22 February 2010

A Look at Humane Farming

The film Partitions (running time: 14 minutes) by Audrey Kali gives an intimate glimpse of the ethical struggles that five small-scale meat farmers face when their animals are slaughtered. In this film, we see farmers interacting with the animals they will eventually transform into food (chickens, pigs, and cattle). The farmers in the film confront very difficult questions posed by the filmmaker about why they think their approach to processing of meat is different from that of factory farming. Although the farmers can easily answer that their animals are treated more humanely whilst alive, their discomfort about being asked questions regarding the slaughter process is visually and audibly obvious.

This film provides an accurate portrayal of small-scale, non-intensive animal farming. This is as humane as "humane farming" gets. One of the farmers interviewed says: "We give our pigs and our chickens many weeks of relatively happy life." The farmer fails to note that the natural lifespan of pigs is 11-15 years and the natural lifespan of chickens is 5-11 years, depending on breed. After watching the film, the viewer can decide whether giving these animals a few weeks of "a relatively happy life" is humane enough to justify taking these animals' lives for products that no one needs.