Farm Animals, Slavery or Symbiosis? Ah. It Depends…

I part company with vegans when they insist all farm work with animals is slavery. Is it slavery when little birds peck parasites off of hippos? It’s synergy; at its best it can be a kind of cooperation. A flock of sheep, if it’s not used for meat, is protected, given a pleasant place to roam, is sheared every so often and they seem to like being sheared. It’s symbiosis, sometimes, between man and animal.

A horse can carry us, and love its work and its rider if it’s treated well and not over used. Horses are sometimes abused–as at race tracks, or endlessly pulling carts in Central Park–but other horses are often doted over and given lovely, protected lives.

As for cows …It should be possible to create a humane and yet profitable dairy. At my house we don’t eat meat (except select fish) but we do consume some dairy–yet it’s getting hard to justify. It seems that even at organic dairy farms they take away the calves from the cows right away and sell them for veal; they KILL the cows after five years because they’re not able to produce milk anymore and the dairy business can’t afford to take care of non profitable cows. But when I was a boy my aunt and her friends had small dairy businesses, and they didn’t do either thing. If the cow got old they put it out to pasture. But on a large scale that’d be hard to do, profitably. Still if you kept it small enough…I wonder if one could also have an “adopt a cow” thing going where people with some spare pasturage could take in cows past milking age…

I think it could be quite successful on a scaled down “local produce” model…

Anyway, I shall conclude by quoting CJ Cherryh: “Nature is not kind. Certain species have grown up with us, as changed from their original form as we are. If you want them not to be dependent on us even for birthing their young in some species, you are 10,000 years too late with the objection.”

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