Monday, December 21, 2020

The Battle for Shechitah

Bad News For The Jews. The EU now permits member states to ban shechitah, in the name of animal welfare. Incredibly, I have seen some traditional Jews express sympathy for this ruling, saying that they can understand it from non-religious perspective. I'd like to explain why this is gravely mistaken.

Some Jewish groups defend shechitah by arguing that it is painless. I don't know if that is true or not. (Some of the "scientific" defense of shechitah seems rather dated and biased. On the other hand, I have seen various quotes from Temple Grandin saying that shechitah can be done without undue pain, and that the main issue is how the animal is treated immediately beforehand.)

But what I do feel is that an alternative strategy should be considered. Because I know of no theological reason why shechitah should necessarily be entirely painless. Furthermore, if you defend shechitah on the grounds that it has "scientifically" been proven painless, then you are effectively conceding that if science proves otherwise, then shechitah should not be done.

Instead, shechitah can be robustly defended on the following grounds: that the small degree of animal suffering is fully justified for religious benefits.

No country in the world rules that no pain may be caused to animals. When there is substantial benefit to humans, all legal systems permit causing pain to animals. Medical experimentation is one example. Farming animals for food usually involves a considerable level of distress to the animals. Modern broiler chickens have been selectively bred to grow as fat and as fast as possible on as little food as possible, but such extreme growth causes skeletal malformation and dysfunction, skin and eye lesions, and congestive heart conditions. chickens, selectively bred to maximize growth and meat yield, endure serious hardship for their entire lives. Egg-laying chickens have their beaks cut off so that they do not attack each other in the crowded conditions under which they are raised, a surgery which is likely to cause acute and chronic pain. The possible suffering of animals in how they die pales into insignificance compared to the suffering of animals in how they live. Yet all this is legal in every country, for human benefit. Belgium - the country at the forefront of the opposition to shechitah - even permits sport hunting!

Given the amount of animal suffering which is perfectly legal in every country in the world, one can only conclude that the targeting of shechitah has less to do with compassion for animals and more to do with hostility to religion.

Shechitah is the only means by which Jews can eat meat. Eating meat is a legitimate activity (animals also eat animals!), and Judaism is an ancient way of life which deserves respect. Even if shechitah does cause some brief pain to animals, it is justified - especially since the suffering is not of long duration. I think that this is ultimately the correct defense (although I will admit that I am not certain if, strategically speaking, it is the best defense to use).

At the same time, this means that the kosher meat industry certainly could improve a lot in terms of how the animals are treated before shechitah. I'm always amazed at how people who are makpid about every minutiae of rabbinic chumra are often entirely unconcerned with the d'Oraisa of tzaar baalei chaim. As Rabbi Aryeh Carmell ztz"l wrote:

It seems doubtful… whether the Torah would sanction “factory farming,” which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts. (Masterplan, p. 69)

Many halachic authorities are of the opinion that minor benefits and financial benefits, such as those obtained via factory farming, do not warrant causing pain to animals. It is true that the majority opinion is in the other direction. Still, considering that many people are fastidious to meticulously fulfill the laws of kashrus according to all opinions, such punctiliousness should surely also apply to the laws of tzaar baalei chayim. That is to say, since there are opinions which state that financial benefits (such as those enabled through factory farming) do not justify the suffering thereby caused to animals, those who are meticulous to follow all opinions should surely be consistent and refrain from consuming animals farmed in such a manner. 

Rav Eliezer Melamed discusses the topic of hens that are starved in order to then make them enter a new cycle of laying eggs. He quotes none other than Rav Yitzchak Weiss - of Manchester and then of the Edah Charedis - who says that even though there is no technical problem of tzaar baalei chaim here, someone who wants to conduct himself via middas chassidus will refrain from this. 

There should be a "glatt" push for heritage chickens rather than factory chickens. Additionally, they should be working to ensure that farmed animals suffer as little as possible, whether they are farmed for food or fur. Aside from the innate importance and value of that, I'm sure it would assist in the general campaign to defend shechitah. If the Jewish community demonstrated greater sensitivity for animal welfare than the general population, it would be a tremendous kiddush Hashem and a powerful shield against attacks on shechitah.

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52 comments:

  1. Another halachic issue with factory farmed chickens, schechted en masse, is the mitzvah of kisui hadam. The gemara is quite clear that it must be done by the hand of the schochet, after the shechitah. There are rishonim who hold that the beracha of kisui hadam should be recited only after the act is performed, rather than before, since the act of covering the blood is a continuous hamshacha from shechitah. The act of shechitah calls forth the tikun for the bird's spilled blood. Contemporary slaughterhouses shecht thousands upon thousands of chickens after one beracha on shechitah, and then at the very end all of their blood is covered with one beracha, only emblematically by the shochet's hand. This means that a chicken can be shechted hours after the beracha for shechitah, and it's blood can remain uncovered for hours until the mitzvah of kisui is done en masse, by a system far more than by the shochet's hand. This is not an issue with tzar baalei chaim but it seems quite as close to a nullification of mitzvahs. Yes the berachas are midarabanan, but kisui hadam is a mefurash pasuk, and though it may not quite be technically asur to cover ten thousand chickens' blood with one movement of the hand it is certainly a significant kula in kashrus connected to factory processing of animals, which in turn relates to tzar baalei chaim. One is goreres the other.

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    1. It’s not a kula at all. A kula would be to make a new brocho after each chicken and doing a unique kisui, when your only required to make one kisui and one brachah. Also, while it’s preferable for the shochet to do the kisui, the minhag is to honor others with the mitzvah when they haven’t yet done it. Kisui can also be done through a shliach, like all other mitzvahs.

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    2. It’s not a kula at all. A kula would be to make a new brocho after each chicken and doing a unique kisui, when your only required to make one kisui and one brachah. Also, while it’s preferable for the shochet to do the kisui, the minhag is to honor others with the mitzvah when they haven’t yet done it. Kisui can also be done through a shliach, like all other mitzvahs.

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  2. I just wanted to point out the European Commission Directive on this has always allowed a derogation for Member States to adopt "stricter" rulings in relation to stunning. This was placed into the new Directive already some years ago, largely because there were already members of the EU which banned Shechita like Sweden. There was a second derogation for religious groups to allow stunning even though the Directive itself mandates stunning. So the court was only upholding existing legislation. The issue is not therefore a problem with the EU but the trend in Member States to enact stricter legislation and to ban non stunning slaughter.

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  3. There should be a "glatt" push for heritage chickens rather than factory chickens. Additionally, they should be working to ensure that farmed animals suffer as little as possible, whether they are farmed for food or fur. Aside from the innate importance and value of that, I'm sure it would assist in the general campaign to defend shechitah. If the Jewish community demonstrated greater sensitivity for animal welfare than the general population, it would be a tremendous kiddush Hashem and a powerful shield against attacks on shechitah.
    ============================================
    Who decides on whether the trade-off in increased costs for these "glatt" chickens is one that the community could/should bear?

    How much is it likely to assist in the campaign? (why do the campaigners pick this particular area for special attention?)

    Is a deep focus/spend on animal suffering vs. human appropriate?

    No answers from me, just questions

    KT

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    1. While it is true that there is a cost associated with meat that is farmed that way, the premium for getting such meat currently adds the cost of perishable shipping. If it heritage chickens would simply be promoted as hashkafically superior, without ruling that conventional meat violates anything thus avoiding any imposed expense on anyone, the increased demand markets could viably carry Kol Foods/Grow and Behold meat, thus eliminating the shipping cost of obtaining heritage meat.

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  4. "If the Jewish community demonstrated greater sensitivity for animal welfare than the general population, it would be a tremendous kiddush Hashem and a powerful shield against attacks on shechitah."

    Do you really believe that? You mean it's not our averot that bring upon us problems from the surrounding Gentiles?

    Oh yeah. I remember how in the last two wars with Gaza the insanely humane standards of behavior of the Israeli army (standards by which no army in the world behaves) brought Israel compliments from the entire world.

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  5. This is a fantastic article. I do not know the civil laws in the EU and UK in terms of freedom of religion and its intersection with this issue. I believe that in the US such a thing as what happened in Belgium would be ruled unconstitutional by the courts. That being said, I believe the Jewish religious community needs to take into account your insights and recommendations.

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    1. " I believe that in the US such a thing as what happened in Belgium would be ruled unconstitutional by the courts. "

      Unlikely. A law simply requiring stunning would be religion neutral. The real protection in the US is that there is utterly no popular support for trying to outlaw the practices of minority religions. Look how quickly California officials acted to head off any possibility of banning circumcision just a few years ago.

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    2. "there is utterly no popular support for trying to outlaw the practices of minority religions."

      Perhaps. But look at New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo’s restrictions made police remove or disperse sukkahs in New York City. The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.

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    3. Turk Hill
      I believe your characterization of what happened over Sukkot is inaccurate. The dispersals were for large Sukkot gatherings, and I quite agree that they should have been dispersed, not for personal Sukkot gatherings. Having relatives that live in the 11230 zipcode and just a few blocks away from BoroPark I know that the religious community in those areas have been quite flagrant in its ignoring of safety protocols--i.e. mask wearing, no large gatherings. I am no admirer of either DeBlasio or Cuomo but the behavior of haredi Jews in Brooklyn has been despicable. The behavior would be far less tolerated in Israel.

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    4. @Irwin, even if true, it makes no sense to me that large gatherings for religious purposes are discouraged while bars remain open during a pandemic? On the news the other day, I saw a woman who was forced to close her restaurant in LA due to safety protocols. She is about to go out of business soon. She has spent all her life's savings on this building. Right next to her, a film set opens up a catering tent for a film crew. How is it that a film crew can dine outdoors (might as well be a sukkah) while her restaurant, also a tent, is closed for the season?

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  6. Mention should also be made of the European hypocrisy of banning shechita over alleged cruelty to animals, while allowing foie gras which involves force-feeding a goose for several days so that its liver swells to 6 times its normal size, as noted by Ben Cohen of JNS.

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  7. "one can only conclude that the targeting of shechitah has less to do with compassion for animals and more to do with hostility to religion."

    Agreed. But worse, I am convinced that this is not only anti religion but antisemitism.

    When compared to modern factory farms, shechitah is obviously more humane. It is scientifically proven to be painless. We are commanded to show compassion to animals. Deuteronomy 22:6 commands: “If you chance upon a bird’s nest along the road, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs, and the mother is sitting over the fledglings or the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young.” Leviticus 22:28 similarly says: “No animal from the herd or from the flock should be slaughtered on the same day with its young.”

    In Guide, 3:48 Maimonides explains that animals have feelings and can feel pain. Therefore, the Torah prohibits people from abusing them. (Leaving aside, for now, the fact that Rambam takes a strong stance against sacrifices when he says that G-d neither needs nor wants them but only "allowed" them as a concession). The law prohibits killing the animal with its young on the same day because there is no difference between the pain of an animal and the pain of a human since this feeling is not derived from reasoning but the imagination, a faculty that exists in all living things. Thus, the prohibition against taking the dam and its young shows companion because when a person lets the mother bird fly away she will not see her young taken, or this might prompt the person to leave the eggs in the nest untouched if the food is unhealthy altogether. More importantly, the command teaches people to have respect for all humans, for if they are capable of showing compassion to animals, how much more so will they show compassion to other human beings.

    Lastly, even if shechitah is banned in Europe, it is not entirely bad for Jews. Look at the good side. The Torah prefers vegetarians. Adam and Eve in the garden were vegetarians (giving Noah permission to consume meat only as a concession). Vegetarianism is not only healthier (increasing longevity) but better for Jewish observances. For one, you wouldn’t have to wait six hours after consuming meat for dairy. Secondly, you would only require one pair of dishes: one set for Pesach and the other for the rest of the year. Lastly, you save money on kosher meat, which, if you avoid all meat products altogether, you can’t transgress at least twenty mitzvot!

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    1. "not only anti religion but antisemitism"

      Also anti-Muslim sentiment. Sadly there are some Jews who have called for banning Halah slaughter, even though it is done in the same manner as kosher shechita and would effectively ban shechita as well.

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    2. I believe it is the Noda BiYehudah who said that Shechitah is not necessarily painless. But I do not know sources.

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    3. "Most humane" of course in terms of speed and in minimizing pain, but not "painless."

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    4. @Yosef R, It was scientifically proven that Shechitah, or at least when you do it properly, is painless.

      @Charlie Hall I agree. Though, I would add that many Muslims have also called banning for Shechitah.

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    5. The practice of shechitah is the most humane method for killing animals. They've done studies, you know. Scientific tests were done in the US and other counties to prove that animals feel no pain at this moment. The knife is perfectly cleaned. The cut smoothly severs the arteries, abruptly preventing blood circulation to the head, preventing the sensation of pain to the animal. The shochet must first examine the animal for any defenses and treat it with the utmost care. He is to kill it in accordance with Jewish law only. Lastly, he must cite a blessing that acts to recalls the reverence for all life. Thus, he is recalling that the consumption of meat is only a temporary concession (the obligation to enjoy meat on Shabbat existed only during the times of the temples).

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  8. RNS
    This is a excellent post. I always thought the argument of organisations like shechita UK are flawed. They like to quote a US scientist which says shechita is painless (she says that the animal loses consciousness due to massive blood loss) However her argument is doubtful and I believe it is not shared by the majority of scientists.I believe the consensus to be that it causes pain when the animal drowns in it's own blood after being slaughtered.
    It is however likely that it was in fact the most humane way of killing when the Torah was given, as we can see that from the halachot of the knife (it has to be extremely sharp etc). Of the course the Torah doesn't change due to this.

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  9. This is a topic I had done some limited amount of research on. 1) Many homesteading books and home farming books recommend something very similiar to Shechitah. Some of the books just shoot the animal in the head. 2) Shechitah is a humane method of slaughter. 3) Many Muslim Theologians paskin that Shechitah even when performed by the Jews is acceptable for Muslims to eat. Those Muslims who disagree do so because they argue the slaughter has to be performed by a Muslim.

    My guess is the ban against Shechitah is a combination of ignorance and or anti-muslim and or anti-Jew. It is BS, pardun the pun. ACJA

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  10. "Rav Eliezer Melamed discusses the topic of hens that are starved in order to then make them enter a new cycle of laying eggs. He quotes none other than Rav Yitzchak Weiss - of Manchester and then of the Edah Charedis - who says that even though there is no technical problem of tzaar baalei chaim...". Is it only starving Chickens ? What about other animals ? This amounts to torture. ACJA

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  11. You are making a basic mistake. The motivation here is not animal suffering. If it were, then Belgium would not have made an exception for hunting, which can be far crueler than any kind of meat slaughtering.

    The real motivation is to tamp down on Muslims in Europe, who are slowly taking over. Which is silly, because as we say in Yiddish, gornish halfen. The Jews are just getting caught in the cross fire.

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    1. re: Belgium - yes, that was the point in mentioning it.

      As far as the antimuslim theory, there is definitely is something to it. However, the rise of antireligious sentiment against one religion often spreads to antisemitism anyway; in other words, it's not that Jewish slaughtering is getting including in antimuslim decrees, but actually being anti-Jewish is something that Europeans are (probably) happy to megalgel into their antimuslim attitudes.

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    2. I agree. Sadly, it turns into antisemitism.

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  12. I would suggest that the bigger problem with modern butchery, as far as kashrut is concerned, is the commoditization of meat. The average kosher consumer is now removed from the shechita process, and only interacts with it as a premium price for buying kosher. In making meat a commodity we have distanced ourselves from whatever spiritual, ethical sensitivity that the religious rituals are supposed to engender. Industrial slaughter, as we are used to today (and I am only talking about shechita) is antithetical to the intent and purpose of the mitzvah.

    Nevertheless, as an industrial process, shechita, when done properly, is possibly a less mechanical, and more individualized (in the sense that the slaughter has closer proximity to the animal they are butchering) than other industrial processes. I think it would be in the spirit of the halacha if caps on the number of animals that could be shechted per hour/per day were introduced, in recognition of the ethical considerations related to slaughter. These caps can only improve the halachic quality of the ritual, not (just the) socio-ethical considerations.

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    1. I am going to be cheeky and comment on my own comment - and say something very controversial.

      From a Relgio-ethical perspective - being separated from the actual slaughter of the animal, what are the spiritual benefits to me, the consumer, from buying kosher meat? If I don't engage in the shechita, and don't benefit from the recognition that a life is being sacrificed to provide me with sustenance - does ritual of shechita provide me, the consumer, with any spiritual benefit?

      That being the case, is buying kosher meat from a butcher shop or supermarket, any more religiously significant than buying treif meat?

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  13. The hypocrisy here, of course, is in going after ritual slaughter in the name of reducing cruelty to animals.

    If the desire is to improve the lives of animals, why not go after more obvious examples of how they are mistreated in the meat industry? Why not force an end to close-quarters factory farming, to raising cattle on grain (which makes them sick and requires constant medication), to the questionable treatment of animals just before slaughter?

    Or -- get this! -- why not encourage people to simply eat less meat, or eat it less often? After all, European countries are big consumers of meat.

    The reason why these issues are ignored, and why the focus is on the process of shooting a metal bolt into an animal's brain before slaughter vs. not shooting that bolt, is because the debate is not about ritual slaughter at all -- but rather about scoring ethno-cultural points by making life difficult for Muslims.

    Jews (who, in Belgium and other countries, are outnumbered by Muslims by a wide margin) are just caught in the crossfire.

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  14. Boy, you really believe anything, don't you? According to your little graphic there, the average 56 day old chicken in 1957 was 905 kg, by 1978 1808 kg , and by 2005 was 4202 kg. [Which should also mean, taking such growth rates into account, that in 2021 the average size would be over 5000kg.]

    In other words, while you find it impossible to believe that an OLIVE might have changed in size over 2000 years, you are perfectly willing to believe that the size of a CHICKEN - an animal seen or eaten by millions of people every day - quadrupled, right under their noses, in less than fifty.

    Sure, RNS. We believe you.

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    1. @DF, the difference is that the chickens are bred to grow in size while olives are not.

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    2. Turk Hill - and olives are smaller today because of declining air quality, or worn out soil, or harmful pesticides. Use any theory you want. The truth doesn't matter anymore, obviously, if one just accepts everything he's told uncritically. Point is, if one can believe that chickens have quadrupled in size in less than fifty years, then its not so difficult to believe that olives have changed in almost 2000.

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    3. DF you've written some strange things, but this one takes the cake.
      One accepts/believes things based on evidence (and explanatory theory).
      There is perfectly clear evidence that chickens have grown in size (and perfectly good theory to explain why), and no evidence against it.
      There is absolutely no evidence that olives have decreased in size, lots of evidence against it, and a perfect theory to explain why the mistaken belief arose that they shrunk.

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    4. @Df - You're carrying a lot of theories in your basket. Choose one. In any case, none explain how olives decreased in size. Chickens quadrupled in size in less than fifty years because humans have bred them that way, and there is motivation to do so. Selling bigger chickens makes money. Smaller olives don't. Your explanation about soil defects reminded me of the arguments which argues that rainbows never appeared before Noah because the nature of rain was different. No evidence.

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    5. RNS - in what other area of life can you show me, from the past fifty years, a comparable size increase? The longevity and height of Men have grown by fractions, inches and years. Plant and grain size too, have grown by small fractions. So if you want to believe a large living animal has grown in that same time by an eye-popping FOUR magnitudes, go right ahead.

      A real rationalist, by contrast, rather than just believing everything he sees on google and Wikipedia, would conclude instead that the graphic is entirely fictitious, or based on numbers that have been manipulated, abstracted, or falsely weighted. It was Chesterton who said that a man who ceases to believe in religion begins to believe in anything. In your case, if you applied to "science" - on this macro issue and a good deal more - the same healthy skepticism that you now apply to Charedim, you'd be on much firmer ground intellectually and religiously.

      I resist the urge here to wish you a jocular greeting given on December 25 [which happens to be my birthday], and simply grin and say "all the best."

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    6. you really are a DF

      can you understand that the change in chicken size and the lack of change in size of olives are both supported by evidence.
      It isn't just something Rabbi Slifkin pulled out of his tushy.

      (You know, when you sound this dumb it makes me think that perhaps you are just trying to get a rise out of people like me who are irritated by stupidity and cant resist the urge to respond.)

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    7. It's not "healthy skepticism" to deny well-supported statements, published in specialist scientific journals, simply because they sound silly to you based on your complete and utter ignorance of the topic.
      Unlike humans, chickens have been selectively bred. Selective breeding can perform dramatic results on chickens, because they lay hundreds of eggs and thus there is a large pool for genetic diversity. There has also been massive investment in this because of the lucrative rewards. And the size/pace of growth increase of broiler chickens is trivial compared to various other mutations that have been achieved.
      (Incidentally, it's not that chickens are overall four times bigger at adulthood; it's that they reach a larger size at a younger age.)

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    8. Although I have no doubt that RNS is correct here, I would ask if he understands the paper well enough to say it is "well-supported evidence". From the paper (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119385505)

      "A nonlinear mixed Gompertz growth model was used to predict BW and BW variation, useful for subsequent stochastic growth simulation."

      "A novel nonlinear analysis of covariance was used to test the hypothesis that allometric growth patterns have changed as a result of commercial selection pressure."

      Do you understand these statements? Do you know what a nonlinear mixed Gompertz growth model is? Do you know what is novel about this nonlinear analysis? Did you read the entire paper and understand all the math in it? If so, kudos to you, you definitely have the right to say it is well-supported. Otherwise, you are just taking it on faith.

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    9. Hi Happygolucky,
      I am not sure what point you are trying to make here - but this is a interesting and relevant article for this discussion. It is important to read past the abstract.
      Take a look at Figure 5, 6 and 7 for the paper to understand the underlying message.

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    10. Yossi I understand the underlying message. My point was that somebody without an understanding of the underlying statistical methods has no right to claim the study is "well-supported". If you do, congratulations. BTW are you aware of any other studies showing the growth of chickens?

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    11. Hi Happygolucky,

      I am not sure I agree with your assertion. As I indicated, one can look at the data illustrated in figures 5, 6 and 7 and draw conclusions from the data about what that represents without having to comment on the statistics. While the statistics can by used to determine if two data sets are different from each other, in this case the statistics are modeling behavior over time.

      Regarding alternative references: Breeding for efficiency in the broiler chicken: A review https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-016-0398-2

      This is a literature review written in 2016. A literature review is a scoping article that tries to survey the available research literature on a particular topic. That suggest that this article would be a good starting point to assess the robustness of research in the field. Although relatively dated (2016), it has been cited 44 times. If you are looking for more contemporary articles in the field, I would start with those research papers that have cited this one.

      For your reference, Table 1 is highly relevant to our discussion.

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    12. Yossi I don't think a bunch of pictures of curves going up = well supported evidence, any more than the picture of chickens getting bigger (figure 3). If one understands them in the context of the entire paper, which includes understanding the statistics behind them, then that person has the right to draw conclusions. But thanks for the other reference, I will take a look.

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    13. Hi Happygolucky,

      Good way to ignore the evidence and other references provided. But you still miss the point, the modeling was intended to explain the rate of growth in size, not prove that the size was increasing.

      P.s. the are not “pictures”. The are graphs plotting the data. It is somewhat dishonest to minimise their true purpose by dismissing them as some form of art. If you cannot read a graph, then perhaps we have identified the real problem.

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    14. Yossi, I know how to read a graph. As you probably know, graphs themselves are not evidence of anything, without understanding the underlying data and methods.

      In this case, perhaps you can explain to me how graphs 5,6 and 7 themselves prove the point, that growth rates have gone up? What is an allometric yield curve (which these graphs are displaying), and can you explain the equation for it? Where do the coefficients in the equation come from? Also, neither the x and y axis are about time or age, but are comparing total body weight to the weight of specific parts. How is this by itself evidence for what they are trying to prove?

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  15. There's been massive investment in cattle breeding too. Are cows also 4 times as large as they were in the 50s? And your last unsupported sentence runs at cross purposes with this claim.


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    1. I am amazed at how you continue to insist that you're correct even though you obviously have never read a single book on this topic and are trashing everyone who knows about it.

      Your comparison to cows is ludicrous and demonstrates that you clearly lack any knowledge of this topic. A cow has just a few calves during its lifetime. A chicken lays many hundreds of eggs. The genetic variability provided by chickens is therefore many orders of magnitude greater. Plus, because cattle are so valuable, females have generally always been used for breeding, and therefore genetic selection has been restricted to bulls. Not to mention that growth is simply not the kind of thing that cattle are selectively bred for.

      And again: It's not that chickens reach a 4x larger size; it's that they are four times larger at a particular stage of life.

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    2. Hi DF,
      You may find these articles worth reading:
      https://genome.cshlp.org/content/7/9/910.full

      https://www.publish.csiro.au/an/AN19361
      Overcoming nature’s paradox in skeletal muscle to optimise animal production

      Nature’s paradox in skeletal muscle describes the seemingly mutually exclusive relationship between muscle fibre size and oxidative capacity. In mammals, there is a constraint on the size at which mitochondria-rich, high O2-dependent oxidative fibres can attain before they become anoxic or adapt to a glycolytic phenotype, being less reliant on O2. This implies that a muscle fibre can hypertrophy at the expense of its endurance capacity. Adaptations to activity (exercise) generally obey this relationship, with optimal muscle endurance generally being linked to an enhanced proportion of small, slow oxidative fibres and muscle strength (force and/or power) being linked to an enhanced proportion of large, fast glycolytic fibres. This relationship generally constrains not only the physiological limits of performance (e.g. speed and endurance), but also the capacity to manipulate muscle attributes such as fibre size and composition, with important relevance to the livestock and aquaculture industries for producing specific muscle traits such as (flesh) quality, texture and taste. Highly glycolytic (white) muscles have different traits than do highly oxidative (red) muscles and so the ability to manipulate muscle attributes to produce flesh with specific traits has important implications for optimising meat production and quality. Understanding the biological regulation of muscle size, and phenotype and the capacity to manipulate signalling pathways to produce specific attributes, has important implications for promoting ethically sustainable and profitable commercial livestock and aquaculture practices and for developing alternative food sources, including ‘laboratory meat’ or ‘clean meat’. This review describes the exciting potential of manipulating muscle attributes relevant to animal production, through traditional nutritional and pharmacological approaches and through viral-mediated strategies that could theoretically push the limits of muscle fibre growth, adaptation and plasticity.

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    3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263273729_The_economic_effects_of_using_heterozygotes_for_a_non-functional_myostatin_mutation_within_a_commercial_beef_production_system/figures?lo=1

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  16. Baloney. Very first hit on google - "According to a recent University of Alberta study, chickens today are four times bigger than they were 60 years ago."

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    1. What are you calling baloney? You're citing an article that proves my point!

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  17. "one can only conclude that the targeting of shechita has less to do with compassion for animals and more to do with hostility to religion."

    The more simple explanation is that there's much less resistance to banning schitah than other regulations because:

    1) The trillion dollar meat industry puts up a much bigger fight.

    2) Other regulations will affect meat prices for everyone, whereas banning shchita only affects a relatively tiny population of Orthodox Jews and some Muslims (most halal meat is stunned prior to slaughter).

    So, while ritual slaughter may not be the most egregious practice, it is by far the one that will meet the least resistance.

    (I find that for most things attributed to antisemitism there are usually far simpler explanations. However, the instinct to assume that we are being maliciously attacked is the far more instinctive response, particularly for minorities and individuals with a history of persecution.)

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