[skipwords]April 10 is National Farm Animals Day, a holiday meant to promote the welfare of America's enormous livestock population — including all 9 billion chickens, 244 million turkeys, 93 million cows, 65 million hogs and 6 million sheep, among others.
U.S. farm animals endure a wide range of hardships, from a lack of elbow room and exercise to an excess of hormones and antibiotics. The point of National Farm Animals Day, according to founder Colleen Paige, is "to raise awareness about the plight of slaughter animals, as well as to find homes for abandoned and abused farm animals."
Both are noble goals, and highlight work done year-round by national animal-rights groups such as Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society. But it's also worth giving some attention today to the other end of the spectrum: While their numbers are dwarfed by animals at factory farms, the U.S. and other countries are home to lots of lively livestock, too. Whether they're organic, free-range, drug-free or all of the above, these lucky few are living examples of how to raise farm animals humanely.
And in honor of National Farm Animals Day, here's a look at some of them in action:
Named Angelo, this young sheep seems to enjoy his freedom at a rescue farm in New York. (He might feel even freer, though, if he didn't wear so many sweaters):
These U.K. dairy cows were filmed romping last month after they were released to pasture from their winter housing. A few show off some pretty impressive mooves:
Pigs at play
Even animals that have suffered in subpar conditions can sometimes rebound once they're rescued. These pigs, named Tim and Sprinkles, were reportedly "traumatized" and "inconsolable" until they arrived at Farm Sanctuary:
Running of the goats
Kids will be kids, as these young goats demonstrate at California's Harley Farms:
Chickens, turkeys and geese may not be birds of a feather, but as long as they have space, they don't seem to mind flocking together at Sunny Side Up Coops in Florida:
Spending time outdoors is important for any animal's mental health, but even just a little room to jump around is better than nothing. This pygmy goat, named Quaver, is making the most of what she's got:[/skipwords]
Also on MNN:
- Why livestock antibiotics are making your family sick
- More meat eaters will require doubling of world livestock
- Chickens fed caffeine, arsenic, Prozac, banned antibiotics