York State
, that are making great strides in animal husbandry. These farmers recognize the inherent need in animals for maternal and social interaction — and bit by bit, they are helping to raise standards for dairy farming overall.
New veg milk causing quite a stir
It looks like cow’s milk, it’s creamy like cow’s milk, you can cook with it like cow’s milk — but it’s made of vegetables. And not soy, rice or almonds — but pea protein, potato, and cassava (a starchy plant originally from South America).
It was first introduced last fall in Canada by a B.C.-based company, Global Gardens Group, and it’s now making its way into the U.S. market. Consumers and investors alike are licking their lips.
“With the smoothness and creaminess of 2% dairy milk,” its website says, “Veggemo is rich in calcium, Vitamin D, and is an excellent source of B12.”
It’s also gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher — and, of course, kind to cows.
To learn more and find out where you can buy it, visit veggemo.com
Helping chickens goes high-fashion
Toronto Fashion Week takes place March 14 – 18, and CCFA is taking the opportunity to shine the spotlight on chicken welfare: we’re running our 30-second help-the-chickens ad in David Pecaut Square, the centre of TFW action. The ad will run periodically over a total of eight days on a centrally located monitor that will also feature various TFW events and highlights.
With its location in the heart of Toronto’s theatre district, and with last fall’s Fashion Week attracting 30,000 attendees, we’re hoping that in between catwalks, fashionistas will take a moment to focus on farm animal welfare.
Check it out if you get the chance — let us know what you think! firstname.lastname@example.org
Just 2 kids having fun
Toronto Animal Services recently contacted Wishing Well Sanctuary after a man brought in two baby goats who had wandered into his yard. Wishing Well agreed to foster the kids in the hopes someone might come forward and claim them. No one did. “The babies were very nervous,” says Wishing Well’s Brenda Bronfman, “particularly the black and white one that looks like patchwork. We have no information on them, but they wouldn't drink from a bottle so they were obviously weaned very early and couldn't have had much human contact.”
But that’s changed now. Brenda and her gang are giving them tons of TLC, and the kids are having loads of fun bouncing around (literally) outside. Pay them a visit at Wishing Well during one of the sanctuary’s regular tours or upcoming March Break programs — learn more at wishingwellsanctuary.org
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