Poultry not considered livestock

I looked up the definition of livestock just for giggles. By definition, any animal raised for profit on a farm or ranch is "livestock". Seems simple enough.

Imagine my surprise (and sadness) when I read about a judge ruling that the nine billion birds killed each year for consumption aren’t actually livestock and don’t need to be rendered insensible to pain prior to their throats being slit.

Let’s back up a second - stunned insensible? According to the federal Methods of Humane Slaughter Act, livestock must be knocked unconscious before the final killing blow. This usually translates to a physical blow to the head for cattle, sheep and goats and an electrical stunning for pigs. But what about the most killed species, the birds? They have consistently been excluded from this basic protection since the law’s inception. Birds do not need to be stunned into an unconscious state - that is nine billion animals who can legally have their throats cuts open while conscious.

Poultry processors generally submerge birds in an electrified water bath, which just doesn’t sound like much fun. Studies show that, if improperly electrified (and they often are), an electric water bath only renders the bird immobile but not unconscious. She can feel every thing done to her, but she cannot physically move away from the pain - what a sad, scary way to die.

I know it’s oft-repeated here, but you have the power to implement change. You can certainly choose to contact federal and state officials, imploring them to implement basic standards of welfare when killing farmed animals. Better yet, you can choose to step out of the system and refrain from eating any product that resulted in the suffering of another feeling, sentient being.

-Marji Beach, Program Coordinator