Archive for December, 2012

Am I a Barbarian?

December 7, 2012

Listening to ABC current affairs recently I feel that society has moved past me. That is probably so in many ways but on this point I wish to dissent. The four corners exposé’s on the slaughter of animals sourced from Australia were shocking because of the cruelty perpetrated upon the animals and because of the indifference displayed by the perpetrators. There was no recognition of any cruelty amongst the Indonesian slaughtermen as they hauled cattle out of the slaughter box and eventually cut their throats while the next in line watched their prospective fate. You don’t have to go back far in our history to find the same attitude toward animals. My grandfather believed the only way to kill a pig was to straddle the animal, then “stick him” and let it run around until it dropped. That way you could be sure it had bled properly.
I have euthanased animals (is that a noun being turned into a verb? My apologies); cows injured or sick, I have shot; sheep with cancers or other indeterminate illnesses have had their throat cut and neck broken- I reckon the process takes about 10 seconds. I have also killed animals before their time. Prime lambs for the table, foxes, rabbits and kangaroos that threaten my farm and my livelihood. I have even killed faithful sheepdogs that are just not up to the task and I cannot afford to continue to feed. That is the most difficult job, to shoot an animal that gives so much and expects so little. It is not cruel though. It feels no pain and has no expectation of its demise. I am a farmer; I am responsible for the premature death of thousands of animals; killed for the tables of families all over NSW and overseas. I don’t believe that this makes me cruel. I am familiar with death. This may make me callous but not necessarily cruel.
I do cause my animals stress, you can tell a sheep is stressed when a carnivore leaps onto their backs and yells in their face. However the stress seems to pass quickly, as they soon resume standard behaviour and will look at the dog nonchalantly from a distance.
The ABC reported recently on the horse racing industry and the greyhound racing industry culling horses and dogs that had either finished their career or did not make the grade. This act of culling was reported as cruel. What else are the owners meant to do? Release them into the wild? You may object to the exploitation of animals for the entertainment of humans, perhaps future generations may look back at this generation as I look back at my grandfather but the quick death of an animal by human hand is not necessarily cruel. We have been exploiting animals for our own purposes for tens of thousands of years. We have been distorting the natural way for generations; we cannot walk away from the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of breeding domestic animals. People who cannot face their responsibilities are the types who dump pet cats and dogs in the bush to either die a miserable death or breed up to wreak havoc on native wildlife.
If the ABC feels the need to instil outrage at the exploitation of animals, it should be honest about it. It may be immoral to race animals around a track however dealing with surplus animals in as quick and painless way as possible is not the issue.