Factory Farming

99% of all land animals eaten or used to produce milk and eggs in the united states are factory farmed. –(2007 Census inventory and EPA regulations)

Factory farms pose a great threat to the rights and welfare of the animals who live and die on these farms and, additionally, these facilities have a hugely negative impact on the environment.  Deliberate acts of cruelty happen at 32 percent of the factory farming plants. (Temple Grandin)

Chickens

chickens in cages

99% of chickens raised for meat are factory farmed and 97% of laying hens live on factory farms (2007 census inventory and EPA regulations). Every year, around fifty billion chickens are housed on factory farms and 180 million chickens are slaughtered in the United States. Often times the purpose for which the chickens are raised plays a role in the type of conditions they will experience. As a result of the living conditions of chickens (whether or not they are not raised in cage free facilities), 3/4 will have some degree of walking impairment and chronic pain.

Broilers: Chickens that are killed and used as meat. These birds generally live in cages that provide only 1 square foot of space, this size is typically larger than the cages of layers (see below). At 39 days of age (Chickens can live to be 15-20 years old), the birds are transported to a slaughterhouse to be “processed.” Thirty percent of the birds arriving at the slaughterhouses have freshly broken bones as a result of their transportation to the facility. 180 million chickens are slaughtered in the US every year.

Layers: Hens used to produce eggs. Often on factory farms, when the layer chicks are born they are separated by gender and the male chicks are “destroyed.” Then, the female hens are de-beaked (without anesthesia) to prevent fighting and placed into their cages. The typical living space for a layer chicken is a battery cage which are 67 square inch large cages that are many times stacked in windowless buildings.

Cows

factory-farming

78% of beef cattle and 60% of dairy cows are factory farmed. (2008 NASS Report) Similarly to chickens, cows have different uses in the factory farming industry.

Dairy Cows: Because of genetic mutations and production technologies, dairy cows on factory farms produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally. In many of the dairy operations in the U.S., cows spend their lives indoors, typically on hard, concrete floors while frequently connected to a milking apparatus. They also can be injected with hormones, such as bovine growth hormone, to increase their milk productivity. Eventually, dairy cows are transported to slaughterhouses, but not before many of them become downers (an animal that collapses due to poor health and is unable to stand back up). Some undercover investigations have shown excessive cruelty towards these sick animals.

Veal: When dairy cows give birth to male cows, they are not useful to the dairy industry because they do not produce milk. So the male cows are used to produce veal. There are also some farms that solely birth and raise calves for veal. Veal calves live short lives in small, confined spaces called veal cages intended to prevent movement to keep their muscles soft. They are “processed” when they are only a few months old. Some cannot walk when they arrive at the processing facilities because their muscles are so underdeveloped.

Beef Cattle: Many beef cattle are born at cow-calf operations, where a permanent heard is maintained to produce calves for later sale. Young calves have their horns removed, without anesthesia or painkillers, and male cattle are castrated using a variety of methods.

Before slaughter, some cows are moved to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs), have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period. At these facilities, cattle (natural grass eaters) are fed an unhealthy amount of grain, antibiotics and other chemicals, plastic, the waste of other animals, and even the meat of cattle and other animals.

They are later transported to “processing” facilities. Long journeys to slaughterhouses are very stressful on cattle and contribute to the rampant spread of disease, which can lead to death. Temple Grandin’s study of the farming industry found that 1/4 of cows are not properly rendered unconscious before being slaughtered and they are awake and conscious for the whole process.

Pigs

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95% of pigs are factory farmed. (2007 census inventory and EPA regulations)

Pigs are known to be very intelligent and playful creatures. Pigs will come when called, have favorite toys, and have been observed to come to the aid of other pigs in distress. The modern factory farm sow will birth, nurse, and raise an average of 9 piglets annually in a space so small that she cannot turn around. These spaces do not let the pigs partake in their natural behaviors, and many go insane and become aggressive because of the confinement. After pigs are born, the piglets’ tails are docked and the male pigs are castrated without any anesthetic. A large percent of the pigs will die from these terrible conditions before they reach the slaughterhouses for “processing.”

Legal Battles

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Common Farming Exemptions: Common Farming Exemptions make legal any method of raising farmed animals so long as it is commonly practiced within the industry. In other words, farmers —corporations is the right word — have the power to define cruelty. If the industry adopts a practice… it automatically becomes legal.

Ag-Gag Laws: A slang term for anti-whistleblower laws designed to prevent undercover investigations of factory farming facilities. In 2013, 13 state legislatures introduced anti-whistleblower bill, all under different titles (which makes it harder to track national legislation). These laws ban taking photographs or videos on a factory farm without permission, criminalizing undercover operations on farms, and require mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.Such laws make it difficult for consumers to understand where their food is coming from. Undercover investigations have been able to expose a great amount of cruelty and are an important aspect of animal rights activism and conscious consumption.

We understand that these are big issues and can trigger a strong desire for a change that seems hard to make. But you can make a difference and you can help to absolve these problems! Take a look at our Conscious Consumers Page to find out how!

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