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Millions of farm animals to be culled after meat industry plants shut down

A countless number of chicks, chickens, pigs, and cows born and raised for their meat, eggs, and milk are being brutally killed following the shutdown of slaughterhouses in some countries as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

As animals are no longer required by the industry, keeping them alive is pricier than the market value of their meat. Thus, farm animals are the target of the cruelest methods of mass annihilation, such as suffocation, drowning, or shooting.

Between 30 and 40 meat-processing plants have already closed their doors in the United States due to high Covid-19 infection rates among staff, which led to the slaughter of millions of chickens using a water-based foam, similar to the one used in fires, which causes them sustained suffering until their eventual deaths.

Meanwhile, pigs also share a cruel fate. Just counting the United States, close to 10 million pigs could be slaughtered in these months with gas, gunshots, anesthesia overdoses or physical trauma, which involve bruises, abrasions, lacerations, internal bleeding or even bone fractures from hitting the piglets against the ground.

Cows don't have a better destiny, either. In the USA, many dairy producers sent their cows to slaughterhouses to make hamburgers out of their flesh after the Covid-19 reduced the demand for milk and increased the retail purchase of cheap meat. This year, American dairies are reducing their herd size by 80,000 to 90,000.

The same bloody reality around the world

The falling demand and prices of chicken in India is leading, several poultry farmers to kill their animals. They argue cannot bear the costs of feeding the animals. The case of a farmer in Karnataka, a state on the shores of the Arabian Sea, has gone viral on social networks after he loaded about 6,000 chicks into a truck and buried them alive.

Meanwhile, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the world outbreak began, some poultry farmers slaughtered their young birds or starved them to death because they can´t transport live poultry from one place to another due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Meat packaging activities put workers at risk

Recently, the meat packaging industry was in the headlines since it became one of the leading places for the spread of the virus. As slaughterhouses were considered an essential activity in many countries, they remained operational during the pandemic.

A company called Smithfield, the ninth-largest pig processor in the US, confirmed that at least 644 cases were related to their factorial facilities. Other meat processing companies, such as JBS and Tyson Foods (two of the world's largest meatpackers), have also had several infected workers. A Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, registered 730 cases of coronavirus (nearly 60 percent of its employees) and another plant in Waterloo, Iowa, had 1,031 reported cases among some 2,800 workers.

Canada, Spain, Ireland, Brazil and Australia went through similar situations, making it hard to believe that this is just a coincidence. Some factors, such as the long hours that workers work while staying physically close, the requirements of the job and the social vulnerability to which they are exposed (e.g., low wages, and the fact that they are often immigrants with limited access to medical care) could give some clues to understand why the meat packaging industry became a time bomb for the spread of this new disease.

Plant shutdowns were a critical measure to protect workers. But they cannot be done at the expense of animals. No one deserves to be unnecessarily and brutally killed while still conscious, through methods that involve suffocation, shooting, drowning, among others.

Animal consumption is what keeps this cruel industry alive, and also one of the main factors that can lead to future pandemics. Over the last decades, the demand for meat, eggs and milk has led to the intensification of animal agriculture, in extreme confinement and under terrible sanitary conditions, which opens the door to new infectious diseases, such as Covid-19.

And when a disease outbreak comes, animals are again among the ones that suffer the most. We can prevent cows, chicks, and chickens from being killed. We can also save thousands of people from dying knowing that animal agriculture may be the key behind new cases of disease outbreaks. So then why do we keep eating animals? A vegan diet is not only possible, but also delicious and healthy. Learn how to start now.

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