Factory farming mistreats animals, cramming them together and abusing them in an effort to boost productivity.
The European Union (EU) recognises farm animals as sentient beings1, capable of experiencing suffering. Despite this, tens of billions of animals endure short, miserable lives in factory farms2, where the priority is simply to produce as much meat, milk and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Space is a luxury
To save space, factory-farmed animals are crammed together in barren pens, crates or cages, preventing normal behaviors such as nesting or foraging. This often causes the animals to inflict injuries on each other out of sheer boredom, frustration and stress3.
An egg-laying hen in a barren battery cage often spends her whole life crammed into a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper per animal.
Mutilation is commonplace
To reduce these injuries, mutilation has become commonplace, with teeth clipped, tails docked and beaks trimmed - all usually carried out without pain relief5.
The European Food Safety Authority reported that over 90% of Europe's pigs are tail-docked despite it being illegal to perform routinely.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2007)6
Fast growth is a necessity
Factory farming systems demand fast-growing or high-yielding animals, encouraged through selective breeding and the use of concentrated feed. This puts the animals at risk of developing often-painful physiological problems such as lameness, weakened or broken bones, infections and organ failure. Antibiotics or other growth-promoting treatments are used in some countries to encourage even higher yields*.
Factory farmed meat chickens grow so fast that 25% suffer from painful lameness.
*The use of antibiotics to promote farm animal growth is outlawed in the EU but legal in a number of countries, including the United States, where around 80% of all antibiotics are believed to be used on farm animals8,9.
But don't just take our word for it
…the law alone is not always strong or detailed enough to ensure that [farm animals] have a good quality of life.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) (2011)10
We wouldn't force our pets to live in filthy, cramped cages for their whole lives, and we shouldn't force farm animals to endure such misery, either.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (2011)11
Factory farming mistreats animals. By taking action against factory farming, we are not just creating a food and farming revolution; we are also helping to stop an inhumane way of producing food that leads to the cruel mistreatment of billions of animals.
How a factory farmed chicken really lives
A chicken raised for meat in a typical intensive broiler house will have a short, cramped and painful life. In under six weeks they will grow rapidly from a small chick to their hefty slaughter weight. They've been bred for such rapid growth, but this doesn't mean that their bodies can cope with it; instead they suffer from painful lameness as their legs struggle to keep up with the pace of growth. As they grow larger, the shed where they are kept with thousands of other chickens becomes more and more cramped and those that are lame struggle to reach food and water.
'Legs bowed from the pressure of its unnatural weight, the chicken sits lifeless in its own ammonia-soaked detritus, waiting for the blissful release of death. Days later, it will be stacked on a supermarket shelf, the telltale burns on its legs the only clue to its short, hellish existence in one of the many 'broiler houses' that supply low-cost chickens to…shoppers.'
The Sun, 20071
'[M]ore than 200 million chickens reared in Britain every year suffer deformities because of the appalling way they are raised... The problem stems from the fact that selective breeding has produced chickens that grow at a super-fast and unnatural rate. Today, factory farm chickens grow to slaughter weight of around two kilos - or just over 4lb - in just 38 days, which is more than twice the growth rate of 30 years ago… the pace of growth means the chickens' legs simply cannot cope and so break and buckle at the joints, causing pain and making it difficult to move. As a result, many birds will suffer skin burns and infections because they are trapped in the mess on the barn floor. Others cannot reach water or feeding points and so suffer from thirst and hunger in their last days before slaughter.'
The Daily Mail, 20062
'New evidence presented to Defra reveals that, with notable exceptions, fast-growing strains of broiler chickens are as prone to leg disorders as ever. Moreover, research from Bristol University shows the problem is worse than we thought. Birds that appear only slightly lame will select food containing drugs to ease their pain. All lameness hurts.'
The Independent, 20083
- The Sun, 2007, Jamie's Factory Farm Campaign
- The Daily Mail, 2006, Horror of 200m Chickens Raised in Agony
- The Independent, 2008, Consumers Have Power to End This Cruelty
- EU (2011), The EU and Animal Welfare: Policy Objectives
- CIWF (2011), Stop Factory Farming for the Planet
- WSPA (2006), An Overview of Farm Animal Welfare Issues
- CIWF (2011), Welfare Issues for Egg-laying Hens
- FAWC (2011), Mutilations and Environmental Enrichment in Piglets and Growing Pigs
- EFSA (2007), Scientific Report on the Risks Associated with Tail Biting in Pigs and Possible Means to Reduce the Need for Tail Docking Considering the Different Housing and Husbandry Systems
- CIWF (2005), The Welfare of Broiler Chickens in the European Union
- USFDA (2009), Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals
- USFDA (2009), Sales of Antibacterial Drugs in Kilograms
- RSPCA (2011), All About Farm Animals
- HSUS (2011), Cruel Confinement