Protecting the environment through my own actions is important to me as it is part of the physical aspect of what I use words to call me.

I did a paper for one of the Triratna Mitra study projects to look at the precept of not causing harm as related to current agriculture and have adapted it here.

I first looked into egg production. This is still practiced in some instances on a small scale by local farmers. One of the reasons to buy locally is to help the local economy. In a very small scale operation that I’ve found, the prices are still competitive. The eggs are more favorable and the shells are not as thin as the larger producers market.

But, as with most of agriculture the trend is to larger, more factory like operations. I was concerned about the stories I heard about beak trimming and tight cages for the hens.

A reason for beak trimming, in which there is minimal beak trimming (usually just removing the sharp tip) is done in order to avoid heavy feather pecking and cannibalism among laying hen flocks. This is quite different than debeaking which is really unnecessary.

Studies on the stress physiology, bone strength and fractures, immunology, and mortality of laying hens indicate that hen welfare is not enhanced in non-cage housing systems according to one of my unbiased sources.

The picture on dairy is a lot more dismal. There are few small operations left, few enough that I couldn’t find any locally, and I do live in a rural area. What I did find online gave a sad picture of calf bonding deprivation, really horrible stories about veal production and short life spans for the milking cows themselves due to over breeding as well as genetic trends toward producing cows with larger production and udders causing physical problems for the cows.

Another aspect of not causing harm is caring for the environment. I’m an avid recycler and try my best to return used containers to the energy stream. Most things can be recycled or composted. I’ve still to get into composting, tried it once without much success.

Some interesting links:

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Beak Trimming

Beak Trimming – the Facts! By British Hen Welfare Trust

What about Humanely Raised Milk and Dairy Products? By Free From Harm, May 3rd, 2011