Farm Animals Suffer from Government Breeding Experiments Aimed at Bolstering Meat Industry Profits

Thursday, January 22, 2015
Cattle at the Meat Animal Research Center (photo: Nati Harnik, AP)

A federal research laboratory has spent decades subjecting farm animals to painful experiments in order to bolster the profits of the meat industry, according to a New York Times investigation.


At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, cattle, pigs and sheep have been experimented on to make them produce multiple offspring, pigs so lean that they sometimes can’t reproduce and “low maintenance” sheep.


The research has produced results that sickened veterinarians working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the complex of labs and pastures in Clay Center, Neb.


Pigs wind up having as many as 14 piglets at a time, instead of the normal eight. Many of the added offspring are born frail, and wind up being crushed accidentally by their mother.


Surgery and breeding techniques have forced cows to bear twins and triplets, instead of just one calf. The calves “often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed,” the Times’ Michael Moss reported. Many farmers don’t even want cows delivering multiple offspring, saying it’s too much work and too expensive.


There are also “easy care” sheep that give birth in open fields, where many lambs die of starvation, from bad weather or predators.


In other cases, painful operations are performed on animals by researchers who aren’t veterinarians. “Experimental surgery is being performed in some (not all) cases by untrained, unskilled and unsupervised staff,” Capital Humane Society executive director Robert Downey wrote to the center’s director, according to the Times. “This has resulted in the suffering of animals and in some cases the subsequent death of animals.”


The dead animals pile up in such numbers that the center built a vast “dead pit” to dispose of carcasses.


Moss noted that the USDA “strictly polices the treatment of animals at slaughterhouses and private laboratories. But it does not closely monitor the center’s use of animals, or even enforce its own rules requiring careful scrutiny of experiments.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit (by Michael Moss, New York Times)

The Horror that is America’s Government-Funded Animal Research Center (by Roberto A. Ferdman, Washington Post)

Ten Worst Laboratories (SourceWatch)

Animal Rights Groups Sue Utah over Law Criminalizing Undercover Photography of Farm Abuse (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

“Ag-Gag” Bill Would Protect Factory Farms from Animal Cruelty Whistle-Blowing (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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