Where then, do we find a suitable template on which to base good animal care? Early on I followed rules set down by an animal care organization. When I joined with this group at the beginning of their program, I saw what seemed to be a reasonable set of requirements. Unfortunately, as these things usually go, good care was not good enough and in an effort to grow their organization they added more and more rules. I guess without adding more and more rules the rule makers would have nothing else to do and they wanted to keep their jobs.
The trouble with these types of organizations, including government standards, is that somewhere along the line, animal care becomes secondary to other political concerns. And so this is the real dilemma, a set of care standards void of politics does not seem possible.
We all live in the natural world, one that is governed by forces we call nature. This natural structure was already in place when we got here. Since it is foolishness to despise the air we breathe or the earth that holds our bodies together, it seems sensible to look to this natural structure for guidance.
I can accept that this system of life is perfect and can not be improved on by man, but others will not. It will still function perfectly even if man suddenly vanished from the earth; it would most likely function better. Yes, man has made changes that suite him, but this does not mean that those changes are an improvement for all life on the planet. Unless you are capable of creating your own self sustaining structure, on a worldwide scale, disagreeing with the notion that the one in place is perfect, is pointless.
In the natural world, the word perfect does not mean that everything lives happily ever after. Some people have done terrible things to animals, but I don’t think any of it measures up to the normal, natural day to day goings on in animal life around the world. There is one significant difference between animal cruelty at the hands of man and the agonies of nature’s doctrine of survival of the fittest: intent. Indeed, it is this absence of malice that makes the natural world and the animals in it perfect. Man, of course, is the exception.
How then do we make use of this natural model of animal care on the farm? The first step, it seems to me, is to remove emotion from the animal care plan. Emotion must give way to logic. Nature acts without regard for individual life; its structure is such that the stability of the whole system is the prime factor in all that goes on. Life is supported by death.
The second step is to realize that our attempts at animal husbandry will be imperfect at best. This is because when we engage in animal husbandry, we are doing so in opposition to nature. We create and keep a group of animals that are not meant to live in the natural world. These animals only exist because we make it so through force of labor and technology. Additionally, we try to do it while getting more out of it than we put in to it, make a profit. Nature follows the rules of physics where nothing is lost or gained. Good animal care will derive naturally from here.