Animals used in agriculture
For animals used in agriculture, more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day, and aquatic animals are not included. According to one estimation, 64 billion land animals are killed each year worldwide, and over the same period some 1,000 billion fishes die of suffocation in fishing nets.
Protection for the welfare of fishes, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, rabbits, and other common species used for food are relatively weak compared to wildlife or companion animals, and the law always has exemptions for animals used in agriculture. They suffer from the cruel practices in factory farming and slaughter process, and their animal welfare is poorly protected.
Anti-speciesism requires people not to treat these animals as food, things, or products, just because of their species. Their welfare and own interests shall be well-considered and protected as other species.
Taking the Animal Welfare Act of the United States as an example, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not cover some species. The definition of animals in AWA is “any live or dead dog, cat, monkey (nonhuman primate mammal), guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or such other warm-blooded animal, as the Secretary may determine is being used, or is intended for use, for research, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes, or as a pet; but such term excludes (1) birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research, (2) horses not used for research purposes, and (3) other farm animals, such as, but not limited to livestock or poultry, used or intended for use as food or fiber, or livestock or poultry used or intended for use for improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, or production efficiency, or for improving the quality of food or fiber.”
The exclusion for birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research means these species can be less protected than warm-blooded animals in the research or animal testing. The exclusion for horses is because horses are covered by the Horse Protection Act.
Farmed animals used for food or fiber purposes are not covered by the AWA. These species are used, suffered, and killed in the largest numbers of the population. The rationality behind the exclusion is thinking these species should be raised and used as food or fibers in nature.
Other cold-blooded vertebrates and invertebrates are not covered by the AWA as well. These include the species of amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crustaceans, insects, etc. These species are treated as inferior species to warm-blooded animals and without the ability for perception.
From the perspective of anti-speciesism, the discrimination above in the Animal Welfare Act is unreasonable. Cold-blooded vertebrates and invertebrates have the ability to feel pain, and some species are not born to be used for food, fiber, or research. The protection for animal welfare shall not be judged based merely on their species.