Speaking Up for Chickens at the Market Days Festival

Winner of the Ninja Air fryer

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the Ninja Air Fryer and accompanying plant-based air fryer cookbook. Our lucky winner was Jesse Cote!

New Hampshire Animal Rights League is pleased to share the news of our successful outreach efforts at the Market Days Festival in downtown Concord, NH. 

During this three-day event (June 23- 25), we spread the word about the work we do for animals and answered the question: What’s Wrong with Eating Eggs?

Visitors to our booth learned that there is a great deal of suffering and death involved  in the production of eggs. Whether raising caged or free-range chickens, it is standard practice in the egg industry to:

  • Obtain hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth. (All American hatcheries kill male chicks.)
  • Cut or burn off hens’ sensitive beaks to minimize how much they can damage themselves and others.
  • Crowd “free-range” hens so densely most never find their way outside.
  • Send hens to slaughter when their egg production decreases and the shells thin, around age 7-12 months.

Eye-Opening Video

We enticed approximately 200 people to watch the following 1-minute video from Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur answering the question, “What’s Wrong with Eggs?

Those who watched the video received a free can of vegan cold brew coffee from RISE Brewing Co. along with some conversation about what they had seen.

“Male” Chick Toys

We gave out “male” chick toys to draw people in so we could tell them what happens to the male chicks at the hatcheries that supply hens to egg farms as well as backyard chicken keepers.

 

On the tag, we wrote, “I lived only hours, because I was male — I had no worth, since I would never lay eggs.”

We included a QR code (with warning label) that opens a video of chicks being dumped into a macerator.

Goodie Bags

We handed out close to 200 “goodie” bags containing vegan literature (sampling below), vegan protein cookies from Munk Pack, and meatless jerky from Primal Spirit Foods.

Brochure

We showed visitors some of our favorite egg substitutes and handed out a brochure with more information.

The future is vegan

While much of the food at the festival was not vegan, encouragingly many vendors did offer a vegan option. Deadproof Pizza jokingly called theirs the “Obligatory Vegan Item.”

Free advertising space

On the backside of our tent, we displayed a heartbreaking illustration of speciesism drawn by friend of NHARL Holley Ackerson.

Thank you

Thank you to all our supporters and to everyone who stopped by to learn what’s wrong with eating eggs.

We hope to see you again next year!

Successful Outreach at NH SPCA PAWS Walk

New Hampshire Animal Rights League was on site at the NH SPCA’s annual PAWS Walk Fundraiser to answer the question: “What’s Wrong with Eating Eggs?”

Chickens make wonderful companions, and we encourage adopting birds from an animal shelter, such as the NH SPCA. But there are a number of problems with keeping chickens for the purpose of eating their eggs.

We explained to visitors that there is a great deal of suffering and death involved in producing eggs — even those from “free-range” farms, which are increasingly becoming the target of law suits for deceptive marketing.

Whether raising caged or free-range chickens, it is standard practice in the egg industry to:
  • Obtain hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth. (All American hatcheries kill male chicks.)
  • Cut or burn off hens’ sensitive beaks to minimize how much they can damage themselves and others.
  • Crowd “free-range” hens so densely most never find their way outside.
  • Send hens to slaughter when their egg production decreases and the shells thin, around age 7-12 months.
We showed visitors some of our favorite egg substitutes, gave away samples of Black Salt (Kala Namak), which can be used to add an “eggy” flavor to dishes, and handed out a brochure with more information, along with vegan starter kits.

Overall, it was a very productive day for NHARL, with lots of meaningful conversations and a bunch of new names for our mailing list.

Letter: Using pandemic federal money for hatcheries is a misuse of funds

Letter to the Editor
The Conway Daily Sun
May 13, 2022 

Using pandemic federal money for hatcheries is a misuse of funds

New Hampshire Fish and Game has a fish hatchery problem. It is being sued by the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy organization, for polluting the Merrymeeting River with wastewater from its Powder Mill Fish Hatchery. According to Fish and Game, they cannot keep pollutant levels within EPA limits because the hatcheries, where staff raise millions of fish each year for “put and take” fishing, are old and in disrepair.

Despite taking in millions in fishing license revenue, which is matched by millions from the federal Sport Fishing Restoration Act of 1950, Fish and Game has somehow not managed to maintain and upgrade the hatcheries appropriately.

Recently, Fish and Game saw an opportunity to receive money for its polluting hatcheries in N.H.’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. First, the department asked for and received $1 million in federal funds for a study to rebuild Powder Mill Hatchery. Then last month, they were back, asking for and receiving $55 million more to rebuild two other of the six state hatcheries.

Those in power think the unnatural process of farm-raised fishing is so important to New Hampshire that it warrants spending a huge chunk of pandemic recovery funding on it.

We each have an executive councilor who represents us and approved this expenditure. Express your outrage that N.H. fish hatcheries are getting money that should be used for pandemic relief. The hatcheries should be downsized or closed if license sales can’t pay for them.

LINDA DIONNE
Raymond

Successful Day at NH Fish & Game Event

New Hampshire Animal Rights League is delighted to share the news of our successful outreach efforts at NH Fish & Game’s Discover Wild NH Day held April 16 in Concord.

During this popular family event that attracts thousands, we spread a message of kindness toward mice and other “uninvited houseguests.”

Despite being stationed in a back corner, our tent attracted non-stop visitors, with people waiting in long lines to spin our “Save the Mouse” wheel. 

Accomplishments

  • Educated hundreds of people, young and old, about the cruelty of using glue traps and poison bait blocks.
  • Sounded the alarm about the dangers rodent poisons pose to owls, foxes, bobcats, and other predators, who can become sick and die from consuming poisoned mice.
  • Connected with fellow exhibitor NH Falconers in our shared desire to protect raptors from rodenticide poisoning. Wildlife rehabilitators have seen a dramatic increase in sick owls and other predators
  • Donated books that encourage living in harmony with wildlife — The Humane Gardener and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard — for the event-wide raffle.

Literature

We handed out copies of Are You Poisoning Pets and Wildlife? and our own brochure created for this event, Living with Our Wild Neighbors.

Eye-Catching Poster

We displayed the following eye-catching poster from Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) and discussed it with visitors to our booth.

Smart Mouse Trap Giveaway

We gave out more than 50 safe and humane Smart Mouse Traps and provided hands-on, personal instruction.

Postcard Campaign

We invited children and adults to sign or write postcards asking Walmart to stop selling glue traps and JP Pest Services to offer a more responsible approach to rodent control than indiscriminately littering the landscape with deadly poison.

Hundreds of postcards will be in the mail to Walmart and JP Pest Services. Photos of a few favorites are included below.

Mouse Toy Prizes

As a reward for sending a postcard, kids got to choose from an assortment of adorable catnip mouse toys. The mice were a huge hit, even in households without a cat!

Thank you to our volunteers and to everyone who stopped by to learn about the many reasons to be nice to mice.

After all, it’s their world, too.

Letter: Stop animal research

Letter in the Concord Monitor
February 23, 2022

Letter: Stop animal research

A month ago, a truck transporting a hundred macaque monkeys from NY to a quarantine facility in Florida was involved in a traffic accident. The monkeys, packed in wooden boxes, were thrown from the truck. Three escaped. Once found, the three were shot and killed by the police. How the other monkeys fared in the accident was not reported. The monkeys are from the island nation of Mauritius. They were going to a quarantine facility to pre-check for any diseases or viruses they might be carrying before being used for research. The officials who purchased the macaques have not released information about the monkeys that survived the accident. A passerby stopped at the accident out of concern. She looked in one of the boxes, later became ill, and was awaiting test results for monkey-borne diseases.

Have we learned nothing from COVID-19 and other animal-borne diseases that have jumped to humans, such as we also witnessed with Ebola? There are alternatives to using animals in research that are much safer and would cost the taxpayer less money. Imagine how much money it costs to purchase a hundred monkeys, fly them to the U.S. and then house and quarantine them for several months before possibly using them for research. It’s time to stop exploiting, confining, and in most cases torturing animals for research. We need to transition to only non-animal research. If we leave the animals alone, they will leave us alone.

LINDA DIONNE
Raymond

Cows raised for Food

Beef has been getting a lot of bad press lately, and for good reason. Eating beef has been shown to have a negative effect on our health, the environment, and, of course, the animals. Nevertheless, for many beef is still the habitual main course for the big weekend meal, dinner out, and special occasions.

Despite our devotion to beef, consider that our taste for it might be largely learned. Parents often have to urge young children to “eat your meat,” or use catsup or some other sweet sauce to make it appealing. As adults, if we eat beef it’s likely out of habit, perhaps because it was always just there — at the dinner table, in the cafeteria line, on the restaurant menu, and so on. Eating beef might feel like a “personal choice,” but chances are the choice was made for us, long ago.

“But I Eat Only Grass-Fed Beef”

As the truth about what happens to animals raised for food is increasingly reaching the general public, growing numbers of people are looking for meat that they can buy with a clear conscience.

Beef producers have responded to this demand with labels such as “grass fed,” “local,” and “humanely raised.” Such marketing works because consumers want to trust these labels. But even on the best of farms, there are inherent cruelties involved in raising animals for food, including:

  • Shortened lives — Whether grass-fed or factory-farmed, cows raised for food live only about one-eighth of their natural life span. Beef cows are typically slaughtered between two and three years old. “After about 30 months of age, you will start running into tenderness problems…” one one beef producer wrote.

  • Painful procedures — In addition to living very short lives, cows raised for food may be subjected to painful procedures, such as castration and horn removal without anesthesia. Many of the cruelties animals endure on farms are legal because they are “standard agricultural practices.” These methods save time and money, and for that reason standard agricultural practices are widely used, on big and small farms alike. Pain management is suggested but not required.

  • Potential neglect — Even on small local farms, good care, including providing veterinary care to sick or injured animals, is not guaranteed. For example, sometimes cows aren’t given enough to eat, or nothing is done to protect them from swarming flies, a local beef producer told us. Hay and fly control are expensive. If cash is tight, a farmer may cut corners.

Transport and Slaughter

An inescapable fact of eating animals is that they have to be killed. When that day comes, a local beef producer has only a handful of options in and around New Hampshire. This means that beef producers are often pulling a trailer of animals for hours to get to the slaughterhouse. (Anyone selling meat to the public must take the animals to a slaughterhouse; backyard slaughter is allowed only if the flesh is for one’s own household or will be given away.)

Once at the slaughterhouse, by law the animals are supposed to be killed as quickly and painlessly as possible. But our humane slaughter laws represent a goal, not a guarantee. Even with inspectors on site, mistakes are inevitable. Knives miss the mark. Stun guns don’t work on the first try. Shackled animals come loose and fall to the ground.

Make enough mistakes and the USDA will issue a citation and perhaps even shut a slaughterhouse down for a period, but that’s of no use to the animal who was deprived of the one mercy promised by law: a quick and painless death.

“It’s a common thing that happens in other slaughterhouses. I’d like to see the slaughterhouse that doesn’t have this problem.”

Owner, Blood Farm Slaughterhouse

 

Small-scale New England slaughterhouses may make fewer mistakes than larger facilities, but errors are inevitable.

When Blood Farm in West Groton, MA was shut down for violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act as a result of an employee improperly stunning an animal on the killing floor for the third time,  the owner of the establishment was quoted in the Lowell Sun as saying:

Foie Gras

The photo above is of a Moulard duck rescued from the foie gras industry (photo credit Farm Sanctuary)

Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is the unnaturally fattened liver of a duck (or, less commonly, a goose). It is produced by force feeding ducks so that their livers grow from six to ten times the normal size. Images of these birds hanging featherless after slaughter show bulging livers that take up the majority of their lower half.

Ducks used for foie gras are generally all males. The female duck’s liver doesn’t grow as well as the male’s, so it is most profitable to raise only males. Female ducklings are destroyed or sold to duck meat farms overseas. This use of males is a break from what generally happens in animal agriculture, where more often than not male animals have little or no value.

While the practice of force feeding birds has been with us for thousands of years, our modern view of foie gras as a delicacy likely comes from its connection to French cuisine. Because dishes such as foie gras appear on the menus of fancy, expensive restaurants, we collectively come to regard them as desirable.

Growing Public Awareness

Because of the work of animal rights groups in targeting foie gras and publicizing their methods, which include inserting a feeding tube down the bird’s throat, the general public is aware that there is “something bad” about foie gras. A number of countries and jurisdictions have laws against the production, import, and sale of foie gras. New Hampshire has no such laws. In many places foie gras laws and bans face ongoing opposition and sometimes get overturned.

The “Humane Foie Gras” Myth

Defenders of foie gras point to the anatomy of ducks in arguing that the force feeding is not inhumane. They point out that unlike humans ducks do not have a “gag reflex,” and for this reason claim that the birds are not bothered by having a tube inserted down their throat. The second defense is that the birds are predisposed to “gorge” as normal pre-migration behavior. Yet an undercover investigation carried out at Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a self-proclaimed “humane foie gras” operation in Ferndale, New York, revealed injured and dead birds, as well as workers talking about the number of birds who die during force feeding.

“Sometimes the duck doesn’t get up, and it dies”

A Hudson Valley Foie Gras worker explains, while demonstrating the force feeding process to a new employee
Oversized livers push against nearby organs, including the lungs, which can make it difficult for a bird to breathe. Arguments about whether or not the ducks suffer and to what extent miss the point, as summed up by Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States when he argued in favor of the California foie gras ban:

“Is a soft rubber tube better than a hard tube? Maybe, but you are missing the point. You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease.”

Paul Shapiro, Humane Society of the U.S.

New Hampshire Restaurants Serving Foie Gras

Various New Hampshire restaurants have served foie gras at one time or another. As of June 2022, New Hampshire Animal Rights League is aware of three restaurants that serve foie gras:

Note: At The Foundry in Manchester, foie gras is no longer on the menu. When asked about the decision, the General Manager wrote, “We decided not to have it on the menu anymore due to non sale and too much waste on product.”

What You Can Do

  • Avoid restaurants that serve foie gras. Consider contacting the restaurant and expressing your concern.
  • Educate friends and family about the cruelty behind foie gras.

My Turn: Taking stock of NH’s fish hatcheries

Op-Ed in The Concord Monitor
December 26, 2021

My Turn: Taking stock of NH’s fish hatcheries

Every year, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department raises more than a million fish in concrete tanks and ponds at six fish hatcheries they operate around the state.

Once the fish reach desired size, they are loaded into trucks and driven all over New Hampshire to be deposited into lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Depending on where a particular water body is located and how easy it is to reach, fish may be pumped in through a tube attached to the tanker truck, hand-carried in nets or buckets, or even flown in by helicopter in some cases.

Fish stocking has been going on in New Hampshire in some form for more than a century. For those who grew up fishing here, the state’s annual stocking routine may seem normal. But for others, the idea of driving around putting fish into lakes and ponds (and this is not unique to New Hampshire) sounds crazy. The obvious question is, why is this necessary? Aren’t there already fish in the lakes, ponds and rivers?

The answer, according to NH Fish and Game Executive Director Scott Mason, is that the mineral makeup of New Hampshire’s water is such that it cannot support populations of fish big enough or plentiful enough to satisfy anglers.

But their solution, raising fish in hatcheries and then trucking them around to favorite fishing spots, is not without problems, and water pollution at the hatcheries is one of them.

When mass-producing animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), whether it’s pigs, chickens or in this case, fish, an inevitable side effect is an accumulation of animal waste. Dealing with this waste has been a thorn in the side of the NH Fish and Game for some time.

At the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery in New Durham, wastewater from the operation is discharged directly into the Merrymeeting River, and for years NH Fish and Game exceeded the pollutant levels allowed under its EPA permit. This contributed to harmful cyanobacteria blooms in the river and also landed NH Fish and Game in court.

Seeing an opportunity in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, NH Fish and Game recently asked for and was granted $1,000,000 from the recovery fund to address the water pollution problems at the fish hatcheries. The grant will be put toward the planning stages of building a wastewater treatment facility at the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery.

In other words, NH Fish and Game will use federal ARPA funds, which are intended to help states recover economically from the pandemic and build more resilient infrastructures, to solve its pollution problem— a problem that NH Fish and Game is wholly responsible for and should pay for out of its own budget.

There are also technical reasons to disqualify the project. While ARPA funds may indeed be used for “necessary investments in projects that improve wastewater and stormwater infrastructure,” the eligibility requirements, which are the same as for the existing Clean Water State Revolving Fund, state that assistance is available for projects to control “non-point sources” of pollution, whereas the fish hatcheries are “point-source” polluters.

As it is the mission of our organization to help animals, what troubles us most about the grant is not the misuse of funds but that it signifies a long-term commitment to the fish hatcheries and stocking program.

“Everyone understands that these definitely need major investments,” Governor Sununu told the Executive Council before they voted to approve the ARPA grant.

Fish stocking concerns us because the practice interferes with nature and raises animal welfare concerns.

A growing body of scientific evidence shows that fish not only experience pain but are also far more sophisticated creatures than once understood. Yet at the hatcheries, fish are crowded into barren tanks with nothing to do but swim in circles.

Once released into water bodies, hatchery fish may be ill-equipped to survive or alternatively may out-compete native fish for food. They may also bring with them diseases and/or parasites that fish raised in crowded conditions commonly endure.

At a time when the public is learning there’s a lot more going on in the minds of fish than we might have realized (consider the popularity of documentaries like My Octopus Teacher and Seaspiracy) New Hampshire is planning a future where fish continue to be treated as expendable objects.

Instead of investing even more money in the fish hatcheries, NH Fish and Game should close them down and redirect the resources toward better managing the state’s water bodies to support native fish.

NH Fish and Game is already doing some of this work and could do more if the bulk of the inland fisheries budget weren’t going toward stocking. Where water bodies have been restored by removing dams to allow streams to run freely, for example, native fish populations have rebounded.

And in contrast to the merry-go-round of stocking, restoration projects are long-term, self-sustaining improvements that benefit not only native fish but also entire aquatic ecosystems.

(Joan O’Brien is a board member for New Hampshire Animal Rights League.)

 

NHARL Saves Two Thanksgiving Turkeys from Slaughter

On November 23, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League saved two turkeys at Charmingfare Farm from being slaughtered for Thanksgiving.

An employee at Charmingfare Farm transfers the turkeys to our vehicle

The Story

Back in October, a NHARL board member “reserved” a turkey at Charmingfare Farm. When Thanksgiving approached, there was form to complete, and customers were asked to enter the size turkey they wanted. The NHARL board member entered0 lbs,” and included a note. She said that she’d had a “change of heart,” and asked if she could take her turkey home as a pet.

To their credit, Charmingfare Farm was willing to do it.

“We’ve never had a request like this before,” said the owner of Charmingfare Farm.

NHARL asked for two turkeys, so they would have companionship.

On pick-up day, NHARL waited in line along with all the people picking up dead birds. We conversed loudly about how excited we were to be taking our turkey home alive.

When we got to the counter, we thanked the owner and continued to draw attention to ourselves. We joked that since the Governor had not pardoned a turkey this year, we were pardoning two.

As we were led out to the barn, we heard someone in line say, “Good job,” and another remark, “Now I feel bad.”

The spared turkeys were waiting for us in a crate, right alongside folding tables lined with the bodies of their flockmates.

Our vehicle was strategically parked near the front door, so that when the turkeys were loaded in, it would happen in view of customers coming and going.

A curious little girl, headed to the car with her mother, wanted to see the live turkeys. We invited her to touch the turkey’s soft tail feathers. She was worried about where they were going. “We’re taking these turkeys to a sanctuary,” we said, “so they don’t have to die.”

Her mother looked on with a big smile, despite holding a shopping bag containing a dead bird.

Although Charmingfare Farm shows photos of heritage breed turkeys on their web site, the ones they sell at Thanksgiving are large-breed, “Broad-Breasted White” turkeys (referred to as “Industry” or “Commercial Turkeys”).

The plight of such turkeys includes being bred not for fitness and health, but for fast growth. Rapid growth contributes to a range of devastating health problems, especially leg and joint problems and heart failure. These turkeys aren’t designed for longevity and thus require specialized care. (The Open Sanctury Project is an excellent resource for animal care.)

The turkeys explore their new surroundings the day before Thanksgiving — a day they were not supposed to live to see.

The rescued turkeys are staying with a friend of NHARL’s for the near future but may go to a sanctuary if it is determined that this would be a better home.

Bull Riding Doesn’t Belong in NH, or Anywhere

Op-Ed in Union Leader
Oct 15, 2021

For those who care about animals and want to protect them from mistreatment, a silver lining of the pandemic was that it kept the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour away from Manchester, NH for more than a year. Alas, the tour is returning for two shows at the SNHU Arena in October.

The New Hampshire Animal Rights League opposes bull riding and any other activity where animals are made to perform for our entertainment. Although the PBR refers to the bulls as “animal athletes” and claims that they were born to buck, the bulls, unlike their human riders, do not consent to be there.

Being a PBR bull means being hauled around the country in a trailer, prodded into stalls and chutes, and on performance nights subjected to “a rock concert environment, complete with pulsating music, and explosive pyrotechnics,” as promoters describe it.

In the arena, there are several observable indicators that the bulls experience fear and distress. These include increased “eye white,” which results when the upper eyelid lifts, as well as “diarrhea butt,” an excrement-stained backside.

On event night, life for the bulls goes from just unnatural to downright dangerous. Just before they are let loose into the arena, the flank strap around their mid-section is yanked tight, which aggravates them into bucking harder and over-extending their hind legs as they fight to throw off the rider.

Although portrayed as “beasts” who are impervious to pain, bulls are not machines and often get hurt right along with the riders. Veterinarian and former rodeo performer Peggy Larson explains, “Bucking straps and spurs can cause the bull to buck beyond his normal capacity, and his legs or back may thus be broken.”

The PBR claims to care about the wellbeing of the animals, and yet they subject them to risk of injury over and over again. “In the case of a severe injury, that can’t be repaired through surgery, a bull would be humanely euthanized,” their web site states.

When profitable bulls are worn out or injured so severely that they can no longer perform, they may be retired to life as sperm donors. This allows the industry to continue exploiting the bulls for profit by selling their offspring, semen, or even frozen embryos created in vitro with their sperm. (Google “bucking bull semen and embryos” for an eye-opening look into the mindset of those who treat animals as commodities.)

Remarkably, despite the terrible risk to both the rider and animal, bull riding is marketed as family entertainment. These events may seem like harmless fun, but consider the message they send to both children and adults: it’s okay to dominate and control animals, to force them to perform for our entertainment, and to give little thought to their needs or imagine how they might be suffering.

A number of cities across the country have passed ordinances preventing the use of devices that force bulls and other rodeo animals to perform, including spurs and the flank strap. It is no accident that where these implements are prohibited, bull riding and rodeos disappear.

If you are interested in keeping bull riding out of New Hampshire, please reach out to the NH Animal Rights League.

You can join the NH Animal Rights League outside the SNHU Arena on Friday, Oct, 15 from 6:00 to 7:30PM for a peaceful demonstration against bull riding.