AVMA dithers on farm animal welfare
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2003:
DENVER–Distributing photographs of sows in gestation stalls,
Massachusetts delegate Peter Theran, VMD, on July 20, 2003 warned
the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates that
if it continues to endorse the stalls, it might as well cease
pretending to advocate for animal welfare.
Theran, vice president of the Massachusetts SPCA hospital
division, urged support of a resolution submitted by Farm Sanctuary
asking the AVMA House of Delegates to withdraw a pro-gestation stall
position statement approved in 2002 at request of the American
Association of Swine Veterinarians.
Instead, the House of Delegates defeated that resolution,
then passed a resolution calling for more study of the issue.
Also, for the fifth consecutive year, the AVMA House of
Delegates rejected a resolution against starving laying hens to
induce a forced molt.
“Meanwhile, within the past three years, fast food giants
McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, under pressure from animal
welfare advocates, have all banned forced molting through new
regulations for their egg suppliers. The practice is also banned in
Europe and the United Kingdom, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical
Association has taken a stand against it,” pointed out Association
of Veterinarians for Animal Rights representative Holly Cheever, DVM.
The August 1 edition of the Journal of the American
Veterinary Medical Association indicated that even the Food Marketing
Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants showed more
willingness to improve farm animal care, in a recent review of
National Chicken Council welfare guidelines.
“Pending further data,” JAVMA said, the seven-member
FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare Advisory Panel “accepted the NCC’s standards
allowing for no more than 30% of birds in a random sample to have
cracks or ulcers on their feet. The panel also felt that 99%
stunning effectiveness for a 5000-bird sample is achieveable, but
98% effectiveness is acceptable until existing rates can be reviewed.
“Panel members recommended guidelines in three areas
additional to those submitted by the NCC. First, stocking density
should not exceed six pounds live weight per square foot; second,
since lighting influences the prevalence of skeletal disorders,
birds should be given at least four hours of darkness per day; and
finally, when birds are caught and inverted, they should be held by
The panel also recommended that not more than 1% of the birds
going to slaughter should have broken wings, and that the “number of
birds arriving dead at the plant should not exceed 0.6% per day.”