MYTH: Farm animals in "confinement" are prone to disease, forcing farmers to routinely use antibiotics, hormones and drugs to keep them alive. This jeopardizes animal and human health.
FACT: Animal scientists, veterinarians and on-farm experience show animals kept in housing are no more likely to get sick than animals kept in the open. In fact, they're generally healthier because they are protected. However, farm animals do sometimes get sick. To prevent illness and to ensure that an animal remains healthy all of its life, farmers will take preventive measures, including the use of animal health products. These products are generally given to the animal in a scientifically formulated feed best suited to the animal's needs. This is the simplest way to ensure each animal gets the care it needs. Animal health products include animal drugs and vaccines, in addition to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients the animal needs in a balanced diet. All animal health products are approved and regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) prior to being given to animals.
MYTH: Modern livestock farms produce huge amounts of waste that pollutes our water.
FACT: In the old days of farming, with animals grazing out on the land, the manure was much more likely to run off into the state’s water system. Today, all manure is required to be contained in approved engineered storage structures on the farm. Farmers are required to inspect the systems so that they don’t leak or overflow. Generally, livestock producers are the only ones required to have zero discharge into state waters.
MYTH: Farm animals are routinely raised on "factory farms," confined in "crowded, unventilated cages and sheds."
FACT: Animals are generally kept in barns and similar housing, with the exception of beef cattle, to protect the health and welfare of the animal. Housing protects animals from predators, disease, and bad weather or extreme climate. Housing also makes breeding and birth less stressful, protects young animals and makes it easier for farmers to care for both healthy and sick animals. Modern housing is well ventilated, warm, well-lighted, clean and scientifically designed for the specific needs of the animal, such as the regular availability of fresh water and a nutritionally balanced diet. For instance, a hog barn wouldn't be used for cows, any more than an adult would sleep in a child's crib. Housing is designed to allow the farmer to provide the best animal care.
MYTH: Farm animals deserve the same rights as we do. All creatures deserve to share the planet equally with man.
FACT: This is a belief held by some vegetarians and animal rights extremists, and is not accepted by the general population. There are theological, scientific and philosophical arguments for why man cares for animals so they may serve him. Certainly, man has the moral obligation to avoid cruelty in dealing with all animals in all situations.
MYTH: Farmers care less for their animals than they do for the money animals bring them. Agribusiness corporations mislead farmers into using production systems and drugs that mean profits at the cost of animal welfare.
FACT: Farmers and ranchers are neither cruel nor naive. One of the main reasons someone goes into farming or ranching is a desire to work with animals. A farmer would compromise his or her own welfare if animals were mistreated. Agriculture is very competitive in the United States. It’s a career that pays the farmer a slim profit on the animals he cares for. Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their farms to ensure animal welfare and the economics of production. It is in the farmer's own best interest to see the animals in his charge treated humanely, guaranteeing him a healthy, high-quality animal, a greater return on his investment and a wholesome food product. No advertising campaign or salesman can convince a farmer to use a system or product that would harm an animal.
MYTH: Farming in the United States is controlled by large corporations that care about profits and not about animal welfare.
FACT: Of the 2.2 million farms in the United States, 87 percent are owned by an individual or a married couple responsible for operating the farm. If partnerships – typically a parent and one or more children or other close relatives – are added to this total, 97 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Even those farms that are legally corporations are generally family controlled, with USDA reporting only 7,000 non-family-controlled corporate farms in the United States.
MYTH: Farm animals are routinely "mutilated" by beak trimming, tail docking, branding, dehorning, castration and other practices to make it easier for the farmer.
FACT: To the inexperienced viewer, some routine farm animal handling practices necessary to the welfare and health of the animal and the insurance of quality food may appear brutal, just as some lifesaving human surgical and medical practices may seem brutal to the casual observer. All of these practices are done in a professional manner to ensure the welfare of the animal.
MYTH: Turkeys are fed growth hormones to artificially stimulate growth.
FACT: No commercially raised turkeys in the United States are ever given hormones of any kind. Although this practice may be sometimes used with other species, it is never employed with turkeys.
MYTH: Egg producers put hormones in the hen feed.
FACT: Growth hormones are never fed to pullets being grown for egg-laying or during the egg-laying period. The hens have a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. The feed is meticulously formulated with the proper nutrients to produce quality eggs and is perfectly balanced with ingredients made up mostly of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals.
MYTH: Livestock farms are not regulated like factories.
FACT: The livestock industry is highly regulated by state and federal authorities including the Environmental Protection Agenecy (EPA) and the Food and Drug Amdinistration (FDA). It’s not uncommon for today’s livestock farmer to hire staff whose sole job is to make certain the operation stays in compliance with state and federal regulations.
MYTH: Having so many hens in a closed facility will increase the risk of avian influenza.
FACT: Modern farming techniques help prevent the spread of avian influenza. Almost all eggs produced in the United States originate from farms with modern cage production systems in housing that protects the flock from contact with migratory birds, predators and other diseases. Few visitors are allowed in poultry houses to reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Modern cage systems allow for daily inspection and monitoring of hens for diseases, and for quick treatment. Most egg facilities have extensive bio-security programs that include cleaning and disinfecting of housing and equipment between flock cycles and all transport equipment for moving birds in and out of the houses; careful planning to keep flocks protected from other domestic and wild birds; fully developed and monitored immunization programs to keep flocks healthy; and complete training of all employees concerning bio-security procedures.
MYTH: Cage-free and free-range hens are healthier and require little or no drugs or medicines.
FACT: Cage-free and free-range hens require continuous medicated feed for some diseases and often require more drugs than caged hens because of their constant exposure and contact with litter and waste on barn floors. Hens in cage systems seldom require drugs and only receive medicines or drugs for therapeutic reasons. In fact, hens kept in cage-free, organic or free-range systems have higher rates of mortality than those kept in cage production systems.
MYTH: Egg farmers starve their hens to make them lay more eggs.
FACT: Until recently the only known method to extend the life of a hen and rejuvenate its reproductive cycle was through the use of a feed-withdrawal molt. Through United Egg Producers-funded research, new methods have been found to induce a successful molt that does not eliminate feed. Based on these research findings, only molt programs that provide hens with nutritionally adequate feed suitable for a non-producing hen are allowed to use the UEP-certified seal.
Source: Soybean Checkoff