Friday, November 20, 2009

Researching Animal Welfare

Researchers ask: Are caged chickens miserable?
'Researchers ask: Are caged chickens miserable?';
By MICHAEL J. CRUMB Associated Press Writer
Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:11 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:11 a.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Are cramped chickens crazy chickens?

Researchers are trying to answer that question through several studies that intend to take emotions out of an angry debate between animal welfare groups and producers.

At issue are small cages, typically 24 inches wide by 25 1/2 inches deep, that can be shared by up to nine hens. About 96 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from hens who live in the so-called battery cages from the day they're born until their egg-laying days end 18 to 24 months later.

Public opinion appears to side with those who oppose the cages. Voters in California approved a proposition last year that bans cramped cages for hens. And Michigan's governor signed legislation last month requiring confined animals to have enough room to turn around and fully extend their limbs.

But even as Skewes and others conduct research, some question the need to study an issue they argue was resolved long ago.

Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said banning the cages is a solution to an obvious problem.

"Think about the ... effects of not moving for up to 24 months," Friedrich said. "Their bones and muscles waste away and they go insane."

Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States' Factory Farming Campaign, agreed.

"The egg industry is trying to muddy the waters by misleading people into believing that it's possible to confine birds in barren, tiny cages and have high welfare," he said. Read More

It seems that this article really shows the true colors of those of us in agriculture and those that are pushing an animal rights agenda. I have never heard anyone in agriculture speak against research that might further our knowledge of animal care like they are hoping to accomplish with this study. The HSUS and PETA, on the other hand, are upset that this study is going to be done. It’s disappointing, but not surprising that these animal rights groups aren’t interested in it.

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