A background in the scenery of New Zealand, many are unaware of the suffering meat cattle go through.
While their day to day conditions may seem ideal, careful consideration shows otherwise. A bull’s life begins with the torment of being removed from it’s mother shortly after birth. The mother-child bond is strong – as in most mammals – and this causes grieving and stress for them both.
Bulls are often mutilated, through the removal of their testicles and horns. This can be legally performed without anaesthetic while the bull is still young. The pain is no less because they are young; the young bull will be in pain for up to a week afterwards. Adult bulls sometimes get anaesthetic, however even when an anaesthetic is used, they experience untreated pain for up to a fortnight.
Their daily life – despite appearances – is unpleasant. While we see steer calmly browsing their paddocks, they experience their world in an entirely different light. Often, they are confined to a section of what we see as a large paddock, for the farmers convenience. Rarely will these paddocks provide any shelter, and if they do, never enough for the whole herd. They are left to suffer the heat of the summer sun, and the cold of winter.
On top of this, the large herd sizes which makes farming more economical and easier for farmers, serve to unsettle the steers. Cattle are naturally social animals, forming complex hierarchies to reduce aggression within the herd. When herd sizes are too large, steer cannot manage to learn the identities of other herd members, so hierarchies cannot be formed, and aggression cannot be avoided. This leads to more aggression and stress for the herd members.
After 18 to 30 months of this, they are then sent of for slaughter. This begins with a stressful truck ride to the nearest freezing works, along busy highways. From the moment the steer are mustered from their paddock until they are rendered unconscious for slaughter, they are in a constant state of stress and fear. This can last for three days. Upon being processed at the freezer works, the steer are rendered unconscious through the use of a penetrating captive bolt, percussive stunning or electrical stunning. These methods do not always work, leaving the steer in agony until they can be successfully knocked out. After they are unconscious, they are killed by either cutting through the chest, or a slash across the neck for halal slaughters. Again, these methods don’t guarantee a successful, pain-free death for them.
At this point the feet are removed and sent to be rendered for gelatine, their head-meats salvaged, their hide is stripped for leather, and the rest of their body is processed for the supermarket shelves.