Chapter 7


1. Mutilations of Farm Animals


Factory farmed animals are commonly mutilated. Why? A definition of mutilation is removing or destroying part of an animal for non-healing purposes. Mutilation is an attempt to make animals fit the conditions of a factory farm, rather than fit the farm around the animals. Conditions on factory farms are so severe that animals can injure and even cannibalize one another. Farmers try to suppress such behavior by cutting off bits of the animals. Farmers give varied reasons for mutilating animals (see the Table below). The actual purpose of mutilation is to maintain the efficiency of the factory farming system.

Mutilation is an emotive but commonly used term and without a satisfactory alternative. Some authorities prefer to call mutilations surgical operations, but this is clinical rambling that does not convey the reality, that farmhands, not surgeons, without special training most often carry out mutilations and that animals are usually mutilated without anesthetic. Mutilations ensure that many animals suffer chronic as well as acute mental and physical pain.

The following table lists some of the more common mutilations on factory farms.

Table: Some Mutilations on Factory Farmed Animals

Mutilation Action Ostensible Purpose
1. Branding Permanently mark the hide of cattle. Identification.
2. Castration Remove the testicles of livestock. Prevent breeding, reduce aggression, improve taste of meat.
3. Declawing Remove the claws of poultry. Minimize injuring themselves.
4. Debeaking Cut off the beaks of poultry and fowl. Reduce injury when fighting.
5. Dehorning Cut off the horns of cattle, sheep and goats. Reduce injury when fighting.
6. Desnooding Pinch off the snood of turkeys. Minimize injuring themselves.
7. Detoeing Remove the toes of poultry and fowl. Reduce injuring themselves.
8. Disbudding Destroy the horn buds on calves and young goats. Prevent growth of horns to reduce injury when fighting.
9. Dubbing Cut off the combs of poultry and fowl. Reduce injuring themselves.
10. Ear Notching Clip, tag or punch the ears of livestock. Identification.
11. Mulesing Strip off the skin from the hindquarters of sheep. Reduce risk of disease.
12. Pinioning Cut off the distal wing joint of poultry and fowl. Permanently prevents flight.
13. Ringing Insert a ring in the nose of pigs and cattle. Control movement.
14. Tail Docking Amputate the tail of sheep, pigs and dairy cows. Reduce risk of disease.
15. Teeth Cutting Cut/grind away all or most of the teeth of pigs and sheep. Reduce injury when fighting.
16. Tongue Amputation Cut off the tongue of calves. Prevent sucking problems.

5 FreedomsPainismForgotten Fur
The Golden RuleOver PopulationClimate ChangeAnimal Thinking