Demand USDA end cruel research on lambs!

July 1, 2015

Send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to end this outrageous research.

In January, The New York Times shocked the nation with its exposé of disturbing experiments at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska. The MARC, which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, (USDA) is funded by tax dollars and conducts experiments on animals used by the meat industry to enhance production and purportedly improve meat quality.

The front page article, by journalist Michael Moss, described decades of horrific research that inflicted massive suffering on animals, leading to premature death, starvation, painful manipulations and, in some cases, outright neglect. All of these were revealed after a former veterinarian at MARC came forward and blew the whistle on the rampant animal cruelty he witnessed while working there for years.

One of the worst shockers to come out of the expose was USDA’s “easy care” lamb project. This research project seeks to determine whether it is possible to minimize monitoring of newborn lambs, with the goal of producing lambs that could be successfully raised without much intervention, thus cutting costs.



A lamb abandoned by his mother. Credit: Michael Moss/The New York Times

The tragic outcome was lambs born in open fields, abandoned by their mothers who were ill-equipped after centuries of domestication that has led them to depend on human support.  Newborn and young lambs died in droves due to starvation, exposure and predation by coyotes.


Lambs in the “easy care” experiment who died as a result. 
Credit: Michael Moss/The New York Times


The Times article also described other experiments, in which animals’ bodies were driven beyond natural limits to overproduce offspring. Sows were manipulated to give birth to abnormal numbers of piglets, up to 14 in one litter (the normal is eight) that led to numerous piglets’ deaths. Cows too, were forced to bear twins on a regular basis that led to congenital malformations and intense suffering for the mothers. 

Outraged, American taxpayers and legislators pressured Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to call for an immediate investigation. On March 9, less than two months after the New York Times article appeared, USDA announced that new research at the Nebraska facility would be suspended pending implementation of changes recommended by an independent review panel.

The panel’s report was disappointing in its failure to directly address prior animal abuse and neglect, but it did recommend better staff training and adequate institutional oversight, all of which were found to be lacking.

Very disturbing however, was the disclosure that while other research projects at the MARC had been suspended, the pasture lamb project will continue!

Please use the form at top to contact USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to demand he immediately stop this cruel “research” on lambs!




The taxpayer-funded “easy care” lamb program is an outrage that must be stopped. Abandoning newborns to see if they can survive without shelter and minimal human intervention causes pointless suffering and death for helpless baby animals, forcibly brought into a world that deliberately abandons them. It demonstrates the ultimate in a ruthless cost-benefit attitude that accepts and even increases animal suffering and death in the name of profit.