Friday, November 6, 2009

Another TV Tackle on Animal Welfare

I admit, I do love certain shows, and as my husband will attest some will draw me in and won't let go until the final credits roll. But sometimes I am intrigued by other parts of the show. A while back Numb3rs covered animal rights and a university setting, this time it is Bones dealing with animal rights and animal welfare at a broiler 'farm' and the spin-off of cute pig faces. The show handled as many angles as they could with their usual science, caring and humorous ways.

The reason I am blogging about this episode is to talk about how I felt regarding their key messages and the points they put forward - which, by the way, I thought was brilliantly done - regarding the changing face of agriculture, the onward march of urban into rural areas and the changing views we have about animals and how they are cared for or used and how our perceptions can become our reality. If you have not watched it and are going to I won't give anything away like a spoiler. If you farm, if you care about animals this is one episode to watch - if for nothing else to see how our 'reality' is seen in a 'fictional' world.

Some questions asked, and perhaps fictionally answered but also posing real world questions included: long term exposure to confinement housing without proper PPE (personal protective equipment), how communities change when a farm becomes more urban than rural and is surrounded by other urban dwellers, how technology can remove the animal and our humane reaction to them through 'assembly line' processes, how people can work at a job or in a place which does not match their social, emotional and spiritual needs because it satisfies (even marginally) and economic or foundational need.

The questions raised by the lengths to which people will go to make a point and how far does that point go after you've made it. It also questions the 'face of food' and the 'face of farming' issues that we face in all sectors from farmers to processors to consumers.

I found it very heartening that the questions were raised, the issues were posed and the responses were not 'global' messages but became personal and interpersonal responses. What we believe and what we choose to act upon are personal choices based upon our beliefs whether they be science, emotional or socially based. The fact that people can come from different places and find common ground is the basis for all movement and growth forward. How fundamental is that?

I don't have to agree with the practices of 'modern' dairy, hog or poultry production. I can ask, and reasonably expect, that the standards for welfare will continue to be improved upon and that our concern for animals will continue to grow as our knowledge and understanding of their needs and our wants can come together.

I, as a consumer, can speak with my buying choices. I, as a voter, can speak with my election choices. I, as a farmer, can choose to promote and advocate for the highest standards I am able to achieve. I, as a person, can be empathetic, and understanding of people who do not feel the same way as I do. I can hope, as a person, to be treated with the same respect in return.


  1. You can view thw episode at

    And the idea of empathy for urban consumers is critical. Most people are so disconnected from agriculture that their framework for discussing animal well-being seems foreign to anyone involved in livestock production. Buit the discussion nevertheless needs to take place within thaty framework, otherwise the anti-industry activists automatically win by default.

  2. Thanks Dan excellent point, and thanks for posting the link too!