“Fake news” makes its way across the Internet in all forms and agriculture isn’t immune to it as a viral Facebook post proves.
A Facebook page that appears to be based in Australia called “Animals are people, too.” and was created on July 3 went through a posting tirade for seven days. Posts shared by the page appear to be satire with outrageous memes like a photo of cotton sitting in a ditch saying “Truck Drivers! Slow Down and Stop Hitting Animals”. Another says “Say no to pig hunting with dogs and release the doges into the wild so they can be free.” There is also photo depicting a man who allegedly stole a wild horse, but the horse is stuffed and hoisted over his shoulders.
The post that took the cake though was the “Cow Crusher” and it quickly caught the attention of social media users around the globe. In the photo published on July 9, the last day anything was sent by the page, a bull can be seen laid on its side in a hoof trimming chute.
A caption with the photo reads, “Cow crushers designed to crush cows to death is one horrid thing but this is a whole new level or cow torture! This device gives farmers a kick from LITERALLY crushes the poor animal whilst rotating it up, down, side to side in a rapid movement controlled by a big tractor machine, shaking it around in HORROR! This is NOT a theme park! This poor cow had no hope, the blood would have rushed to her head until she passed out and who knows what the “farmers” did to the poor animal after that. All I know is that she is dead now and is probably covered in urine.”
People were quick to jump on the post and point out it was incorrect with nearly 34,000 comments, while eclipsing 21,000 shares in a week.
“That photo is not of a livestock crushing device, it is a cattle handling crush, used to trim feet, treat injuries, perform veterinary procedures with the least amount of danger to the cattle, and the attending persons,” writes a Facebook user from Canada.
“Farmers do care about their animals, the reason it's run off the hydraulics of the tractor is because cattle are very heavy. Hydraulic power makes it easier to turn the cow. Please educate yourself and your children,” says a person from the United States.
“This is a bull so I don’t think that name is very respectful to his sexuality,” says a user from the United Kingdom pointing out the original post said the bull’s name is Stephanie.
“This gently turns the cow on its side so their hooves can be trimmed. It’s not cruel. They walk in if their own free will and are secured in so they don’t get hurt, it turns them, their hooves get trimmed, they’re turned upright, and they walk out and eat. No cruelty here. Move along!” adds a Facebook poster in the United States.
Following all the pushback on social media a page was created on the popular fact checking website Snopes to let people know that the post was “false.”
The Snopes page shares a number of videos with squeeze chutes to help debunk the myth, along with facts from Meat & Livestock Australia on “cattle crushes,” which is the term used in Australia for a chute.
The photo used in the viral post originally came from Glendale Engineering, a livestock equipment manufacture in the United Kingdom.
Whether the post was a deliberate piece of fake new or satire is up for debate as the page has stopped being active, but it still serves as a reminder of the disconnect between rural and urban areas around the globe.