The green pastures
and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories.
On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into
filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other
confinement systems. These animals will never raise their families,
root in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural to
them. They won't even feel the sun on their backs or breathe fresh
air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.
Animals on today's factory farms have no legal protection
from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or
cats: neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, and drug regimens
that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather
extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter. Yet farmed animals are
no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and
cats we cherish as companions.
The factory farming system of
modern agriculture strives to maximize output while minimizing
costs. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and
other animals are kept in small cages, in jam-packed sheds, or on
filthy feedlots, often with so little space that they can't even
turn around or lie down comfortably. They are deprived of exercise
so that all their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs,
or milk for human consumption. The giant corporations that run most
factory farms have found that they can make more money by cramming
animals into tiny spaces, even though many of the animals get sick
and some die. Industry journal National Hog Farmer
explains, "Crowding Pigs Pays," and egg-industry expert Bernard
Rollins writes that "chickens are cheap; cages are expensive."
are fed drugs to fatten them faster and to keep them alive in
conditions that would otherwise kill them, and they are genetically
altered to grow faster or to produce much more milk or eggs than
they would naturally. Many animals become crippled under their own
weight and die within inches of water and food.
suffering of all animals on factory farms is similar, each type of
farmed animal faces different types of cruelty.
- Chickens killed for their flesh in the United States are bred and drugged to grow so quickly that
their hearts, lungs, and limbs often can't keep up.
- Hens used for eggs live six or
seven to a battery cage the size of a file drawer, thousands of
which are stacked tier upon tier in huge, filthy warehouses
- Cattle are castrated, their
horns are ripped out of their heads, and third-degree burns
(branding) are inflicted on them, all without any pain relief. .
- Cows used for their milk are
drugged and bred to produce unnatural amounts of milk; they have
their babies stolen from them shortly after birth and sent to
notoriously cruel veal farms so that humans can drink the calves'
- Mother pigs on factory farms
are confined to crates so small that they are unable to turn
around or even lie down comfortably.
- Fish on aquafarms spend their
entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from
parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries.
Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the
fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food.
- Turkeys' beaks and toes are
burned off with a hot blade. Many suffer heart failure or
debilitating leg pain, often becoming crippled under the weight of
their genetically manipulated and drugged bodies.
When they have finally grown large
enough, animals raised for food are crowded onto trucks and
transported over many miles through all weather extremes to the
slaughterhouse. Those who survive this nightmarish journey will have
their throats slit, often while they are still fully conscious. Many
are still conscious when they are plunged into the scalding water of
the defeathering or hair-removal tanks or while their bodies are
being skinned or hacked apart.
Take a stand against cruelty
to animals: By switching to a vegetarian diet, you will save
more than 100 animals a year.