For those who have never had the chance to pet a cow or see her of him run happily over a meadow, the following insights might seem a bit exaggerated. Once you get to learn more about these sentient beings you will hopefully never want to eat them (or even take away their milk). This is from the Farm Santuary’s blog:
“Cows have a secret mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships, and become excited over intellectual challenges…” — The Sunday Times (UK)
Goats are merry pranksters, chickens and turkeys are inquisitive and always exploring, pigs are the brains of the operation, and cattle are the farm’s deeply social and most contemplative residents.
Cows interact with one another in complex ways, forming collaborative relationships (for example, they form “grooming partnerships,” just like chimpanzees)1, learning from one another, and making decisions based on altruism and compassion2. Sunday Times science editor Jonathan Leake explains that “cows have a secret mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships, and become excited over intellectual challenges…”3
As a researcher at Moulton College in the UK, Krista McLennan has documented the fact that cattle form deep friendships and strong family bonds. Like humans, when cattle “have their preferred partner with them, their stress levels in terms of their heart rates are reduced compared with if they are with a random individual.”4
Because of their complex social lives, they are also quite intelligent. Professor Donald Broom from Cambridge University explains: “[S]ocial animals such as cattle…need substantial intellectual ability in order to cope with their complex social life.”5 As another indication of their intelligence, cows have great memories. Professor Joe Stookey from the University of Saskatchewan explains that cattle “demonstrate good spatial memory (they remember where things are located). … They can remember migration routes, watering holes, shelter, and the location of their newborn calf.”6 Other researchers report that cows remember the best spots in a pasture for grazing.7
They are also good problem solvers. Professor Broom explains that when cows solve problems, “[t]heir brainwaves showed their excitement; their heartbeat went up, and some even jumped into the air. We called it their Eureka moment.”8 Explains Guardian science reporter Laura Spinney, “The evidence that they are capable of learning associations suggests brains that are…aware of what has happened in the past and of acting on it in the future.”9
Tim Sell, chair of the UK’s National Farmers Union explains: “They are all individuals and all have their own characteristics. They are tremendously curious. They have emotional storms. When it is a miserable, cold day, they will all be miserable, but when it is nice and sunny, you can almost see them smiling.”10
Dr. John Webster echoes Sell’s comments: “You only have to watch how cows and lambs both seek and enjoy pleasure when they lie with their heads raised to the sun on a perfect English summer’s day. Just like humans.”11 And, as Dr. Temple Grandin explains, “When big old huge dairy cows are let out in the spring, after spending the whole winter cooped up in the barn, man, they just jump around all over the fields like little calves. It’s the same feeling young animals have when they play.”12
Meet Cinci and Sonny
Farm Sanctuary’s Susie Coston reflects: “Cinci holds a special place in our hearts here at Farm Sanctuary. She leapt a six-foot fence at a slaughterhouse near Cincinnati (hence her name) and hid out in a park for 10 days before she was finally caught by the local SPCA. As you can imagine, she was incredible and very smart. Farmers said she was dangerous — that she was probably culled from a breeding herd because she was nuts, and she would likely kill someone, but she was nothing but respectful to us.
Well, except this one time. We were attempting to have her hooves trimmed with the other cattle. The trimmer came with his chute and set up. We got to Cinnci, and she slammed the trimmer to the ground, turned, and took out two gates and a slider door in a matter of about 30 seconds. Then she jumped the fence. When the trimmer drove away, she returned to the herd. From that point on, when she heard his truck — which clanks with metal — she would jump the fences and stay far away until he left, and then she would again return to the herd.
Her death was also incredible — there was a huge respect for her in the herd and also an obvious awareness of her fear of people and their protectiveness of her during her final month or so. I really miss her so much.”
Sonny is a male calf who was born into the dairy industry. His owner brought him to the stockyard as a weak and injured newborn for a quick sale for veal or cheap beef. Today, Sonny is a rambunctious boy. He’s playful, confident, and maybe just a little bit spoiled from the round-the-clock care he received from Farm Sanctuary caregivers after his rescue. He was found just after his birth in a filthy stall, too weak to stand, his umbilical cord torn from his belly leaving a badly infected wound. Sonny never knew his mother or nursed from her, so he lacked the rich colostrum that was critical for his health and immunity. But with bottle-feeding, blood transfusions, and lots and lots of attention, the baby boy has grown into an irrepressible youngster.
You’ll usually find him looking for fun — or trouble — with his buddies, Conrad and Orlando. In the early morning, the boys moo and protest until someone finally comes with their food. Sonny checks in with his pig friends, Sebastian and Eric, only to be nipped on the nose. He tests the gates, hoping for a chance to sneak into places he shouldn’t be, then settles in for a day of fun with Conrad and Orlando. These overgrown boys spend their days together playing, complaining, napping, and playing some more. Always curious and ever testing his limits, Sonny finds a visitor’s camera bag and tosses it in the air and generally makes a nuisance of himself until one of his beloved caretakers relents and gives him a good old scratch on the neck. He still struggles with minor health issues from his rough start, but that doesn’t stop this boy from kicking up his heels in pure delight.
These new rules are not perfect for the animals, but one step closer to a better life for animals living in India. PeTA India published this positive information:
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released three new Gazette notifications under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to regulate dog breeders , animal markets, aquariums, and pet shops that sell fish. This progress has included a joint effort by animal protection groups including PETA India. PETA India was involved in the public consultation process for these rules and had provided useful comment to strengthen protections.
In a perfect world, laws to protect animals would eliminate all cruelty, because dogs shouldn’t be bred and sold, cattle and other animals shouldn’t be sent to slaughter, and fish shouldn’t be kept in tanks. But sometimes change occurs in stages, and for now, the government has passed certain additional protections for dogs and fish as well as for cows, buffaloes, camels, and other animals who end up at animal markets. We also commend the government for helping remove animals from abusers through the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017.
Some points to be noted include the following:
• The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 says, “If the accused is convicted, or pleads guilty, the magistrate shall deprive him of the ownership of animal and forfeit the seized animal to the infirmary, pinjrapole, SPCA, Animal Welfare Organisation or Gaushala already having custody for proper adoption or other disposition.”
• According to these new rules, dog breeders and owners of aquariums and pet shops that sell fish must register with the animal-welfare board of their respective states.
• No aquarium can keep, house, or display “any cetaceans, penguins, otters, manatees, sea turtles and marine turtles, artificially coloured fish, any species of fish tank animals listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972), or any species listed under the Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species”.
• The sale of camels and all types of cattle, including buffaloes, for slaughter via animal markets isn’t allowed. The sale of cattle and camels can be made only to a person who carries valid documents proving that he or she is an “agriculturist”.
• Certain types of cruelty that commonly take place at markets will no longer be allowed, including hot branding and cold branding, mutilating animals’ ears, and force-feeding animals fluid to make them appear fatter in order to fetch a better price.
Unfortunately, the new rules don’t prevent the dairy industry from continuing to supply animals to the beef industry. India’s beef industry is massive because its supplier, the dairy industry, is massive. Read more about the link between beef and dairy foods here.
Whoever is concerned about animal welfare is often overwhelmed by the many causes being addressed asking for support, mostly by asking for donations.
There is a study by the Animal Charity Evaluators which evaluates where the most animals are being harmed and which causes make the most difference if successfully implemented. Not surprisingly, the gruesome fact is that factory farming leads to the highest numbers of animals killed. If it were possible to eradicate these murder machines billions of lives could be saved. Investing in causes linked to the end of these man-made hells would save more lives than with any other cause.
The study is not about the quality of life for sentient beings, but only about the quantity of animals in need.
If you ever have attended a western-style barbecue you will most certainly have seen a pig being roasted over a fire. And if you have traveled through some parts of Asia you might have come across a dog on a spike being roasted over a fire pit.
If you go shopping through almost any super market in the western hemisphere you will come across rows and rows of products made from animals such as pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and maybe some rabbits, too. They will hardly ever still be recognizable as coming from any of these beings, because how would you cook a whole cow? Even a rabbit still wearing her fur coat seems to be unappealing to the appetite of someone who would most happily chew on a part of her. There also might be different varieties of animals from the sea, some fish will be lying on ice, others have been cut into smaller pieces so that you no longer know who was chopped up into easily cookable portions. And you might see tanks with live animals like lobsters and other sea creatures.
In many Asian markets and food stores, you will see a different variety of foods, including different animals displayed either in bits and pieces or as a whole for human consumption. If you have ever walked over a farmer’s market in different parts of the world you will certainly have come across whole chickens hanging – either still alive or having been killed recently – from wooden beams. There will be goats and sheep cut open, their intestines removed, but otherwise still easily recognizable as the animals that would have walked to the market with the farmer. There will be cages with chickens, birds, and, depending where in the world you are, maybe with monkeys, maybe with dogs.
More and more stories have come up recently showing us pictures of dog farms in Korea. And of these farms being raided by animal rights organizations, taking the dogs and rescuing them from being slaughtered for human consumption. What would a farmer in Iowa, North Carolina, Germany, China, or Russia say, if a group of people would rescue their pigs and cows from the slaughterhouse? If this group of people would say that the way they have been treating these animals in their care is inhumane and therefore these beings need to be rescued? If these people would say that it is inhumane to eat such a being because it is a sentient being?
Humane education is one of the most important parts in raising awareness, in leading a path away from inhumane traditions, in bringing insight into the plight of millions of animals. Pointing with fingers at those who do something differently will probably not lead to a change of thinking. But giving someone the possibility to look at the picture from another angle, and giving someone the chance to decide on their own how to change their ways will most likely lead to a willful readiness in change. And this will not only save those sentient beings stuck in that cage in this moment but to less cages in the future.