In this 2009 file photo, oxen Bill and Lou head out to work in the field on the Green Mountain College campus farm in Poultney, Vt. (Photo: Alden Pellett AP)
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The demise of two oxen long used on a farm at a
local college has been postponed because area slaughterhouses have been
deluged with protests.
The decision to slaughter the animals and use the meat in the dining hall at Green Mountain College remains unchanged, however.
college provost William Throop had said the animals would be sent out
for slaughter by the end of October to a local facility that "works very
humanely." College spokesman Kevin Coburn later said that that the time
and location would not be disclosed.
In a statement Wednesday
evening, college President Paul J. Fonteyn said the Poultney-based
college would not be able to meet that timetable "because regional
slaughterhouses have been inundated with hostile and threatening e-mails
and phone calls from extremist groups bent on interfering with the
"These are mostly small, family operated Vermont
businesses that provide local meat for local consumers," he said. "This
is a busy time of year for them, and many have expressed fears that
their operations might be shut down by protesters if they accept the
oxen for processing."
Asked if Champlain Beef Co. in Whitehall,
N.Y., had received protests regarding the oxen, a woman who answered the
phone Thursday said, "We don't know anything about them," and then the
In Ferrisburgh, Carl Cushing, owner of Vermont
Livestock Slaughter and Processing, said his business had received 14
voice mail messages, mostly from out-of-state and some of them
threatening. The messages were to the effect that if Cushing
participated in the animals' slaughter, he would be put out of business.
said his business doesn't handle oxen anyway; it doesn't have the
equipment. He said some of the callers used the same talking points. He
suggested that those opposed to animal slaughter have more civil ways to
express their views.
Protests erupted last month after the
college announced the decision to slaughter the oxen, which have worked
on the farm as draft animals for a decade and are known by their names,
Bill and Lou. Lou came down with an injury over the summer and could no
longer work; farm managers concluded Bill would not work well with a new
partner, and they purchased a new team of oxen.
The college held a
public forum on the oxen's fate, and the decision by farm managers to
send them out for slaughter - and use the meat in the dining hall -
conformed to the college farm's model of sustainability and was approved
by a majority of the college community, according to Coburn.
petitions calling for a reversal of the decision gathered tens of
thousands of signatures, and a relatively small protest demonstration at
the college last week was met by student counter-demonstrators who
supported the decision.
The college declined an offer from a
Vermont animal sanctuary to take the animals, citing the sustainability
model and the need to feed meat-eating students in an ecologically
"We have decided to continue to care for the oxen
until a date with a reputable USDA approved slaughterhouse can be
obtained," Fonteyn said in his statement. "In the meantime, Lou and Bill
will not be sent to a sanctuary but will continue to stay with us in
familiar surroundings. Eventually the animals will be processed as
Burlington (Vt.) Free Press