Inhumane Practices on Factory Farms

The rearing of farm animals today is dominated by industrialized facilities known as confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs (often referred to as “factory farms”) that maximize profits by treating animals not as sentient creatures, but as production units. Raised by the thousands at a single location, animals are confined in such tight quarters that they can barely move, let alone behave normally.

  • Four or more egg-laying hens are packed into a battery cage, a wire enclosure so small that none can spread her wings. Being held in such close confines, the hens peck at each other’s feathers and bodies.
  • Pregnant sows spend each of their pregnancies confined to a gestation crate - a metal enclosure that is scarcely wider and longer than the sow herself. Unable to even turn around, sows develop abnormal behaviors, and suffer leg problems and skin lesions.
  • Growing pigs are confined to slatted, bare, concrete floors. Stressed by crowding and boredom, they frequently resort to biting and inflicting wounds upon their penmates.
  • For veal production, young calves are confined to wooden crates so small that the animals are forced to lie in their own excrement and are unable to even turn around.
  • In factory dairies, cows spend their entire lives confined to concrete. To boost production, some cows are injected with the growth hormone rBGH, leading to lameness and mastitis, a painful infection of the udder.

In order to facilitate confinement of these animals in such stressful, crowded, unsanitary conditions, painful mutilations like cutting off the horns of cattle, cutting off the beaks of chickens, and docking the tails of sheep, pigs and dairy cattle are routinely performed.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Alternative, high-welfare farming allows animals raised for food to have a life free of unnecessary pain and suffering, and the opportunity to exhibit normal behaviors.