Can you imagine being slowly roasted alive while you're trapped in a place that is completely sealed? Can you imagine being fully conscious as you die with thousands who are in the same situation as you are? When everyone around you is equally trapped, equally powerless. To have to hear their screams of desperation and terror, for hours, because that’s all any of you can do.
This is exactly what meat farms across the US did to millions of pigs and chickens because slaughterhouses were temporarily shut-down due to COVID-19. Unwilling to keep the animals alive for longer than their scheduled slaughter date, farms across the US decided to exterminate animals while lobbying the government to pay them the profits they could have made from sending the animals to slaughter, using taxpayers money.
In one brave investigation, activists from Direct Action Everywhere, placed a camera inside the largest pig farm in Iowa, Iowa Select Farms. When the farm decided to exterminate thousands of young pigs using the newly invented torture of a “Ventilation Shutdown”, the camera was there to record this monstrosity.
What is Ventilation Shutdown?
In the US, it is estimated that more than 98% of chickens, turkeys and pigs raised for meat live inside huge closed-up warehouses with no access to the outdoors, often referred to as “factory farms”. Since factory farms don’t usually include windows, they rely on artificial ventilation to keep the animals who are held inside alive.
During a “Ventilation Shutdown”, or VSD, farmers switch off the ventilation after they’ve sealed off any entrance of air from the outside. As the thousands of trapped animals struggle to breathe, their body heat increases the temperature inside the sealed space. After long hours, many of the animals die from a combination of heat-stress and suffocation.
Some farms, like Iowa Select Farms, add burning steam or use other methods to increase the temperature inside the farm. According to The Intercept, workers from Iowa Select Farms were filmed entering the farm the morning after, to execute survivors with a bolt gun.
Why are animal farms using such cruel methods?
Whenever animals can’t be sent to slaughter, for whatever reason, farms prefer to kill all the animals at once to cut costs. This is how Ventilation Shutdown came into existence, it’s a very cheap and easy way of exterminating thousands of animals at once.
Other popular methods that are being used around the world for mass killings include burying the animals alive, suffocating the animals using a dense foam, and setting live animals on fire.
Once the animals are exterminated, farms can continue to ask the government or their insurance provider to cover their lost profits. Sadly, governments all around the world are aggressively funding the meat industry and additional compensations, apart from the regular subsidies, are very easy to secure.
But what about the animals?
In the eyes of the law and the industry, these animals are nothing more than (live)stock or merchandise. The terror and pain they have to endure by the meat industry are seen as irrelevant.
The only thing that matters to the industry and to many politicians around the world, is what the public believe is being done to the animals, as opposed to what is actually being done. This is how laws that prohibit animal organizations from filming inside meat farms came into existence, and why the industry uses dishonest marketing to generate a false perception that meat comes from happy animals.
Perhaps the saddest part is that the monstrosity of Ventilation Shutdowns is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, these pigs, chickens, and turkeys are held in farms that torture them from the moment they are born. These animals endure mutilations (cutting off tails, teeth, beaks, toes), beating from impatient workers, extreme confinement, living inside filthy closed-up spaces filled with secretions, and eye-burning ammonia, and so much more.
For those of us who care, and there are many of us, it’s really time to ask ourselves if we want to continue to support an industry that does these horrible things to innocent animals?