LARGE-SCALE LIVESTOCK FARMING: I don’t sleep at home for 200 days in a year, I sleep in a sleeping bag somewhere on the farm

This series NON-HUMANS, HUMANS, CLIMATE, MACHINES views large-scale livestock farming as an area primarily related to ethics and animal rights, but at the same time draws attention to the fact that large-scale farming is a capitalist mechanism, and is the result of economic and power-related interests and pressures that allow and normalize slaughter on a large-scale. The texts try to identify a network of actors, agents and relationships that are involved in large-scale farming and present them as a complex problem.

The series is published in parallel with the ongoing campaign All Farm Animals Deserve to Roam Free. We call to end this inhumane practice by banning all cages for farmed animals. Cages are cruel.

Sign petition HERE!

The seventh contribution to our series is an interview with Radim Holovský, owner of Trněný Újezd Farm.

Radim Holovský, an owner of the Trněný Újezd Farm, talks to us on the difficulties of running a small farm in a region ruled by conventional agricultural and factory farms. On the systems that respond to demands for low prices for large quantities and are able to produce a kilo of meat for 40 crowns (1,5 EUR). On Babiš’s monopoly, excessive consumption of meat, stress caused by drought and the inspection system, monoculture farming, chemical cocktails, and our bodies, which are served these cocktails. But also on a humane relationship with animals and why it is important to pay more money so that hens can see the sky.

On “ratcheted-up” feeding, a system that is able to produce a kilo of meat for 40 crowns, and the risks of free-range farms

Radim Holovský

So, let’s take a look, shall we? Watch out, it’s all wired up! You probably got just a little shock, cause if you’d’ve gotten the normal one, you’d’ve fallen over [laughs]… So here you’ll see an alternative that you won’t find in most other places. Over here’s a breeder who’s got 60 pigs, he had them outside, he had 100 people there and they wrote it up in the Guinness Book of Records. Here we herd 200 and we don’t need to get it written up anywhere. People today will tell you: a pig pasture? No such thing! But every fairy tale had a village swineherd, he was in there because pigs grazed, it was normal and it was necessary. Today it’s been driven up to extremes: pig feeding is a system that’s been ratcheted up to try and push the animals to the most that they can handle genetically and bear in terms of health. Poultry feeding is ratcheted up so much that if you push it a little further, they start dying of civilizational diseases, heart attacks, strokes, so then they go back to a longer, more spread-out feeding schedule. All the animal can do there is eat or lie down. It’s unbelievable, the production, how it goes along. But then something gets screwed up and it all falls down like a house of cards: you’re feeding the poultry and the electricity goes out for twenty minutes in the summer and right then in the big hall with 20 thousand chickens… well, five minutes is enough.

You have to realize that hens are forest creatures, they naturally live in groups that have one rooster and ten hens. And the moment you shut 1000 hens into one hall, it doesn’t work so easy, it can’t; a horrible cannibalism takes over. The people who are lobbying for farming in big halls will tell you that they take care of the animals as best they can and make them totally comfortable. So ask yourself if a deer that lives outdoors… Today few people will come and say that they want to farm pigs in a way that’ll give them a good life and wait to see how much people will pay for it. No. They have to fit into the system. By now pig farming has been totally wiped out. The moment someone says: I want a big chain to make me a kilo of meat for 40 crowns, there’ll be a system able to produce a kilo of meat for 40 crowns and it won’t stop and take a look around, unfortunately. The chains dictate, or rather the consumers dictate, that they want to eat for free, they decide—forgive me—that they want shitty food for free and they give it to them. Order fulfilled. And if that’s the way people want it, they have to come to terms with the fact that that’s how it is, with all the stuff that’s connected to it.

The full interview download: