DawnWatch: Egg laying hens and Trappist monks in LA Times — 3/15/07

March 15th, 2007 8:26 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 15, 2007 5:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Egg laying hens and Trappist monks in LA Times — 3/15/07

The Thursday, March 15, Los Angeles Times, includes terrific coverage of PETA’s campaign calling attention to the treatment of hens raised by a Trappist Monastery in South Carolina. The story, by Stephanie Simon, is headed, “PETA calls for monks’ repentance” (Pg A9.) The accompanying photo says it all. The indoor shot of a huge shed full of endless rows of battery cages, each stuffed with hens, has the caption: “‘God’s Precious Creatures’: Mepkin Abbey’s hens are caged according to U.S. industry egg standards.”

Indeed, they are caged according to the US egg industry’s appalling standards.

Simon opens:

“Quoting the pope and Roman Catholic teachings, the nation’s largest animal-rights group has accused a Trappist monastery in South Carolina of raising hens for its egg business in an inhumane manner.

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA — which secretly videotaped the hens — demanded Wednesday that the state attorney general and agricultural officials investigate Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C.

“The group criticizes the monks for keeping their hens tightly caged, and accuses them of misleading consumers with the text on their egg cartons, which hails the abbey’s agricultural operation as part of a ‘centuries-old tradition’ that exemplifies ‘caring cultivation of the earth and its creatures.'”

We read: “‘The way that these monks treat God’s creatures is a sacrilege,’ said PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich, who believes the religious order has a moral obligation to set a high standard.

Note: PETA’s Bruce Friedrich is a proud Catholic who would not want his stand for compassionate treatment of animals to be mistaken for an attack on the monks or their religion. Also, the article tells us that before he was elevated to pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI publicly condemned farms with hens living “so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds.”

We read that the monks say they follow industry standards and their website says that they treat their 21,000 hens as “God’s precious creatures.” And we read, ” Their methods of farming — including confining the hens to wire cages — are so common in this age of industrial agriculture that more than 95% of the eggs sold in this country are produced virtually the same way.”

The article tells us more about standard industry practices:

“In the facilities that produce laying hens, most male chicks are killed shortly after birth. (They’re not raised for meat because they haven’t been bred to produce the large breasts demanded by the broiler industry.) Most females have the tips of their beaks cut off when they are a few days old. Industry scientists say the procedure causes pain and stress, but deem it necessary to prevent the birds from pecking at one another during a lifetime of confinement.

“Egg industry guidelines call for each hen to have at least 67 square inches of space, less than a sheet of paper. They must be able to stand upright, but generally cannot spread their wings, build nests, peck dirt or take dust baths, all natural behaviors in the wild. Because they cannot exercise, their bones often weaken and become subject to fracture when they’re transported to slaughter at about 2 years of age.

We read:

“In letters to Charleston’s Post and Courier and the abbey, several local residents expressed outrage that PETA’s investigator had taken advantage of the order’s hospitality.” The monks, however, have “agreed to consider changing the system.” I hope people will respond to this Los Angeles Times story with letters expressing outrage at the standard treatment of hens being raised for eggs.

You’ll find the story on line at http://tinyurl.com/2uuydc and can send a letter to the editor at letters [at] latimes.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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