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Tens of millions of chickens, pigs, cows, and fish are suffering in South Africa right now because of intermittent power outages or load-shedding. Humane Society International/Africa is warning that the load-shedding is being increased to level six, with rollouts of up to four and a half hours continuously occurring. The organization says that this increases the risk of huge numbers of animals enduring overheating, stress, illness, and painful deaths due to the lack of electricity-dependent ventilation, lighting, and temperature control.

Source: SABC News/Youtube

Just in the last six weeks, 10 million one-day-old chicks were culled and at least 40,000 birds have died due to disruptions caused by persistent load-shedding.

“While concern for the impact on producers and farmworkers is rightly vocalised, the lethal impact on animals is being overlooked,” says the Humane Society. “The animal welfare impacts are most acutely felt in intensive production systems where the animals’ unnatural and automated environment is dependent on a constant supply of electricity.”

Unfortunately, load-shedding is nothing new to South Africa, which has been experiencing rolling blackouts since January 2008. While there are some farmers that have disaster management plans in place to avoid suffering, policymakers need to require farmers to create and implement those plans.

The Humane Society is also urging the South African government to rethink and Support changes within the food systems, including moving farmers away from intensive animal production. By helping the public make human food choices, it will not only improve the welfare of farmed animals but also decrease food insecurity in South Africa as well.

Candice Blom, farmed animal specialist for HSI/Africa, says,

“Animals are individual, sentient beings whose welfare matters. The well-being of millions of animals is a serious concern, along with the economic loss, food insecurity and food price increases relating to load-shedding. Extreme confinement is a defining feature of factory farms that millions of creatures across South Africa are already enduring.

“Now their suffering is made even worse due to the lack of power. This emergency situation underlines that it is simply not sustainable to continue producing food in this way. Disease outbreaks, events like veld fires and droughts, and now loadshedding, all put the animal agriculture industry in a permanent state of crisis with devastating effects on farmed animals.”

There is no such thing as ethical meat, and there is no way of knowing how the animals have been treated before they reach your plate. The most ethical option is to ditch meat as well as other animal products entirely and go vegan.

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