Animal Cruelty in Factory Farms
Sometimes, it’s the things which are the most common which are the most difficult to notice. One of the most central aspects of our society, which is almost never talked about, is the pervasive confinement and slaughter of hundreds of millions of animals every year.
Most people in North America and Europe eat animal flesh every day. We wear clothing made from their skin and fur, and sleep on beds stuffed with their feathers. We consume the milk from their mothers. And most of the time, we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.
The farming of animals is one of the largest and most powerful modern industries. The demand for animal products is enormous. And supplying that demand is the horrific world of factory farming. The lives of the animals born into this system are brutal, cruel, and short. They are mutilated, mistreated, spend their entire lives in confinement, and are then killed when still young.
Chickens have become the most popular form of meat in the United States. Every year, 9 billion chickens in the U.S are slaughtered for their meat. Just in the United States, nine billion chickens.
- Young chickens regularly have portions of their beaks sheared off with a hot blade.
- Most chickens spend their entire lives indoors, in cages, rubbing constantly against metal bars and other chickens.
- Often, an individual will have only an area smaller than the size of a standard sheet of paper — hardly larger than their bodies.
The lives of egg-laying chickens is no better. They are forced to continue laying until they are considered “spent”, and then they too are slaughtered.
- Egg laying chickens are also debeaked, without any anesthetic. Chicken peaks are full of sensitive nerves. The pain is likely long term.
- Over 90% of egg laying chickens in the United States are kept in battery cages. These cages have been banned in the European Union. Chickens kept in the cages can never stretch out, they can never spread their wings, and they can barely turn around.
- In order to stimulate egg production, chickens endure forced molting, a process by which they are intentionally starved for up to two weeks.
- Even eggs labeled “cage free” usually come from extremely over-crowed chickens which have been debeaked and live their entire live in a warehouse. The image above is a cage-free facility.
- There is very little oversight or regulations over what constitutes “free range” eggs. Chickens on “free range” farms often have very little access to the outdoors, and only for very short periods. They still spend most of their lives in warehouses.
Over thirty million cows are slaughtered in the United States every year. They are killed for their meat, and their skin is turned into leather for shoes, belts, jackets and furniture.
- Calves are separated from their mothers before they are one year old. This is extremely stressful for both the mother and the calves, who cry until their voices are hoarse.
- Cows are subjected to mutilations including dehorning, castration, tail docking, and branding, all without anesthetic.
- In the U.S, cows are subjected to growth hormones to increase their rate of growth. Within just six months of being shipped to a feedlot, caws can reach the desired weight of 1200 pounds.
As with egg laying chickens, the cows which produce milk may suffer even greater hardships, as they live longer lives before slaughter.
- Like humans, cows only produce milk when pregnant or nursing. Dairy cows must be kept constantly cycling through pregnancies and births, with little rest between cycles.
- The bovine growth hormones (BGW, first licensed by Monsanto) given to dairy cows has been linked to health problems, including extreme chronic and painful inflammation of the udders.
- Cows today are forced to produce more than double the amount of milk they produced just 50 years ago.
Pigs are highly social, curious and intelligent animals. Every week, two million pigs are killed in the United States. The European Union kills five million pigs every week.
- Most pigs are kept in factory farms, where they live their entire lives indoors, confined in cages.
- Pigs confined to warehouses stand and lie on a floor of slats over top of pits. In this way, they are forced to live their whole lives above their own wastes.
- Most mother pigs, or “breeding sows”, are kept in “gestation crates” for the duration of their pregnancy. In these cages, the pregnant pigs cannot lie down properly or turn around.
- When they are ready to give birth, the pregnant pigs are moved to “farrowing crates”, designed to restrict the mother’s movements so severely that she cannot accidentally crush the piglets (a problem pigs do not have naturally). Her only options for movement are to stand up or lie down.
- Piglets are taken away from their mothers after only three weeks. They are then castrated and spend the next 6 months of their lives confined in pens until they are slaughtered.
- Breeding sows are forced to undergo 2.5 pregnancies per year, each lasting nearly 4 months.
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. We don’t like to consider the harsh reality of the cruelty these animals endure, but we can make a difference. Factory farming exists because of the demand for meat and animal products, and because we turn a blind eye to the abuse which takes place on these farms.
Consider transitioning to a vegetarian, or even a vegan lifestyle . Not only will you save lives but you will be indulging in new and delicious options which contribute to a healthier you and planet. See our Ways to Help and Resources pages for more information on how you can make a positive impact on the world.