More Than Meats The Eye

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artwork
Sharon Horev
writer
Rebecca Maloof
Hormone injections in cattle are way weirder than you may think...

If you're anything like me, you may imagine hormones injected into farm animals similarly to how humans are vaccinated or given hormones themselves. This image in our minds is similar to the photo above, a vial of whatever hormone is desired, paired with a long, sharp needle jabbed into the arm or an especially fatty area on the body.

But, the truth of hormone injections in animals is quite different, and more akin to the likes of ear piercings on humans than anything else, believe it or not. 

We've all seen the images, usually depressing ones, of cattle stuffed into large cages, their signature ear cuffs on their ears, marking their status as animals soon to die. It turns out, probably most of the time, those ear cuffs are actually the hormone injections themselves. 

The controversy between added hormones to cows, and livestock, is an ongoing one. And many animal rights activists have pointed out the dangers that these injections cause to the animals. There are also concerns about the damage that these hormones cause us humans consuming them. 

Perhaps the weirdest discovery, though, is how they are actually given the hormones. Cows that are raised for slaughter, and often calves, are essentially given ear piercings. These piercings are given with a piercing gun that is basically a larger version of the piercing gun we all recognize from our first ear piercings at Claire's. These guns administer a piercing that will slowly release hormones into the animal, giving doses of hormones to the animal. 

The ethics of this procedure are murky. If you're a Handmaid's Tale fan, you know all too well the comparison made on the enslaved women's ear cuffs and the parallel that draws to the cattle industry. Regardless of your opinion, it is clear that this procedure is not what anyone would have expected, proving that there is so much about the meat industry that we know nothing about. You can rest assured, though, that your poultry and pork consumption is not affected by this; as it turns out, the use of hormones on these kinds of livestock in the U.S is illegal. 

I guess that means we can ignore the redundant "hormone-free" stamp on our ground chicken in the grocery stores? 

By Rebecca Maloof

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