A few (surprisingly) positive experiences at the world’s largest animal agriculture industry event

Posted on March 04 2019 by

Ben Williamson

in the Animals in farming blog

If you’ve been on World Animal Protection’s Instagram recently, you may have caught one of my stories from the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, GA.

This was my first official trip for World Animal Protection, and I was one of 40,000 people who attended the world’s biggest meat industry event.

As a vegan of nearly ten years, it was a difficult thing to see.

Some of the huge industrial machines designed for killing, dismembering and commodifying animals turned my stomach to look at.

But as I walked among the macerators, tenderizers and rendering equipment and overcame my initial disappointment I started to feel more optimistic about the work that lies ahead of me.

It’s sometimes easy to forget, living in my vegan bubble that most of the world eats meat - and plenty of it.

As the nation’s most popular meat, around one million chickens are slaughtered every hour in the US to feed our appetites.

What is the cause for my optimism?

Because I see that even the smallest improvements in animal welfare can have far reaching effects on the lives of billions of animals.

As I delved farther into IPPE, I came across some innovative companies doing some fascinating things that will help improve the lives of farm animals in the future.

LiveEgg, from Israel is one such company. Their embryonic sensor technology allows a hatchery to determine the gender of the animal growing inside an egg shell during the incubation process.

This non-invasive technology is important because it will end the mass slaughter of days old male chicks, who—by virtue of being born the wrong gender cannot lay eggs and by being born the wrong breedare not used for their meat—are deemed worthless and thrown in high-speed grinders (picture a small wood-chipper), dozens at a time.

Greengage is another company working to increase living conditions for farm animals through infrared light and audio monitoring systems for chicken sheds.

Whereas most barns are monitored for temperature and humidity alone, this technology company’s cameras monitor the temperature and movement of individual birds, and its soundwave technology can identify the seven different distress calls of chickens and separate them from other sounds coming from the flock. 

Here’s a video of my conversation with a Georgia Tech Research Institute researcher about monitoring sound in broiler barns to understand more about chicken welfare: 

There’s certainly a long way to go in our mission to end the suffering of animals on factory farms.

But with the help of exciting technological advances and the global movement we’re building to demand change in factory farms on a global scale, we’ll get there sooner than we think.

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