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A Cow Never Forgets

Research shows that cows have the intelligence close to that of a dog and slightly higher than a cat.  Published studies also report that cows have an excellent memory!  Apparently so much so that it’s not uncommon for cows to make their way back to their home farms after being sold at auction.  They remember what areas of the pasture are best for grazing as well as locations of their favorite watering holes.  Fellow cows and calves are also recognizable to each other and often work together in packs similar to dogs and wolves.  Alpha leaders are chose based on their best qualities to lead the group and strong relationships form between members of the herd.  Cows also retain memories of people and things that hurt them and cause pain.  It isn’t rare for members of the herd to have a falling out and avoid each other once it has happened.  Just like us humans, cows become stressed and unhappy when they are taken away from their families or family members are taken away from the herd.

Why does this matter if I’m not vegetarian/vegan?

Treatment of cows on feedlots and factory farms is some of the most inhumane out there.  Cows raised for both dairy and meat in large factory settings are subjected to enduring pain, both mental and physical. Considering the long memory span of cows, imagine going through the branding process, having your horns removed (all without painkillers), or having young taken away for veal.  It is not uncommon to hear mother cows bleating for days after they are separated from their calves.  In these settings cows are often not fed proper diets and are also transported several hundred miles during extreme weather conditions which leads to death and serious illnesses.  Once at the slaughterhouse cows often go to slaughter still alive.  Sick and injured cows are no different.  Not only is the sheer pain and mistreatment that these animals sustain disconcerting, but the fact that we as humans consume meat in our diets produced from mistreated cows who often have pneumonia, bloat, acidosis, diarrhea, ulcers, or even liver disease should make you stop and consider the impacts on your own health and well-being.


I’ll Have the Tin Can with Just a Touch of Mustard

Have you ever head that goats will each just about anything?  Yes, including tin cans, cardboard boxes, paper, and even your mittens.  Well ask yourself this: would you eat a tin can?  The answer should be no and the same holds true for goats as well.  Goats are actually pretty selective eaters when the proper food is available for them to eat.  When goats are left to forage on garbage and tin cans rather than graze on grasses and clover they risk adequate growth and digestive health, and are more prone to contracting diseases.  Goats need the proper balance of protein, vitamins, fiber and water to live strong and healthy lives.

Tin can? None for me, thanks.

Why does this matter if I’m not vegetarian/vegan?

People tend to be fascinated by goats and often will keep them as pets, but without the proper nutrition available for them to eat they are doing themselves and the goats a disservice.  While there are lots of other factors to consider before deciding if a goat is a good choice for you, diet is particularly important since it’s one of the most expensive aspects to keeping goats.


It’s Like a Mood Ring for Your Face

Did you know that the skin on a turkey’s face changes color?  It’s true!  The skin on the head and throat can change from gray to red to white to blue.  Color changes indicate feelings of excitement or distress.

Why does this matter if I’m not vegetarian/vegan?

We’ve heard stories of our urban neighbors bringing home a live turkey at Thanksgiving as a joke for their T-Day guests.  Next thing you know turkeys are roaming the BQE and in danger of getting hit by a car.  While it might be a stretch to suggest eating Tofurky during your next holiday dinner (it really is good though and you should give it a try at least for lunch next week) think twice before bringing home a live turkey to your house.  An injured turkey on the side of the BQE is no laughing matter.


Before you call someone CHICKEN consider this…

Chickens are actually pretty smart.  Numerous studies have shown that chickens have the ability to remember and recognize up to 100 other chickens, communicate-including separate alarm calls if the predator is coming by land or sea, show cognitive abilities equal to that of mammals and some primates, and understand that objects still exist even when they are taken away.  Researchers also argue that chickens can suffer from stress and that will make them unhealthy and unhappy.  Some researchers even argue that chicks can do math; that’s right folks, chicks can do math.  Many of these traits in chickens also appear in earlier developmental stages than in humans.

Who you calling chicken?

Why does this matter if I’m not vegetarian/vegan?

More often than other livestock animals, chickens are brought into urban environments and kept as backyard pets for their fresh eggs or to be used for food.  Many chickens turn out to be non-egg producing and roosters can become aggressive towards protecting their hens.  In order to be properly socialized roosters have to be kept in certain ratios with their hen counterparts.  Chickens are also widely used in classroom chick-hatching projects. Many of the chicks will never fully develop and hatch due to poorly monitored hatcheries.  Developing chicks in their natural environments also communicate with their mothers through chirps prior to hatching.  Without this connections, the environment is already in a compromised state.  There is also the question of where chicks go that do survive the hatching process or when urban dwellers realize they do not have the proper knowledge and/or space to care for these animals?  While some are responsibly given homes, many are abandoned onto city streets and lots.  Many abandoned chickens are malnourished, have maggots embedded in their feathers, and sometimes near death.  Those that are fortunate enough to be rescued must go through the process of being re-socialized.  In short fellow urban dwellers, think twice before getting a hen for your patch of grass or hatching eggs in the classroom.

«Learn as the girls learn.  Check back often for updates.»
Born on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border in the small town of Sharon, PA, Mergl grew up as more of a tomboy than a city girl.  At the age of 17, however, she got her first glimpse of New York City and it was then that she knew one day she would call it home.  Now a resident of Brooklyn, NY, Mergl has dedicated her life to issues of social justice.  Over the past several years she has focused on affordable housing and homelessness issues through her work at Common Ground.  Mergl, however, has a personal interest in animal welfare and healthy food initiatives.  As a vegetarian and a diabetic Mergl understands the importance of healthy, fresh foods and maintaining a cruelty-free diet.  Mergl’s not sure what scooping cow-patties on a farm will be like, but she is looking forward to kicking off her heels and getting dirty with the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

*Photos by Andrew Piccone

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