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Home > Calendar > 2012 > October > Week 1 > Thursday > Food, Energy & the Environment Film Series

Ethics of Sending Draft Animals to Slaughter Discussion

When: Thursday, October 04, 2012
Time: 1 - 2:30 p.m.
Where: East Room

At the end of this month, Bill and Lou, the long-standing team of oxen for Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm will leave the farm to be processed for meat.

Bill and Lou have worked as draft animals on the farm for over ten years. They have provided the motive power for a research and education program in draft animal farming that includes hay harvesting, vegetable production, animal driving and training, and electricity production. Last summer, Bill and Lou were featured in several workshops at the New England Organic Farmers’ Association summer conference.

This past year, Lou sustained a recurring injury to his left rear hock that has made it difficult for him to work. After attempting several remedies and giving him a prolonged rest without any improvement, it was the professional opinion of the farm staff and consulting veterinarians that he was no longer fit to work. Farm staff searched for a replacement animal to pair with Bill, but single oxen are difficult to find and it is uncertain that Bill would accept a new teammate in any case. After much deliberation, it was decided to purchase a new team and retire Bill and Lou.

“This has been a difficult decision all around,” stated farm manager Kenneth Mulder. “It is the traditional understanding with working cattle that when they reach the end of their working careers they are still productive as meat animals. But that does not make it easy.”

Bill and Lou cost approximately $300 per month to keep and will provide enough hamburger and beef to the college dining hall to last for a couple months. It is the general feeling of the farm crew and the farm management that the most ecologically and financially sustainable decision was to send them for processing.

On October 4th from 1 to 2:30 in the East Room, there will be an open class session on the ethics of sending draft animals to slaughter. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

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