In every increasing feedlots in Australia, cattle suffer from disease, stress, lack of exercise and poor and unnatural diets. In a natural environment cattle are ruminant creatures that spend up to 12 hours a day grazing, seeking a variety of grasses. Not surprisingly intensive husbandry practices come with a variety of disorders and this is becoming more prevalent in feedlots. The Animal Research Institute in Queensland is seeking ways of dealing with the new disease threats associated with intensive management of cattle. Tick fever; buffalo fly; bovine herpes virus (BHV1); bovine respiratory disease (BRD); acidosis; feedlot bloat; liver abscesses; sudden death syndromes; botulism and pink-eye. Causes of feedlot lameness include – toe abscesses; mechanical injury to the hoof; footrot; swollen joints; broken bones and muscle damage.
Feedlot cattle are fed hormones and antibiotics to curb disease caused by this system of husbandry and also to promote growth. Australia has the capacity for over 1 million cattle in feedlots at any one time, they are always, at least, 50% capacity. Feedlot cattle are denied adequate exercise in order to facilitate the fattening process and they have no relief from excessive heat and cold. Their diet is often comprised of manure from broiler sheds, ground-up fish meal, sawdust and offal.
Before ending up in feedlots cattle have suffered mutilation, stress of transportation, being rounded up and goaded through stockyards. Mutilation of cattle is done without anaesthesia and includes: BRANDING with hot iron brands which is traumatic and painful; CASTRATION and DEHORNING – this is a barbaric practice using a large pair of scoop-like clippers to remove the horn and root, and it is not unlikely that the skull will be fractured by the operation. Part of the head must be removed by at least 1 centimetre. deep. Another method used whereby the outer horn is sawn through initially and the sensitive core with its nerves and blood vessels is sliced off with a knife.
Some cattle farmers are now choosing shorthorn or polled (without horns) breeds. Calves are disbudded – the horn is removed to prevent the growth of horns. A hot iron is applied to the horn bud when the calf is 4-6 weeks old, it is similar to a soldering iron. As with dehorning, restraint is obviously necessary which is, of itself, stressful. Studies of pain and stress in calves have shown that despite using anaesthesia (which is rare) horn bud removal is distressing, once the painkiller has worn off the animal suffers terribly.
Have you seen the feedlot movie on our movie page?
Written by Animal Liberation