The trend of replacing small family farms with “factory farms” numbers has a devastating impact on animal life, the environment and our health. The following is a brief snapshot of the conditions that billions of animals every day are exposed to in our modern factory farming systems:
Denial of space
To increase profits, factory farms cram the maximum number of animals possible within the space available. Animals have their basic natural instincts to move, explore and mate denied, as they are confined in crammed spaces for their entire life. Chicken spend their life in a space of approx one A4 sheet of paper, cows are tied to a single spot for their entire life, while mother pigs in gestation & farrowing crates do not even have the space to turn around.
When raising hundreds of animals within a small confined location, even basic hygiene is typically neglected. The accumulation of wastes generated from their urine & faeces within their living areas, leads to a build up of toxic chemicals in the air, causing a constant stench and a number of associated respiratory & skin diseases.
Conditions in factory farms expose animals to a number of diseases: Lack of movement and unnatural weight gain, causes weak bones, osteoporosis, fractures and lameness. Build up of ammonia leads to respiratory & skin diseases. The stress caused by living conditions & denial of natural instincts leads to psychological disorders, including cannibalism. A large majority of animals in factory farms live their entire life, with one or more serious health conditions that are never treated. They remain in chronic pain or severe illnesses for prolonged periods of time.
Mutilations and abnormal growth
A combination of genetic modifications, specifically designed feedstock and growth hormones are used to make animals grow unnaturally fast. All of the above are unnatural processes with strong adverse implications on animal health. The vast majority of animals that are eaten for food, are in fact children who have unnaturally put on weight to resemble a much older and larger animal. Poultry chicken are killed within 6-8 weeks, goats within 3-4 months, pigs within 8-10 months and beef cows within 12-13 months of age.
Animals get extremely stressed and frustrated due to the intense confinement, toxic living conditions, denial of natural instincts and the high rates of diseases in modern factory farms. As a result, some of them get aggressive and attack the other animals. To prevent losses from animals harming each other, animals are subjected to painful body mutilations at very early stages of their life.
For chicken beaks are cut with blunt blades, horn buds of cows and goats are burnt off with hot searing irons, cows and pigs have their tails cut and tight iron rings are put around the testicles of male cows and goat for them to wither and fall of. All of these body mutilations are undertaken on animals who are either a few hours to a few months old, without any painkillers or medication.
Forced repeated pregnancies without recovery periods
Similar to humans, giving birth puts a lot of strain on the mothers body and she ideally needs a period of recovery post every birth. However, in factory farms, artificial insemination is used to re-impregnate mothers within a couple of months of giving birth. This allows animals to be consistently pregnant improving milk and baby animal yields, while reducing the period when the animals are lying useless (not pregnant).
What happens to the male child in the dairy & egg industries?
The dairy & eggs industries are dependent on animals giving birth. Male babies are a useless waste products of this process and not cost-effective to keep alive. Male calves (waste product of the dairy industry) are either sold to the beef industry, starved to death in front of their mothers or simply abandoned to fend for themselves on the streets. Male chicks (waste product of the egg industry) are ground alive, gassed or suffocated to death in plastic bags the day they are born.
To reduce transportation costs, animals are crammed tightly into tiny cages, tempos and trucks. Packed in as tightly as they are, they end up injuring each other inadvertently. Animals are denied water or food for the entire journey, or a space to defecate. Frightened, sick and exhausted, these animals are transported in all weather conditions without shelter from natural elements. A large number of animals collapse and die in the process.
In any slaughter house, whether modern or traditional, animals are made to stand and watch while their companions are killed in front of their eyes. There is blood and guts of previously killed animals everywhere on the floor and the terrified animals are made to stand in it awaiting their turn. Slaughterhouses looking to maximise profits, try to kill as many animals as fast as they can. This leads to carelessness in the methods used to kill them. Often half alive animals end up being disembowelled or skinned before they lose consciousness.