No Animal Left Behind: Why no animal should be kept hungry, malnourished or thirsty

No Animal Left Behind: Why no animal should be kept hungry, malnourished or thirsty

5 July 2021
Every animal deserves to enjoy nutritious, wholesome food and easy access to fresh clean water. Most would naturally spend many hours rooting, grazing, browsing, foraging and feeding. Encouraging them to express these behaviours, through thoughtful husbandry, is vital to their wellbeing. A scoop of concentrated, industrial feed delivered once or twice a day brings little but boredom and frustration and empty hours. As part of our campaign ‘No Animal Left Behind’, we release the fourth demand today which focuses on good nutrition.

Dairy production has become increasingly intensive and dairy cows are being bred to produce increasing quantities of milk. Unfortunately, when pushed to their limits, dairy cows become emaciated as they simply cannot eat enough. Naturally, cows should eat grass and other vegetation that can provide all the nutrients they need. The intensively farmed dairy cow, however, can not survive off a diet of grass. To produce thousands of liters of milk throughout their life , cows need to be fed energy-rich feed to sustain their production. As well as causing cows health issues, having solely this unnatural diet leaves them frustrated as they cannot perform the natural grazing behaviour they have evolved to do. 

Dairy cows are usually either pregnant or pructing milk (or both at the same time!), and this places even more strain on their bodies, leaving them constantly hungry. These hungry mothers simply cannot eat enough to sustain their growing calves, produce the huge milk yields required from them, and maintain their health and fitness. The result is a thin and starving cow who is exhausted and burnt out far beyond her natural life expectancy. 

There is another way: Dairy cows can be kept on pasture, out in fields where they belong. When they are not pushed to produce excessive amounts of milk, a natural diet is sufficient for them to satiate their hunger, have good health, grow healthy calves, and still produce enough milk for humans. Cows should be allowed to go on pasture to graze.

‘Foie gras’ means fatty liver and it is produced from the cruel and painful process of force-feeding ducks and geese several times a day with large amounts of feed over 2-3 weeks. This process increases the size of their liver to ten times its original size, and its fat content to over 50%. To do this, the birds are first caught and restrained, a long feeding tube is then inserted into their gullet, and feed is pumped into their stomachs. Force-feeding causes the birds' great distress, as well as many health issues from the unnatural quantity of food they are forced to consume. Once the process is over they are left panting, less able to move, and are fearful of the person who force-fed them. Their liver suffers greatly too, and its structure and function are severely altered and compromised. 

If the birds were not slaughtered within weeks of the process starting, they would die from liver failure, injuries or respiratory failure. Foie gras is a luxury product and there are many alternatives available. One alternative is ethical foie gras or faux gras. Some farmers now extensively raise ducks and geese, allowing them to naturally gorge themselves on feed, which enlarges their liver to a sustainable level. There is no force-feeding involved, and the birds are free to feed and roam as they wish.


2021 brings a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have until September to persuade the European Commission to undertake a complete review of ALL legislation that affects farmed animals in Europe. Farmed animal welfare laws must do more than protect every animal from neglect and cruelty, and minimise their suffering; they should actively promote a positive state of health and wellbeing.

You can add your voice here to help us reach enough supporters to be heard by the European Commission.