Animal rights groups block slaughter of Green Mountain College oxen by pressuring local slaughterhouses

Bill and Lou at Green Mountain College in Poultney.

POULTNEY — For Green Mountain College’s longtime oxen team, Bill and Lou, a trip to the slaughterhouse has been postponed.

The two draft animals have been a daily sight at the college’s organic Cerridwen Farm for the past decade, plowing and tilling the fields and hauling heavy loads of compost. After Lou injured his leg this summer, however, the animal was deemed unable to work, and the team, trained to work together for many years, had to be retired.

Animal slaughter is rarely a comfortable topic of discussion, but it was one option that school administrators presented students at a community forum that convened this fall to decide what do do with the two farm animals. The other option was to send the animals to sanctuary, but the majority of students supported the slaughter and processing option.

It was a decision that made sense given the farm’s ethos, said Philip Ackerman-Leist, farm director and professor of environmental studies. He said as students were drawing up a farm plan 10 years ago, it was vegetarians and vegans who were some of the most vocal supporters of establishing a sustainable animal agriculture system at the college. The hope, he said, was that students who chose to eat meat could gain an understanding of the life cycle and care of the animals they were eating.

“The college farm is part of the college food system,” said Ackerman-Leist. “It was intended that way from the very beginning, and that’s the path that we in the community have stuck to.”

Green Mountain Animal Defenders launched an online petition, which at the end of last week had 47,300 signatures from across the nation and world.

Just as soon as the college announced its plans for Bill and Lou in early October, however, a number of groups began to express their concern for the decision. Green Mountain Animal Defenders, a Burlington-based organization, worked with an animal sanctuary in Springfield called Veganism is the New Evolution, or VINE, to offer to take the retired oxen off of the college’s hands at no cost.

VINE, which has been vocal in advocating for the animals’ lives, has posted several open letters on their blog, arguing that hamburger meat that will serve the college dining halls for just a few months is not a worthy trade-off for the lives of the two oxen. “These two members of the Green Mountain College community have gracefully and faithfully served and educated so many, and they deserve to be honored by a retirement befitting their years of dedicated service,” VINE representatives write.

Green Mountain Animal Defenders launched an online petition, which at the end of last week had 47,300 signatures from across the nation and world. The story has been picked up by the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post.

Ackerman-Leist said groups from as far away as Australia and New Zealand have weighed in on the subject, bombarding college faculty and spokespeople with emails and phone calls, some supportive but many opposing the college’s decision. In one day recently, he said he received more than 1,000 emails about Bill and Lou.

Ultimately, this cyber outcry is what led to the college’s decision to cancel its appointment at the slaughterhouse, which Ackerman-Leist said is a small facility the college has used in the past that has animal welfare approval.

College administrators discovered recently that a list had been posted online of all of the slaughter facilities near to the college — mostly very small, family-owned businesses — and all of those facilities had received a high volume of calls and emails requesting that they refuse to slaughter Bill and Lou. So as not to cause trouble for any local slaughter business, the college cancelled its appointment until it could reschedule for a later date.

Meanwhile, following the widespread publicity of the topic, multiple groups have offered to pay the college for the two animals.

Last Thursday, VINE posted a memo to its website stating that it had secured a home for Bill and Lou at Farm Sanctuary, a national organization with shelters in California and New York.

“Along with tens of thousands of people here in Vermont and around the world, we continue to implore Green Mountain College to abide by the agricultural tradition of kindly retiring elderly or disabled work animals,” read the memo.

Ackerman-Leist said sanctuary was initially on the table for Bill and Lou, but that a main goal of the farm is to offer students a holistic view of animal agriculture from birth to death.

“Part of this is taking responsibility for an animal from beginning to end. It’s not about casting away that decision,” he said.

“We’re standing our ground, in part, because this is no longer just about Bill and Lou, no longer about Green Mountain College. It’s about the ability of Vermont to rebuild its community food systems.” ~Ackerman-Leist

Steve Fesmire, a philosophy and environmental studies professor at the college, writes in a not-yet-published article that though he is a vegetarian and drawn to the idea of a living retirement for the oxen, he stands with the college’s democratic decision to slaughter the animals as part of the farm’s commitment to sustainable meat production.

“(This) is light years away from the inhumane treatment of animals (and humans) that now dominates global agriculture,” writes Fesmire.

VINE cofounder Pattrice Jones questioned the decision-making process in an open letter to GMC parents, arguing that many of the students at the college are still too young to fully grasp the consequences and the results of their decision to send Bill and Lou to slaughter.

What’s more, she added, “students did not anticipate that likely outcome … because they were provided with biased ‘information’ in the deliberation process.”

Fesmire and Ackerman-Leist detailed student trips to slaughterhouses and ongoing campus-wide and classroom-based discussions of life and death on the farm. The ethical dilemmas of animal agriculture, said Ackerman-Leist, will be present for as long as animal agriculture exists.

“The notion that we’re going to eliminate livestock agriculture is very problematic, illusory in my view,” he said.

Ackerman-Leist said this incident has reaffirmed the college’s goals of teaching sustainable animal agriculture and opening up discussion to all of the ethical questions that this entails.

“I’m fine with people disagreeing, and I’m fine with them being from outside our community,” he said. “But a lot of it is just being bullied through the Internet and social media. It’s not a dialog, and it’s not democratic.

“We’re standing our ground, in part, because this is no longer just about Bill and Lou, no longer about Green Mountain College,” he said. “It’s about the ability of Vermont to rebuild its community food systems.”

While discussion over the fate of the two animals rages on, the cycle continues at Green Mountain College: a new team of oxen, Speck and Spook, can be found working the fields at Cerridwen Farm.

Andrea Suozzo

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107 Comments on "Animal rights groups block slaughter of Green Mountain College oxen by pressuring local slaughterhouses"

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Arlene Steinberg
3 years 10 months ago
That’s right, it is not just about Bill and Lou anymore. But it SHOULD be. Instead, it is about posturing and pseudointellectualizing instead of compassion in an unusual situation. From a farming perspective, farmers do not take old draft animals and turn them into food – the meat would be tough and stringy. This is a stupid decisiojn at best. There are kind offers to give Bill and Lou a home and this would have given the college some positive publicity about their sustainability program and also how they can be humane when the situation calls for it. They are… Read more »
3 years 10 months ago
The writer is incorrect. Indeed farmers do take older animals to slaughter. As the story noted, they are destined for use as hamburger, enough for 2 months, not steaks. This outcry reveals how far our urban society has come from the reality of the food that shows up in supermarket shelves wrapped in styrofoam and plastic. Where to they think it came from? Should the college buy industrial-feedlot abused, dragged and cut up by underpaid immigrant labor hamburger instead to feed its students? That is the alternative. Slaughter is at the end of most farm animals lives, if for no… Read more »
Kate Skwire
3 years 10 months ago

This is a speciesist response and therefore, invalid, just as would be a rascist, sexist, or any other “ist” reply. You obviously see animals as inferior,less than sentient,a something as opposed to a someone.

Gail Formosa
3 years 10 months ago

THIS IS BARBARIC WANTING TO KILL THESE TWO ANIMALS AFTER ALL T THESE YRS.

Jack Carone
3 years 10 months ago
The college’s apologists are either not as intelligent as we would presume, or they are morally and ethically dishonest. To claim that they have an obligation to kill in order to honor a school course is absurd. Real life shifts, ebbs and flows with examination of values that change with the times and public discourse. In this case, a refusal to show compassion to animals who essentially were enslaved by the college, despite huge public outcry, is cold-hearted, stubborn and not worthy of someone claiming to be an arbiter of ethics. This stance is all head, no heart, and not… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
The GMC staff & students resent being “bullied” by compassionate voices around the world who simply asked for unnecessary bloodshed to be spared? Never mind that at the end of the day, neither staff nor students will end up with their throats cut and grind up as meat. WHAT ABOUT THEIR BULLYING OF BILL & LOU FROM BIRTH TO SLAUGHTER? Because slaughter is obviously what GMC wants. To make their point with the blood and death of their loyal friends who toilded the fields for them all these years. They want autonomy & freedom for themselves but contemptously deny it… Read more »
Aleksandra Stojanovic
3 years 10 months ago

A bunch of slaveholders.

Stuart Nickel
3 years 10 months ago

Is this some kind of practical joke?

“They want autonomy & freedom for themselves” ??

They’re oxen. They have no concept of autonomy, freedom or self.

Oxen are not people. They are work animals and beef cattle.

There is so many good causes in this world … you folks really need to find one and leave the good people of GMC alone.

Camilo Díaz
3 years 10 months ago

Welcome to the future! In this century is well known that animals are perfectly aware of themselves and of the world that surround them, so, go back to school and learn something before spitting medieval crap!

3 years 10 months ago
The white elephant in the room no one will acknowledge or discuss at Green Mountain College is the idea of true and honest “sustainability.” What does it mean? Worldwatch Institute writes that a meat-eating world is a losing proposition. We cannot produce enough, sustainably enough, for all humans to partake. That is just a fact. The planet’s resources would quickly be depleted. I would appreciate at least one of Green Mountain College’s esteemed administrators, professors, project directors, respected elders, or Ackerman-Leist, in particular, to honestly assess and address the ideas of “sustainability,” they are teaching at the college, considering this:… Read more »
David Zuckerman
3 years 10 months ago
However, it takes either animals or fossil fuel to produce all the other foods that we eat. No where is anyone saying that we have to eat as much meat as we do. I agree that meat at all meals is in no way sustainable. However, eating the animals that are used to sustainably raise the other vegetables (and grains) that we do eat is the most sustainable way. I farm with tractors, believe me, there are a lot of unsustainable issues there. From the fuel, to the energy costs of producing the metal and other materials to build the… Read more »
Meredith Anton
3 years 10 months ago
One of the biggest hurdles in the veganism/carnism debate is that both sides see each other as having all-or-nothing views. If we can focus the dialogue on the middle ground — the obviously egregious industrial agriculture, the reality that humans do not need to be eating as much meat as they are and that animals do possess emotions, then we can approach the more nuanced discussion of “what is sustainability?” from a higher place. Green Mountain College has an opportunity to be a forerunner on this topic. Lets begin to define sustainability instead of assuming we know what it is.
Debbie Jones
3 years 10 months ago

For the love of God please just let them retire to the sanctury. They have worked long and hard and deserve it.

PLEASE

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

And what about money? GMC kept mentioning the “economics reality” of farming yet they consistently turned down thousands of $ from people offering to buy Bill & Lou. So basically, GMC has no reservations about selling their animals to anyone off the streets for the purpose of slaughter but they vehemently object to people buying them for release into sanctuaries? GMC, $ is $. Even my local 4-H, Farmers of America groups could only shook their heads in disbelief at the news.

Stuart Nickel
3 years 10 months ago

GMC isn’t selling the animals for either purpose. They’re slaughtering them so that they can feed their community.

You don’t even understand the basic facts of the story.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

GMC can also feed your “community” with the money you get from selling Bill & Lou, actually more. They’ve sold spent hens, pigs, and lambs before no questions asked, why not 2 old oxens?
If it’s “economics reality”, why say no to good money for Bill & Lou?
So what you’re saying is: It’s ok to sell animals for killing but not ok to sell it for saving?

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Because, Stuart, here they have the OPTION to send these animals into a sanctuary, free of charge. And now, even for profit. In fact, GMC CAN SEND ANY ANIMAL(S) THEY HAVE INTO A FARM SANCTUARIES NOW & THEY WILL ALL BE WELCOME. Your whole argument of “we kill because we must” just went out the door when the sanctuary option was put on the table.

Sharon Justice
3 years 10 months ago
Having followed this for weeks, here’s the truth: GMC has cattle for sale on Craig’s List… they have gruesome photos on their Cerridwen Farm facebook page showing a mutilated, bloodied sheet in a wheelbarrow, people standing around gleefully witnessing sheep hanging from the rafters. GMC purports to have left the decision to kill Bill & Lou up to 18-30 year old students, Mr. Mulder is in the photos cheerfully loading dead sheep onto the back of a truck… This college is flawed ~ something is very wrong here… Bill and Lou DESERVE to live out the rest of their days… Read more »
Kathy Chad
3 years 9 months ago

Amen Anjie Pham. Attorney Steven Wise has documented proof that 20,000 dollars were offered for Bill & Lou and TURNED DOWN

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

The GMC forum referred to in the article was not, it seems, to decide what to do with Bill and Lou, but only to discuss the decision that was already made to kill and eat them. See: http://www.greenmtn.edu/calendar/2012/october/week-1/thursday/-food,-energy–the-environment-film-series.aspx

It should also be noted that it was GMC alumni who alerted Green Mountain Animal Defenders.

judy french
3 years 10 months ago

BILL AND LOU DESERVE TO LIVE OUT THE REST OF THEIR DAYS AT THE VINE SANCTUARY. THEY WORKED HARD ALL THEIR LIVES AT GREEN MOUNTAIN COLLEGE. THEY DESERVE TO LIVE AND AND GO TO THE SANCTUARY. IF THE COLLEGE DECIDES TO KILL THEM THERE WILL BE FOREVER NEGATIVE PUBLICITY FOR THE COLLEGE NOT TO MENTION THE PUBLIC OUT RAGE TWARDS THEM. LET BILL AND LOU LIVE.

Stuart Nickel
3 years 10 months ago

This is getting downright silly.

My best wishes to everyone at Green Mountain College. Thanks for the good work you are doing.

I’m sure that this foolishnesss will all die down in a few weeks and these animals will be sent to slaughter without incident.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

Or: Let’s hope that this foolishness will all die down in a few weeks and these animals can be given a well deserved retirement without incident.

Ben Pierce
3 years 10 months ago

On the other side of the coin, suppose they do not kill Bill and Lou….
Who is willing to go “Pick” the two cattle that have to take their place on the dinner plate?

Either way, the GMC students got to eat.

One of the purposes of sustainable farming is to know where your food comes from.

Marcia Schloss
3 years 10 months ago

But Ben, the GMC students don’t “got to eat” beef. Vegetarian protein is more sustainable, better for them and tasty to boot!

Asher Miller
3 years 10 months ago

And this is precisely what the argument comes down to, for most of the people stridently opposing GMC’s decision: They are opposed to people eating meat. Period. Which is fine, but let’s just be honest about that.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
Actually, the majority of us just feel that what GMC plans to do with Bill & Lou is unethical because Bill & Lou are supposed to be their mascots & “friends” for the last 11 yrs. Service animals who gave long years of labor deserve better than a slash on the throats, hung upside down, and ground into cheap hamburgers at the hands of those they trusted most. This is wrong lesson to teach at any place at any time, much less in Vermont in the 21st century. GMC’s not green, it’s brown. They’re not teaching progress, they’re teaching a… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
So Stuart, are you telling me that all the meat, dairy, eggs served at GMC comes from only animals that the staffs/students personally knew? I find that hard to believe. Please have some proof and documentation when you talk about this kind of stuff. We’d love to see the GMC grocery bill! And are you also telling me that none of you, your children, staff, students at GMC no longer consume anything that didn’t come from an animal that you personally knew? So no McDonalds, Burger King, Ben & Jerry, or Shaw’s. How admirable. Please post a picture of your… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Stuart, if GMC really want to teach sustainability & lessons for the 21st century in an advanced nation, then it should: 1) Offers veg options on campus and teach its students that v*ganism is a viable and green choice for modern life. 2) Always choose to not shed blood whenever there’s a choice. 3) Have respect and compassion for the old, lame, or weak, especially when they have given their time in service to the community.

(Protecting Bill & Lou should be the same as protecting the rights of our elderly, our servicemen & animals, our Veterans.)

Stephanie Thigpin
3 years 10 months ago

Well stuart nickel, I think Bill & Lou would beg to differ about their impending murder being considered “silly” or “foolishness”! What an uncompassionate human you are. I hope when you are no longer useful your children send you to your “retirement” without a moments thought! And this will not be dying down, in fact it is gaining momentum & people like you with your cruel disposition will not silence us! Green Mountain college is a cult, not an institution of higher learning, but an institution of intensified indoctrination. Sustainable animal agriculture is an oxymoron.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Acutally, you & GMC are teaching your children the dangerous ethics of UNSUSTAINABILITY where millions of other non-human species have no place in your world unless they serve your purposes for meat, work, research, or entertainment. Once their usefulness is gone, so should they be killed, even when offered other options. Not at the end of their natural life but at the end of their useful life to you.
This is nothing new. It’s not green, it’s brown. GMC’s teaching you & your children same old, same old but calling it a different name.

Jim Busch
3 years 10 months ago

Well that’s your opinion and your entitled to it.

Mary Finelli
3 years 10 months ago

“My children understand the difference between a farm animal and a human.”

What they, and everyone, needs to understand is the similarities between people and other animals. We are all sentient – capable of experiencing pain, pleasure and suffering. We don’t need to eat meat (see: http://tinyurl.com/9gktnh3 ) and since obtaining it causes harm to animals -and the environment- there is no moral justification for it.

Rebecca Gould
3 years 10 months ago
I deeply hope Bill and Lou are spared. I also deeply hope that eating meat is something we can all start stepping away from (which doesn’t mean that everyone instantly has to become a pure vegetarian or vegan for life, just that we make the effort to tip the balance AWAY from meat-eating). Moving away from meat-eating demonstrates compassion for the lives of our fellow animals AND it simply makes good sense because of the strong ecological/global warming/poverty arguments that demonstrate the ecological and economic detriments of eating meat. AND, I also deeply hope that we can treat one another… Read more »
Sheryl Rapee-Adams
3 years 10 months ago

Becky, as a vegan, I very much appreciate your speaking out from the omnivore-moving-toward-veg perspective, and as a Middlebury College prof. Bill and Lou need diverse voices speaking out on their behalf. As long as they continue to live, there is hope.

Debralyn McPhate
3 years 10 months ago

The excuse of sustainability is moot.If it was all about sustainabilty of the project, $50,000 would have gone a long ways. Large donations have been offered to GMC to allow these oxen to go to the sanctuary.
GMC sells livestock on Craigslist to sustain its project. So why not Bill and Lou?

The administrators hang up on people calling, do not answer emails, or respond to Steven Wise requesting a debate over this issue.

Debralyn McPhate.

Aleksandra Stojanovic
3 years 10 months ago

Eating meat has been an error for a long time and still is. Meat makes us sick to body and mind. Meat is just an old narcotic. We are herbivores naturally.

3 years 10 months ago

I’d love to see some factual basis for the statement that we are “herbivores naturally.” There is none, of course. Do we chew cud? Are we ruminants? Did our ancestors not slaughter sheep, ox, goat and sacrifice lambs? There is no doubt INDUSTRIAL agriculture is harmful to the environment. Not so small sustainable farms. People should choose what they want in an educated fashion. If they want to be vegetarians, fine, but impose your view on others is hardly the way to go about it. Rational argument might work but from what I’ve seen here, there’s precious little of it.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
Very easy to prove you’re built like an herbivore, Andrew. 1) Do you have fangs & claws to naturally take down an animal or do you need EXTERNAL aids like guns, knives, and bows? 2) Are most of your teeth pointy or flat? Pointy for tearing flesh, flat for chewing & grinding. 3) Are your intestines very long (like that of cow) or very short like a cat or tiger? The reason so many people in America & the Western world have high rates of CONSTIPATION & CANCER is because animal protein takes a long time to be digested and… Read more »
Cheryl Pariseau
3 years 10 months ago

Really? Really?? Humans are obligate omnivores. Eating meat is the reason humankind has had evolutionary success. When humankind started eating meat then learned to hunt. Hunting required communication, use and manufacturing of tools as well as tactical planning. All of this required a larger brain, which meat eating made possible. Overall the argument against meat eating is an emotional one, which avoids reason
and grasps at straws t0 support the emotion.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Cheryl, please see my answer to Andrew above. Your body will thank you for returning it to its natural state.

Sara Peace
3 years 10 months ago
Don’t you think that Bill & Lou have earned a happy retirement after all their years of loyal service. In England there are farms that use Slaughter free milk, called Ahimsa Milk. The males calves are used to work the land when they are two years old, and this earns them a right and a place to retire, they have earned it. The same applies for the dairy cows. the milk is a little more expensive, but so much of that is towards their retirement, a bit like a pension scheme. It’s not right that you should just be able… Read more »
Charlie Pardieck
3 years 10 months ago

AMEN to the protest efforts of the compassionate! I am so proud to be a part of such a nation! United we stand & can move mountains!

Sage Aron
3 years 10 months ago

These animals have been kept to work as slaves for the college. I think they deserve a retirement plan. Is college now about destroying ethics? What type of farming ethics do they teach? Small farming with a conscience or agribusiness$$ bottom line only? From what I see, agribusiness behaves as a psychopath. Is this the ethics model they teach students in 2012?

Candice McMillan
3 years 10 months ago

If it were just ‘animal rights’ activists protesting the slaughter, they would be dead by now. GMC has a bigger problem, and that is that average people, not otherwise involved in animal rights, see a problem with this picture. It appeals to people’s sense of fairness and compassion.

Naomi Mignone
3 years 10 months ago
Release Bill and Lou to retirement at VINE. They have worked long and hard for GMC. They have been worked into the ground and cannot work any longer. Now that they are OLD and DISABLED GMC wants to BRUTALLY SLAUGHTER THEM!!! What an ungrateful, hard-hearted, unreasonable group of people you are!!!! The sanctuary has offered money to save Bill And Lou from this blood-thirsty slaughter and give them the retirement they have earned. LET BILL AND LOU GO TO VINE!!! You know you are wrong to consider slaughter. That is why you rudely hang up on callers and refuse to… Read more »
Naomi Mignone
3 years 10 months ago
Where did my comment go? I see you are publishing the comments of Stuart. GMC needs to let Bill and Lou go to sanctuary at VINE. There is no excuse to slaughter them. They have worked hard for 10 years and have earned reirement. GMC wants to slaughter Bill and Lou because they are OLD and DISABLED and can’t work any longer!!! This is unethical, cruel, and bloodthirsty. It is extremely rude for GMC administration to hang the phone up on callers and refuse to answer emails. Let Bill and Lou go to VINE for retirement. They have earned it.… Read more »
Melinda Boreland
3 years 10 months ago

If you are going to teach these students about sustainability then for heavens sake don’t keep the animals working for you for 10 years and give them names!!! It is like killing and eating a pet! Teach these students that there is always room for compromise and there is certainly room for compassion. Please let these lovely old gentlemen go to a quiet, loving retirement. Does life always have to be about profit?

Beverley Covert
3 years 10 months ago
Everyone. Please keep up the pressure on GMC to release Bill and Lou! The pysdo intellectual blather appears to come from a source whom fantisizes to be more than what they really are. The true personality,morallity and ethical behaviour of this group is reflected by their actions. Noteably,a high handed,arrogant,rude (see video of demonstration) stubborn, mind set that naturally,they are right,and 47,300 people from around the world are wrong. After all, what do these people know compared to GMC? Sadley,this comes down to one frame of thought and action by GMC… I want what I want,and I will do what… Read more »
L.D. Zafar
3 years 10 months ago
It is a shame that Stuart is teaching his kids to be as unsympathetic and uncompassionate as he is. Just what we really need in this world…. we already have enough of these kind of people. You also notice your comments are definitely in the minority, this should indicate something to you my friend. This is not black and white situation carved in stone that you have to follow lest ye violate some rule in sustainability here. “Standing your ground”, as if you have something you have to prove to yourself and everyone else is quite arrogant. This story is… Read more »
Jackie Maxwell
3 years 10 months ago
OMG your so cruel and heartless. Parents get blamed for not teaching children right and wrong. There you are influencing the next generation that killing these hard working animals is OK. They have names and have been part of the college. Animal cruelty is rife and you are adding to it. You should be teaching compassion in farming and not encouraging heartless ignorant people. Let them go to a sanctuary, what have you got to lose, nothing. You’ve been offered money, take it and hold your head high. You don’t even have to admit your wrong. This is doing your… Read more »
Mary Morin
3 years 10 months ago

I think the college would do better for itself by allowing these animals to live out the rest of their days at Farm Sanctuary. If they don’t they will have succeeded in making many more people angry, more than the few who care to see the “cycle of an animal’s life”. C,mon haven’t Bill & Lou deserved a rest??

Andrea Hayward
3 years 10 months ago

Save bill and Lou, they both deserve a safe retirement.

Janine Taylor
3 years 10 months ago

Sell Bill and Lou to a sanctuary. Use the money to buy (or even better, plant some) vegetarian sources of protein: beans, pulses, veggies etc… Make bean burgers for your students… Tastier, healthier, cheaper per burger than meat… Nobody dies, everyone is fed, healthy and happy. True sustainability!

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

This is a great idea, Janine! This might be an opportunity for learning & introduction of veggie options to the folks at GMC.

Ben Jones
3 years 10 months ago
This is just another great demonstration of the ignorance in regards to gmc. GMC has one of the most progressive dining halls in the academic realm. There is a higher percentage of veggies and vegans that eat in that dining hall than in any other institution I know of. The fact is that you can’t force the student body to not eat meat. If you think it’s plausible to change the entire dining hall to vegan your dreaming. Show me a place that feeds hundreds of people daily a vegan diet (institutionall not resteraunt) cannot imagine there are very many.… Read more »
Paul Hannan
3 years 10 months ago

As with most religions it isn’t the practice that bothers me, it’s fanatical proselytizing that is the problem. To most of the people posting comments here vegetarianism is tantamount to a religion and they can’t bear that us heathens see their rants as absurd. OK, I confess, I’m a beef farmer, but as the troubadour Tom Rush once said, “if god didn’t want us to eat animals how come they’re made of MEAT?”

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

Would you eat the meat from 10-year old work oxen? Would you eat people, which are made of the same stuff? It is Green Mountain College that is being fanatical, as many fellow meat-eaters also have noted.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Paul, if Compassion, Generosity, and Respect for living beings can be considered a religion than i guess us veg folks are guilty. But I guess as you chose to make a living from selling blood & flesh, you probably wouldn’t understand. Just one question: “If God wanted us to eat meat, how come he made our intestines so long like that of an herbivore so meat often can’t pass through our system at all and end up rotting inside, causing us constipation, cancer, and heart diseases?”

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Paul, if God wanted us to eat meat, how come he made our intestines so long (like that of an herbivore), where meat often can’t pass through in time and just rot in there, creating constipation, cancer, and heart diseases to our bodies.

Katy Hennessy
3 years 10 months ago
The decision to slaughter Bill and Lou to keep within a mandate of teaching sustainable animal husbandry overlooks the cost to the environment of keeping the animals in the first place. The cost in water, over the past ten years, has been so exorbitant that I have often thought, while following this story, that the college must hold a personal grudge against Massey-Ferguson and John Deere. I also agree strongly with the position that the students of this college are not old enough to understand the consequence of killing these two animals. In that regard, the students are not being… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Wow, so true! Indeed, what about tractors and other modern farm machineries that can even run on bio-diesel?
Is GMC teaching “sustainable farming” in 21st century America or “Farming 101 in the Dark Ages” anyway because it certainly sounds like it.

deepthi ajay
3 years 10 months ago

Pls save Bill & Lou

jean thornley
3 years 10 months ago
Not many people i fear have any trouble these days understanding the disgusting cruel connection from farm to fridge,so no more excuses stand by the right principles this time and do not slaughter these faithful old creatures,their lives are not yours to take,we are no longer ridiculed as being useless cranks for our beliefs that murdering innocent animals is wrong,we are fast becoming a way of life that one day soon will be as normal as this life of blood letting that we have been brain washed into thinking is right and just,all that remains now is to thank you… Read more »
Grace Gershuny
3 years 10 months ago

The volume and vehemence of this discussion is a little scary. I recommend that anyone who believes in the ‘fact’ of unsustainability of meat eating should read the book “Meat: A Benign Extravagance” by Simon Fairlee. There you will find real facts about the whole system that GMC is to be applauded for implementing.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of victims – human and nonhuman alike – of the prevailing industrial food system in need of something more than compassion and outrage – they need you to support humane, ethical, democratic models of a better way.

Renée Carpenter
3 years 10 months ago
Thank you Grace, Andrew Nemethy, Dave Zuckerman and others who have tried to reason and explain. While I grow my veggies by hand, I do eat local meat–raised on grass that often grows on hill farms less conducive to other crops. I appreciate the compassion expressed by folks who do not yet understand the larger picture (have any of you grown a soybean, turned it into soy milk and/ or tofu? That was one of my first exercises as a vegetarian back in 1975 when I lived on rocky Ozark soil). Please, study up so you truly understand what sustainability… Read more »
Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

See #6 in Pattrice Jones’s comment below: http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2012/11/04/national-animal-rights-group-blocks-slaughter-of-green-mountain-college-oxen-by-pressuring-local-slaughterhouses/#comment-43279

What-aboutery (as they call it in Britain) is not an argument but an attempt to avoid argument. Pointing to greater harms or needs does not lessen this one.

barb latifi
3 years 10 months ago
I think people are glossing over the fact that these service animals are no different from the police and army dogs, race horses, and the like that are allowed to retire and even produce more healthy good stock from that retirement. Animal rights activists and vegetarians/vegans all have valid points, but the issue here is about compassion and caring for animals that have served the community without question for 10+ years. We allow other “famous” animals to retire because they’ve made their owners a lot of money and are used to produce further off-spring. Is this no different for Bill… Read more »
Karl Riemer
3 years 10 months ago

“used to produce further off-spring. Is this no different for Bill and Lou?”
Well, maybe a little different. Look up ‘ox’ in a dictionary.
Or ask any teamster about yoking two bulls.

Ben Jones
3 years 10 months ago

How could someone in good conscience spend 50k on two oxen when you could take that same money and prevent the death of many African children. Seems like misplaced compassion to me.

Alex Richards
3 years 10 months ago
This is nothing more than heartless barbarism cloaked in academia. There is not a single legitimate reason why these two best friends should be murdered and ground up into “food”. The only thing this “food” will feed is the continued disconnect, the continued apathy rampant in animal exploitation. The violence, disregard and disrespect GMC plans to visit on these gentle, loyal, giving souls is not a lesson in forward thinking or higher education, but rather a lesson in staid and stale status quo. If the administrators of GMC go through with taking the lives of Bill and Lou, despite offers… Read more »
Annette Smith
3 years 10 months ago
I have a pet cow at my small farm who needs a home. Her name is Lily of the Valley. She is a 10 1/2 year old Jersey and a beautiful creature with a gentle temperament. I milked her by hand for eight years. Earlier this year I retired her and am now milking her daughter. I have never had a pet cow before, and now that her calf is ready to go into the pasture with her mom, I’m ready to find a home for LIly. In the past I have placed the older milk cows with herds, where… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
Lily sounds lovely. Annette, you’ve profitted from Lily for many years as well as her daughter(s). There are farm animal sanctuaries around, please get in touch with them to arrange something for her. It’s a kind idea to now retire her with them for the next 10 years if you can no longer care for her. (Cows can live up to 20 yrs. or more.) You can choose to take a little from the profits she’d earned you all these years to now donate a little to her care at the sanctuary or none at all, I’m sure they wouldn’t… Read more »
Kim Moncavage
3 years 10 months ago

Annette – please contact me. I’m not sure I can help with Lily but I may be able to. I would need to know a little more about her.

3 years 10 months ago
pattrice jones from VINE here, but these are my personal opinions, not any kind of official statement from the sanctuary. I appreciate the care with which the Digger journalist crafted this piece and also the quality of the ensuing discussion. I notice a disturbing shift in the latest reason GMC is now giving for their continuing refusal to allow Bill and Lou to retire. To summarize, here are their past arguments, in the rough order that we heard them: (1) it’s a matter of economics [undercut now that people have offered many times more the worth of the low-grade meat… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago
Hi Patrice! Thank you for offering Bill & Lou a safe home at VINE in the first place and for summarizing all the issues in this case in clear numerical points above. I’ve been shocked to see this kind of disturbing sustainability reasoning from GMC in Vermont, a state that I had thought was progressive. However, perhaps there’s still a good compromise and teaching opportunity for all involved. If GMC agree to retire Bill & Lou to VINE or FARM SANCTUARY, will our veg community there be able to take the full amount that was offered for Bill & Lou… Read more »
3 years 10 months ago
I’m curious why some folks posting here feel that adult-aged college students working on a farm would be too young to understand the implications of slaughtering and eating farm animals? This seems a far more minor issue than, say, voting for the president of the United States. Perhaps they are too young to understand the complex issues of governance, and we should also take away that right? Let’s remember that the student body voted on this issue; that should close it if we respect the democratic process even a tiny bit. I think the folks from out of state and… Read more »
Karl Riemer
3 years 10 months ago
“I’m curious why some folks posting here feel that adult-aged college students working on a farm would be too young to understand the implications of slaughtering and eating farm animals?” Well said. Notice anthropomorphizing oxen and concomitant juvenilization of deeply-engaged college students, libelous to both. Strong feelings are afoot here, yielding some intemperate language and unsupported accusations. The underlying assumption on both sides seems to be that holding a differing opinion or viewpoint must demonstrate moral or mental defect, at best be dim-witted. This is not a foolish debate with an obvious right answer. It’s a clash between world views… Read more »
isobel hogton
3 years 10 months ago

this should not even be an issue . where are the mps or state senetors? where are the employers of these men. the human and correct action is to send them to a sanctuary it wont make anyone ill and will give good relations and feeling the silly men who cant get past their own power. if this is power is not very valuable

isobel hogton
3 years 10 months ago

in all good respect this should not be an issue. the humane action is send the boys to a sanctuary

Annette Smith
3 years 10 months ago
So nobody has taken me up on my offer to place my pet cow Lily yet. While thinking about it, I realized there are some other aspects of cattle ownership to throw into the mix that may not be considered by those who want to save cows from slaughter. I once traded my older milk cow, Floreal, for hay, and the farmer who took her trucked her a few miles down the road. She got “shipping fever” which is pneumonia. She never recovered. Trucking is stressful to animals, so are new environments, something to keep in mind when advocating transporting… Read more »
Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

Annette, it sounds like the best thing for Lily would be for you to keep her.

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Annette, I replied to your previous post, please check. I am against long-distance animal transports for all the reasons you mentioned regarding their suffering and ill-adjustment, EXCEPT for HUMANE reasons (to bring them to a better life, haven, sanctuary, shelter, food, or medicine.) It’s great you mentioned how complex cattles are and should be treated with care as they deserved! It’s inexcusable for farmers to routine cart their animals off to be displayed/shown many many miles away with nothing to reward them at the end except butchering.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 10 months ago

Anjie, Annette does not really seem to be interested in saving Lily, only in sniping at those who would save her and Bill and Lou from becoming pet food.

3 years 10 months ago
While it is important in this debate to focus specifically on Bill and Lou and their plight (and hopefully their escape), it is also important not to make the debate so exclusively about Bill and Lou that the larger ethical context in which Bill and Lou and their plight figure is forgotten or downplayed. There is a long human tradition of singling out for special favor one cow or one human slave from the fate suffered by all the other cows on a farm and all the other slaves on a plantation or in a concentration camp. We cannot desire… Read more »
Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Thank you, Karen! I truly appreciate hearing your voice on the matter, bringing further perspectives to the situation of Bill & Lou. United Poultry Concern (UPC) is one of the best sanctuaries out there for chickens and all our farm feathered friends! Thank you for your tireless effort to educate the next generation about a more compassionate way of life!

Jim Busch
3 years 10 months ago

“well that’s your opinion and your entitled to it”.

L.D. Zafar
3 years 10 months ago
Stuart I do not think you have many friends, so count the few you have as a blessing. You ARE in the minority, look at the wave of people voicing their opinion from all over the world unless u can not count. Or unless you can not read either, you should read my words as they were written, not with your twisted understanding of what you think I said. These animals were not raised the same way as regular animals used as meat, you do not have the same kind of relationship with them, they are never perceived or thought… Read more »
Karl Riemer
3 years 10 months ago
Again, just a procedural point: anytime anyone is tempted to think the preponderance of comments to a blog constitutes an accurate apprisal of public opinion, take a trip over to the Burlington Free Press and a gander at the pinwheel paranoid chorus that appends their articles. There’s no shortage of people eager to express an opinion, any opinion, but the world is a big place. 10 or 1000 or 47,000 opinions can be trivial or significant depending on context. In some contexts only 1 opinion counts. Not to try to dampen this discussion but a question worth asking is: what’s… Read more »
Bruce Cunningham
3 years 10 months ago
anyone ask a dairy farmer about this issue? I did. Dairy cows have a limited productive life on a dairy farm and they do not go to a dairy cow retirement home at the end of that productive life. Many Dairy farmers know their cows well enough to name them and recognize them on sight and can tell you about their individual personalities. They truly care about these animals and treat them well – but if they kept them beyond their productive life and continued to pay for feed, shelter, and vet care, it would likely soon eliminate the small… Read more »
Keith Wyman
3 years 10 months ago
BULLY – bul·ly noun \ˈbu̇-lē, ˈbə-\ a blustering browbeating person; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker So who is the Bully here? GMC, VINE, Vegans/Vegetarians? All of the above? None of the above? As much as some people here disagree with the decision that was made by the GMC Community, one thing has been forgotten, it is their decision to make right or wrong. The community made the decision now let them live with it. I am specifically not coming out pro or con to the decision. I am saying they made now let them live… Read more »
Nick Young
3 years 10 months ago

GMC student Maxx-Hock. How proud the school must be. He posted this photo to his Facebook page:

Anjie Pham
3 years 10 months ago

Great update & local video from Vermont about the issues involving Bill & Lou:
http://blip.tv/for-the-animals/99-green-mt-college-animal-abuse-6420752

Robert pattern
3 years 10 months ago

There is no reason to slaughter these precious animals. You folks are your common variety 10 year old schoolboys. I feel sorry for your own children and Granschildren They have have your blood in their veins.

3 years 10 months ago
I have a simple question: if we do not need to kill and consume animals, why do we do so? There is no need for us to consume animal products in order to achieve optimal health. Conservative organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association, agree that a vegan diet can promote excellent health. And animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. The very best justification we have for imposing suffering and death on these animals is that they taste good. We enjoy consuming animals and animal products. But if that rationale works, then Michael Vick can justify dog fighting. He enjoyed… Read more »
Sharon Justice
3 years 10 months ago
If you need just one reason NOT to send your children to GMC, read the immature, defensive comments of “Robert” and “Stuart”. These are the stellar reps of GMC’s student body that are also posting on their fb page. As you gather life experience, you will regret these comments. As employers search the internet while making hiring decisions, good luck! Bill & Lou are the “victims” here, not the college, definitely not the students (please don’t list GMC on your resume’s, kids…)…. The administration who should be in charge of the college, are allowing students to make a life or… Read more »
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