The so-called Humane Society of the United States, a PETA-like organization unrelated to local pet shelters, can’t seem to get its story straight. On the one hand, it pushes for “free-range” or “pasture-based” farming systems. Yet on the other, it complains when animals are exposed to extreme weather.
HSUS is supporting a ban on carriage horses. And its complaint reeks of hypocrisy:
The practice of urban horses pulling carriages over snow-covered city streets is either a romantic ideal or a terrible life for the horses.
The Humane Society of the United States believes the winters are too cold and the summers too hot in places like Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
So it’s too cold for horses—but it’s not too cold for livestock?
We recently sat down with a swine veterinarian who grew up on a family farm in the upper Midwest. (We’ll leave him anonymous so that he doesn’t get “humaniacs” flooding his email inbox.) He has 60 years of experience with pigs. His farm had the animals outdoors several decades ago—but as one can imagine, that posed problems in the winter. So his family moved the animals indoors.
Then, they found that these indoor group pens saw the pregnant sows fighting each other for dominance, as well as being aggressive toward workers. (A 400-pound animal can certainly be a threat to worker safety.) So, they looked at housing the animals individually in gestation stalls, or individual maternity pens.
That is why pig farmers broadly have moved to the use of individual maternity pens for pregnant pigs, and why these systems are supported by veterinarians. They still meet animal welfare needs. But HSUS and other animal rights activists have harped against them, trying to legislate farmers into adopting costly, back-to-the-start infrastructure changes that are designed at putting them out of business. In the bigger picture, HSUS is against all animal agriculture and is using an incremental strategy to make it harder to raise animals for food.
What’s apparent is that HSUS will say anything to try to push its agenda, even when it’s contradictory. It’s too cold for carriage horses, but not livestock. Remember that HSUS is not a veterinary organization. It’s an organization of professional PETA-type activists. Its opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
As for horses, the Amish might wonder if their buggies will be the next HSUS target. As for farm animals, they should be glad they weren’t in “free-range” systems during the latest polar vortex.