WHAT IS FACTORY FARMING?
‘Factory farming' is a term used to describe an intensive animal farming operation. Other terms that may be used are ‘agribusiness', or, in the US, ‘concentrated animal feeding operations" (CAFO). It is said that two out of every three farm animals worldwide are now being factory farmed.
Common features of factory farms are the use of large windowless sheds and barren artificial environments with controlled lighting and temperatures. Animals lack space, freedom of movement and the ability to express their most basic natural behaviours. They suffer mentally and physically, and their entire lives are manipulated until they are slaughtered at just a fraction of their natural life expectancies.
Factory farming is far removed from the common perception of farming, where animals are thought to live outside, free to roam and to eat the food they are naturally suited to. If supermarket shoppers were fully aware of how animal foodstuffs are made and where they come from, they would surely think twice about buying them.
Animals are not machines
Philosophers of former eras (like Descartes) held that it was ‘unscientific' to regard animals as thinking and feeling beings; they were just ‘machines' working on instinct. But now, through advanced scientific research, we know that animals are more like us than we used to think, some with cognitive abilities equal to our own. Anyone who shares their home with a cat or dog knows how special animals are, and those animals reared for food are no different. The more we learn about animals, the more our eyes are opened to the horrors of factory farming.
Environment and health
Animal welfare is not the only issue raised by factory farming, it causes damage to the environment and our health too.
Concentrating large numbers of animals in factory farms contributes to environmental degradation from the need to grow feed, pollution from manure waste, and overuse of limited resources. High stocking density also requires increased use of antibiotics and pesticides to stop the spread of disease and infestation caused by these crowded living conditions.