In the recent past, there has been a stark rise in animal rights activism from advocates of animal liberation. Animal rights activism can take the shape of organizations with the sole purpose of pushing their progressive agenda. One such organization is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has more than two million supporters and members worldwide. A particular area of concern for PETA is the relationship that exists between cattle feed and the treatment of animals. PETA’s stance is that rearing cattle for food often requires massive amounts of feed that often leads to immense animal suffering. The purpose of this essay is to prove that there is a relationship between cattle feed and the treatment of animals in the United States.
The harsh treatment of cattle starts from the ranches where they are subject to painful branding (often leaving them with third-degree burns) with the provision of poor veterinary services. After roughly a year of experiencing these brutal extremes, shipping to auction lots occurs with the animals subsequently sent miles away to feedlots that become their new homes. The cattle held in these feedlots are typically fed a largely unnatural diet of corn and grain with the sole aim of fattening the (Newkirk 23). As a result, the food may cause the animal’s stomach to bloat, impairing normal breathing from lung compression. Additionally, the animals suffer from severe acidity in their stomachs that cause the development of ulcers leading to acute acidosis and causing unimaginable suffering to the animals.
It is common for feedlot managers to administer an assortment of pharmaceuticals in an attempt to obtain optimum cattle weight gain in minimum time. These pharmaceuticals include feeding additives and growth-stimulating hormones such as anabolic minimum which seeps into the animal’s bloodstream hiking hormone levels. Furthermore, there are numerous reports of cattle that are given testosterone, progesterone, estradiol and antibiotics that meant to increase their rate of growth while keeping them alive in these deplorable conditions. Growth hormones are responsible for the rapid stimulation of cells to synthesize the production of additional protein, muscle, and fat tissue. Anabolic steroids, in particular, are said to improve cattle weight gain by about 5 to 20 %, their feed efficiency by 6 to 12 % with the growth of lean meat at 15 to 25 %(Dispute Settlement Reports 2008: Vol. 16 p. 6187). A shocking fact is that over 95% feedlots in the United States are currently administering these growth-promoting hormones to the cattle they raise.
Animal activists hold the opinion that denying basic needs to sentient creatures, for instance, by exposing them to pain, purely on them being non-human and from a different species is discrimination akin racism or sexism (Small, et al. 45). Many experts also argue that this problem has its roots in the incongruity found in late capitalism; the urge to accumulate capital under adverse conditions of high levels of competition in an environment with a decrease in the availability of land and water.
The application of all manners of technological fixes ae meant to reduce expense and the time it would take to get these products to the consumers. Activists who speak out against the appalling treatment of cattle often end up being slapped with lawsuits by wealthy ranchers in a bid to silence them. Such was the case when a group of ranchers sued Howard Lyman and Oprah Winfrey (Texas Beef Group v. Winfrey 201F.3D C.A.5 Tex. 2000) for “falsely” depicting the beef in America as unsafe, a violation of the 1995 Texas False Disparagement of Perishable Food Products Act. The lawsuit was an example of a modern day suppression of free speech which also brought to national light pertinent issues concerning animal rights and the suffering that they undergo for the sole benefit of the insatiable ranchers.