The majority of farmed animals live short, uncomfortable and unnatural lives, designed to return the maximum profit for the producer and the retailer whilst keeping prices nice and low for us.
Around two in every three farm animals are factory farmed – that’s over 50 billion every year. These intensive systems create vast quantities of seemingly cheap meat, milk and eggs. The real cost is that animals are treated as commodities and are often raised in intense confinement.
Whilst we traditionally think of animals grazing and foraging out on the pasture, the reality is very different. Life for the vast majority of farm animals is typically spent in barren crates, pens or cages which prevent them expressing natural behaviours, such as nesting or foraging. It is common for animals to injure each other out of boredom and stress. To reduce these injuries, mutilation is a standard procedure – teeth are clipped, tails are docked and beaks are trimmed without any pain relief.
Selective breeding and concentrated feeding is used to encourage fast growth and high yield. This commonly leads to animals developing physiological problems such as lameness, infections, weak or broken bones and organ failure.
Many people think that dairy farming involves less cruelty than meat farming. In fact, most dairy farming involves huge stress and trauma for the cows during their short lives, both in terms of the unnatural quantity of milk they are forced to provide and in the removal of their calves shortly after birth. The prospects those calves are rarely bright – for most males and unwanted females it involves immediate slaughter or a short spell in veal production. For the dairy cows, mastitis and lameness are common companions.
The reality of intensive farming is a story of everyday atrocities that the industry is keen to keep out of view. If you are interested in finding out what really goes on behind the closed doors of factory farms check out Compassion in World Farming’s website www.ciwf.org.