Public and environmental health is being severely threatened
through the institution of animal factory farming, which pollutes
our water, air, soil and even our bodies with harmful chemicals
Conditions Inside Animal Factory Farms
Corporations now have taken over the practice of family farming
and have developed cost-saving mass-production strategies
that are not only dangerous to public health, but are also
cruel to the animals being processed.
Animal factories, also known as large confined animal feeding
operations (CAFOs), go against traditional farming practices
by treating the animal simply as a machine or production unit.
These farms are more like an assembly line system of animal
harvesting than anything resembling a genuine farm or ranch.
"Factory farming has taken the joy out of the lives of millions
of calves and pigs, and billions of hens; it has driven countless
family farmers off the land; it has polluted streams and rivers;
it has injected massive amounts of antibiotics
and other drugs into the public food supply resulting in serious
health risks. It has lowered food quality," says Christine
Stevens, author of the book Factory Farming, The Experiment
To understand the conditions present in these factory farms,
you must first examine what the animals in these factory farms
are eating. The factory farmer has redefined what constitutes
animal feed in a 'bottom line' effort to save money. They seem
to care little about the health or the happiness of the animal,
and instead treat it like a product. The low quality standards
placed on animal feed by these "farmers" prove that little consideration
is being taken towards the animal or the consumer.
For example, some of the "ingredients" commonly used in animal
factory feed include:
- Excessive grains -- Abnormally high amounts can make the
animals sick, especially natural grass eaters like cattle.
Their bodies are not designed to handle a corn-rich diet;
as a result, these animals can form liver abscesses and
excessively acidic digestive systems.
- Plastics -- For the many animals whose digestive systems
still need roughage to move food through, these factories
have turned to the use of plastic pellets instead of plant-based
roughage to compensate for a lack of natural fiber in the
- Meat from members of the same species -- The factory farming
industry is turning farm animals into cannibals. Scientific
research has linked this practice to the spread of both
mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE)
and avian bird flu.
- Manure and animal waste -- This can include cattle manure,
swine waste, and poultry waste. It can also contain wood,
sand, rocks, dirt, sawdust and other non-food substances.
- Animal byproducts -- This is often categorized as "animal
protein products" and may appear as rendered feathers, hair,
skin, hooves, blood, internal organs, intestines, beaks
and bones. These may also include dead horses, euthanized
cats and dogs, and road kill.
- Drugs and chemicals (including dangerous antibiotics)
-- Drugs are frequently implemented in order to fight disease,
control parasites and reduce animals' stress from overcrowded
living conditions. However, the antimicrobials used on some
poultry promote the accumulation of arsenic inside their
bodies. This is a highly carcinogenic chemical that can
then contaminate the water supply near the farm, or emerge
in the meat later eaten by consumers.
Millions of pounds of antibiotics are used on factory farm
animals every year. These antibiotics are grossly overused
and are especially dangerous because they aid in the development
of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
With Yet More Animal Torture
Factories of Despair
Factory farm animals endure great suffering through the entire
process of being housed, fed, transported and slaughtered.
Approximately 95% of factory-raised animals are subject to
deplorable conditions such as overcrowding, hunger, thirst
and sometimes-fatal weather extremes. Many times, they are
kept conscious or even skinned alive during the process of
According to interviews with slaughterhouse workers included
in Gail Eisnitz's book Slaughterhouse, the end of an
animal's life is a torturous and abusive process. One employee
elaborates on the abuse that animals endure by reporting,
"On the farm where I work, they drag the live ones who can't
stand up anymore out of the crate. They put a metal snare
around her ear or foot and drag her the full length of the
building. These animals are just screaming in pain. The slaughtering
part doesn't bother me. It's the way they're treated when
they're alive. Dying animals unable to walk are tossed into
the 'downer pile,' and many suffer agonies until, after one
or two days, they are finally killed." Animals such as cows,
calves, pigs and chickens are made to live truly horrible
lives, however short, while being housed in factory farms."
The Routine Torture Of
Milking cows are treated like machines; confined from all
other animals including their calves, they are made to stand
on concrete floors in their own waste. In order to manipulate
genetics and produce more milk, farmers pump the cows full
of chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, many of which may
make their way into the milk we drink and the cheese we eat.
Just like beef cattle, many of these cows suffer from disease,
reproductive problems and lameness due to the stress of the
factory setting. They produce milk for about eight or nine
years until they are no longer able, at which time they are
slaughtered. One of the most frequently cited reasons for
having to send a cow to slaughter, however, is mastitis --
an excruciating swelling and irritation of the mammary glands
caused by bacteria.
It's not only the adult animals that are treated cruelly:
taken away from their mothers shortly after birth, male calves
are most often raised for veal from the day after they are
born. For anywhere from three to 18 weeks, they are kept chained
by the neck in dark, cramped stalls, unable to move in any
direction. They are fed a diet consisting mainly of a milk
substitute that promotes rapid weight gain but low enough
in iron to cause anemia, thus keeping the flesh pale. Many
of them suffer from lameness, pneumonia and diarrhea. White
veal consistently has been found to contain residues of carcinogenic
Beef cattle don't have it much better. Many are sent to live
in overcrowded feedlots where they are given an average of
14 square feet to roam after being castrated, dehorned and
Pregnant pigs, also known as sows, are confined to metal crates
that are a mere two feet wide. This constriction renders them
unable to satisfy their own basic psychological needs or engage
in almost any natural behavior. This causes a great deal of
stress and suffering for the animal, many times enabling her
to do little more than stand up and lie down. The sow rarely
even has the capacity to full extend her limbs or turn around.
This is a process that the sow must go through until she is
unable to have children anymore, in which case she will most
likely be slaughtered. These methods are inhumane and cause
sows to experience frustration, fear, and physical ailments
such as lameness, repetitive bar biting, soreness, head waving,
sham chewing and crippling joint disorders.
"Forced to lie and live in their own urine and excrement, the
sows chew frenziedly on bars and chains, as foraging animals
will do when denied even straw to eat or sleep on, or else engage
in stereotypical nest-building with straw that isn't there.
Everywhere you see tumors, ulcers, cysts, lesions, torn ears
-- these afflictions never examined by a vet, never even noticed
anymore by the largely immigrant labor charged with their care.
When the sows leave their iron crates after four months of pregnancy,
it is only to be driven and dragged into other crates just as
small to give birth," according to Matthew Scully, author of
the book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals,
and the Call to Mercy
. "Then it's back to the gestation
crate for another four months, and so on, for about eight or
nine pregnancies, until they expire from the sheer punishment
of it, or are culled as too sick and weak to go on."
Atrocious Conditions For Chickens
Like pigs, chickens grow up in a similar state of disarray,
forced to live through nearly intolerable conditions. Approximately
six billion "broiler" chickens are produced and sold each year
by the factory farmer to sources like supermarkets and fast
food chicken restaurants. As many as 60% of supermarket chickens
are infected with Salmonella enteritis. Another pathogen that
can be spread from chickens to humans is Campylobacter, which
can cause infection, illness or death.