Factory Farms

By Syd York

Factory farms, or the practice of intensive animal husbandry designed to maximize production while lowering costs, is the number one way in which we obtain animal products for consumption in America. Although this process is a quick way to feed the human population, factory farms are harmful to the environment, humans, and especially the animals. The amount of animal cruelty put on the livestock is harsh. Routine mutilations, extreme confinement, overcrowding, and manipulation are only a small handful of the extreme practices.

Pigs, chickens, and cows are commonly seen in factory farms. Chickens are compacted in dirty cages together in overcrowded cages. Instead of fresh air, they breathe ammonia from the amount of feces built up around them. Respiratory diseases, bacterial infections, keratoconjunctivitis, dehydration-induced ailments, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, heat prostration, osteoporosis, cancer, and crippled legs are only a few of the many diseases and symptoms chickens can receive. It’s the same case for layer hens. Once a chick has hatched, they are put on a conveyor belt to determine if they are male or female. Since layer hens can only be female, the male chicks are placed in trash bags and suffocated, decapitated, gassed, crushed, or ground up alive. The rest of the female chicks are debeaked, or get their beaks cut off. Don’t let free-range or cage-free eggs fool you. Although the chickens do receive some ground to walk on, the space is extremely overcrowded and quite small. There is still no fresh grass, natural setting, or outside air. 

As for dairy cows and the dairy industry, the cows are forcefully impregnated, tortured, and killed. Since cows must give birth to a calf to produce enough milk, they are routinely raped in order to keep production going. They produce 10 times more milk than what they would produce in nature, and have their calves taken away from them at birth. Soon that calf will replace the older dairy cows. There are a handful of diseases the cows are prone to as well. Mastitis (a bacterial infection of the udders), Bovine Leukemia Virus, Bovine Immunodeficiency, Johne’s Disease, milk fever, metabolic disorders, such as ketosis and laminitis, birth defects caused by Bovine Growth Hormone, and udder ligament damage are only some. Once a dairy cow is 3 to 5 years old, they are slaughtered for hamburger meat…in nature, they live up to 25. 

Like dairy cows, pigs are kept pregnant continuously. Once forcefully impregnated, they are kept in 18 to 24 inch wide pens or crates which barely give them enough room to stand or lie down. Bedding is too expensive, so the floor is usually made of concrete. Once a piglet is done giving birth and some of the piglets fatten up, they are taken away from her and immediately impregnated again. If a pig can’t keep up with the routine breeding at a rapid pace, she is killed. Due to the amount of stress put on the pigs, some resort to cannibalism. At only six months, piglets are slaughtered in brutal ways for their meat. 

In the end it is good to educate and acknowledge the practices done on animals in factory farms, whether you stop consuming animal products or not. 

Due to the ‘secretive’ nature of factory farms, there are not always many images that can be found. Here are a few: