Millions of Animals — Mutilated for Money

Millions of Animals — Mutilated for Money

Most standard farming practices would be illegal if committed against dogs or cats, but exemptions allow the animal agriculture industry to mutilate farmed animals with no legal consequences.

Animal agriculture representatives prefer to call these mutilations “surgical operations,” but this is far from reality since it is farmhands, not surgeons who perform these “operations” and they are often equipped with nothing more than a pair of pliers, a burning hot iron or a knife.

Tail docking is performed on both pigs and lambs and is the process of removing most of the tail using one of three methods: cutting through the tail bone with a pair of clippers, cutting through the tail bone with a hot knife, or by placing a rubber band around the tail to cut off circulation so it withers and falls off. All of these methods are extremely painful and performed without pain relief while the animals are fully conscious. Frequently tails are cut too short, and animals suffer from rectal prolapse in which the tail muscles weaken and force the rectum to painfully protrude from the anus.

Disbudding involves burning the budding horns of young calves or lambs to prevent growth. One method involves using a hot iron to apply searing heat to the growth rings, frequently injuring underlying flesh and bone in the process. A second method involves applying a paste of acidic chemicals to burn the growth rings. Not only does this acidic paste injure underlying flesh and bone, but it will often cause injury to the animals’ eyes and skin, but this is considered mere “collateral damage” by farmers.

Dehorning involves removing horns from an animal’s skull (cows, bulls and sheep) using anything from knives, wires, saws or shears without any anesthetic or pain relief. This mutilation is intended to make it easier to handle the animals, yet little concern is given to the severe pain and distress it causes. Additionally, horns are necessary for the cooling and thermoregulation of an animal’s body because horns regulate the temperature of blood supply to the brain. When horns are sliced or burned off, this natural process is hindered.

Castration is performed on bulls, lambs, and pigs using one of three methods: cutting an animal’s scrotum open, pulling their testes out and cutting them off with a blade; attaching a rubber ring tightly around the scrotum to constrict blood flow and eventually causing their testicles to fall off; or by using a pair of clippers to slice them off completely. All methods are performed while fully conscious and without anesthetic or pain relief.

Branding is performed using a metal rod which is heated up to 400°F or dipped into liquid nitrogen. It’s then seared into an animal’s skin for identification purposes. This procedure causes ongoing pain and is executed while animals are fully conscious and without anesthetic or pain relief.

Teeth Clipping is performed on pigs’ tusk-shaped teeth (four on the top and four on the bottom) using a pair of metal pliers. This often causes painful inflammation or abscesses. Sometimes their teeth are painfully crushed if the blade isn’t sharp enough. This procedure is performed while animals are fully conscious and without any anesthetic or pain relief.

Debeaking is performed mainly on chickens and turkeys using a hot blade or infrared laser machine that slices off the end of their beaks. Re-trimming may also be carried out if their beaks grows back. Debeaking is performed while birds are fully conscious and performed without anesthetic or pain relief. Chickens and turkeys have nerve endings and blood vessels which run all the way to the tip of their beaks. In fact, at the very tip of their beak is a specialized cluster of highly sensitive ‘mechanoreceptors,’ called the ‘bill tip organ’ — designed to help chickens make fine tactile recognitions such as finding food in the wild, so this procedure causes acute and chronic pain due to tissue damage and nerve injury which can often last for months.

Electroejaculation involves inserting a rectal probe into the anus of an animal (bulls, turkeys, roosters, and pigs) kept for breeding and electrocuting them to force the release of semen. Their semen is then collected to artificially inseminate (impregnate) a female. Because this method is fast, it is often favored over the alternative method of semen collection using an artificial vagina. Natural methods of breeding on an industrial scale is not considered viable because there is less ability for genetic control and pregnancy/birth synchronization.


In the animal agriculture industry, profit will always come before animal welfare. Numerous cruel practices are unavoidable when exploiting animals for food, and it is clear that we cannot depend on the law or a packaging label to effectively protect farmed animals.

We as animal advocates must take matters into our own hands by no longer funding this cruelty. Find out how, in this free and simple guide!

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