Farmed Animals in New Hampshire
Animal farming in New Hampshire is done on a small scale, but we still support the big factory farms located in other states with our purchases. Ninety-nine percent of the meat, dairy, and eggs consumed in the United States comes from large-scale factory farms. Unless you avoid these ingredients altogether, you are almost certainly consuming them — if not directly, in baked goods, snack foods, and prepared meals.
Regardless, the idea that you can avoid causing animal suffering by buying animal products only from small farms is untrue. All animals raised for food suffer to some degree, even on small farms.
The suffering of farmed animals often begins just by being born. Farmed animals enter the world in bodies that have been selectively bred not for fitness and health but for whatever traits are valuable to the farmer.
Even the Heritage-breed chickens wandering freely around so many New Hampshire backyards are saddled with bodies that lay 10 to 20 times more eggs than their wild ancestors, who laid a reasonable 10 to 15 per year.
“Standard Agricultural Practices”
Many of the cruelties animals endure on farms are allowed because they are “standard agricultural practices.” Actions that would be considered criminal if done to a dog or cat are perfectly legal when done to an animal raised for food.
Consider that it is standard agricultural practice for a farmer to perform any of the following procedures without anesthesia: castration, removing horns, severing tails, and cutting off beaks. Artificial insemination, separating mothers and newborns, and keeping animals in cages and crates are also “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.
“It shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out what’s cruel and what’s kind. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal.” — Jonathan Safron Foer, Author, Eating Animals
“Animal Science” Programs
One reason animal agriculture endures are the many “Animal Science” programs in place at land grant universities around the country. University of New Hampshire is part of the land grant university system and has its own animal science program.
(Photo shows a cow being artificially inseminated. The farmer’s forearm is inserted in the animal’s rectum in order to guide the semen-filled instrument to the target, the cervix.)
Studying animal science at UNH prepares students for careers in animal agriculture or veterinary medicine. Graduate programs are offered in “Poultry Science,” “Dairy Science,” and “Reproductive Physiology.”
Along with other land grant universities, UNH receives government funding and grants from industry to do research that supports the continuation of animal agriculture.
We All Pay for This
If you are a New Hampshire taxpayer, some portion of your tax dollars goes toward subsidizing the state’s dairy industry — an unprofitable business that produces an unnecessary and unhealthy product at great cost to animals.
Dairy farming may be part of New Hampshire’s “agricultural heritage,” but “tradition” is never justification for continuing a practice that is known to cause unnecessary harm.
The dairy industry as a whole was founded on the premise that cow’s milk and the products made from it are nutritionally necessary to the human diet. Fortunately, groups such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are challenging this long uncontested guidance:
“Milk and other dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.” — The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
UNH’s Dairy Teaching and Research Center
UNH is home to the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. This fully operational dairy farm is run by students for the purpose of instruction and research to benefit New Hampshire dairy farmers.
This sign is posted at the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. It describes how newborn calves are separated from their mothers hours after birth. This is standard operating procedure at dairy farms everywhere.
Exploitation on Parade
NHARL regularly demonstrates at the annual Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro, Vermont. Every year, young calves are paraded down Main Street as thousands cheer them on. (This event is canceled for 2020.)
(Photo credit: Springfield Vermont News)
New Hampshire is home to egg distributor Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. Pete & Gerry’s buys eggs from 130 farms in 12 states and sells nationwide.
Pete & Gerry’s also sells eggs under the Nellie’s Free Range Eggs label, which was the target of a widely publicized exposé and consequent lawsuit brought by consumers who were duped by pictures of hens in open green fields.
Video footage from a Nellie’s Free Range Eggs supplier
A Moulard duck rescuced 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 throats. The second defense is that based on the breed, the birds are pre-disposed to “gorge” as normal migration preparation behavior.
Yet an undercover investigation carried out at Hudson Valley Foie Gras, located 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,” one worker explained while demonstrating the force feeding process.
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.”
New Hampshire Restaurants Serving Foie Gras
Various New Hampshire restaurants have served foie gras at one time or another. As of July 2020, New Hampshire Animal Rights League is aware of two restaurants with foie gras on the menu:
During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, many restaurants revised or limited their menus, which could mean fewer restaurants offering foie gras than before.
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.
NHARL is a non-profit, public charity registered with the State of New Hampshire. We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) humane organization.
NH Animal Rights League P.O. Box 4211 Concord, NH 03023-4211
© 2020 New Hampshire Animal Rights League