Renowned animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin recently spoke with Future Food 2050 about the crucial need to reform several aspects of large-scale livestock farming, primarily the industry’s focus on breeding towards maximum production.
“When you over-select for single traits, you ruin animals,” Grandin told Future Food 2050.
“Laying hens are suffering from osteoporosis and fractures of the keel bone, which is a big bone in the bird’s breast. Hens are pushed so hard biologically to produce eggs that all the hard stuff [calcium and minerals] is being removed from their bones.”
The subsequent “biological system overload,” as Grandin identifies it, can not only alter an animal’s reproduction rates, but also overrun their immune systems. “We need animals to be hardy, and you have to give up a little bit of productivity to get hardiness,” said Grandin.
The most important of these changes, according to Grandin, is to apply the knowledge that already exists:
“We do have to give animals a life worth living. Right now, animals are in pain. We know how to do things differently, like weaning and vaccinating cattle before they’re shipped to feedlots, but economics make people do the wrong thing.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.