Recently I watched Earthlings it is a documentary which raises the issue of factory farming and how inhumanly animals are treated on these farms. This inspired me to use this as my research assignment, find out more about it and how this affects animals, humans, and the environment. My hypothesis was, to what extent is too far for the factory farming of animals. I broke this down into three key questions; To what extent is factory farming used and what does it involve?, To what extent does factory farming impact our health, the environment, and the well-being of animals?, and what are the humane alternatives to factory farming and how can we stop it?
An investigator who works for Mercy For Animals (an organisation who specializes in animal rights) uncovered that pigs in are shocked with electric prongs in the eyes, smacked with metal pipes, kicked and stabbed for minutes while they are still conscious. I think this is a reliable source because this an official organization who deals with things like this as a living. In factory farms across the world, animals are going through a lot of pain and suffering so we get more choices on what we want to eat. In New Zealand factory farms you can find pigs, chickens, fish, cows and sheep. But throughout the world, you will find cows, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, fish, turkeys, ducks, and geese. I was shocked to find out how many different types of animals were confined in factory farms. This has made me realise that these animals are being treated like production units, rather than living breathing individuals. I don’t understand why we treat animals this badly, what happened to make us want to do this to other living beings?
Poultry, pigs and cows are the three most common animals to find in factory farms. The poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese) on these farms are never given the chance to breathe fresh air, or feel the sun on their beaks. They also live in their own excrement, urine, and vomit. Their beaks are sometimes cut off with a hot blade so that they won’t peck each other and their toes may also be removed. This happens to approximately 300 million egg-laying hens, a quarter billion turkeys, more than 24 million ducks, and ten billion broiler chickens every year. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The moral progress of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated.” I agree 100% with him, I am so passionate when it comes to things like this I absolutely hate the way animals are treated by humans. I believe this whole system is unhealthy and irresponsible and by having ‘farms’ like like this there is no humane way of killing these animals. Did you know that pigs are highly social, intelligent and sentient animals? But yet we find approximately 105 million pigs being raised yearly for slaughter on factory farms. Breeding pigs are confined to gestation crates till their offspring are born. The floors of these crates are slatted so urine and faeces fall through. These pigs have no bedding or even straw to rest on. Breeding pigs are normally slaughtered after approximately three to four years. These factory farmed pigs are normally slaughtered when they are between six and ten months old, depending on what their meat will be used for (bacon, sausages, pork, etc.). Slaughtered pigs are stunned by an electrical gun or another device prior to having their throats slit. Piglets often have their tails docked near the base, their ears notched and also their teeth removed all without anaesthesia. According to The National Humane Education Society, approximately 41 million beef cattle are slaughtered in the United States each year. However, cattle are still sometimes branded with hot irons to show ownership. Branding, is when a hot iron is placed against the animal’s skin and burning the farmers mark into the cattle’s side. Also, they have their ears pierced with identification tags, and males have their testicles cut off. Some cattle may have their horns gouged out (dehorning) to protect the animals from each other and the humans who are working with them. All of these are done without the use of anaesthesia. 9 million dairy cows live in factory farms all around the USA. Dairy cows are forced to give birth every year for three to four years until they stop producing enough milk to make them financially justifiable to the dairy industry. Dairy cows are found inside they don’t go outside to graze, they are fed and watered inside. I find the way these animals are treated is cruel and inhumane they deserve way better than what they are getting. This made me think about how effective this way of getting meat, dairy, and eggs are. I think that animals deserve a way better life than this but even changing small things to start with like giving them more freedom, fresh air, sunlight and giving them anaesthesia would be a huge step towards a more humane farm.
The term free-range simply means that the chickens are not confined to cages for 24 hours all day, every day. So when buying ‘free-range’ eggs the chickens might actually be confined in cages for 23 hours but then let out to roam in a crowded paddock for an hour. But this means they are not able to perform the behaviours that are normal for chickens and they rarely see the outdoors, their natural habitat. As you can see this isn’t all that different from caged eggs.
According to a Ted Talk by Wayne Pacelle 6-8 birds are jammed into a crate, this means that each bird has about 43cm2 which is equivalent to ? of an A4 page. They are confined to this tiny space for the 1 ½ years they are alive. Animals that are raised for food are denied basic needs like having clean conditions to live in, getting sunlight and being able to roam free in a paddock. They suffer physical and psychological disorders because of this. The spread of diseases from factory farms are escalated when waste products, including manure and the remains of animals who have died, are fed to animals who are raised for meat, dairy and eggs. This means that the factory farming industry saves on disposable costs and food costs just by using the carcasses as meat for the animals who haven’t died yet. This is just inhumane, horrible and disgusting. I don’t know what makes them think its okay to do this I know that humans would not like to be fed other humans dead carcasses and not have a choice in the matter. These animals are routinely treated with antibiotics because otherwise, they are under threat of getting ill or dying because of the cramped, and dirty conditions they are living in. Some farmers even use antibiotics to encourage faster growth. In New Zealand, chickens that are used for meat are routinely fed antibiotics to prevent Necrotic Enteritis (it’s a disease that spreads rapidly in overcrowded conditions). Compassion in World Farming in the UK says that globally, 50% of our antibiotics are used on farm animals. In New Zealand, the Green Party has said that is around 60%. I think that it is crazy and a waste that they are wasting 60% of our countries antibiotics just on things like speeding up the growth of farm animals and preventing them from diseases that we can easily prevent from giving them more space. I could understand if these statistics included the use of anaesthesia but it doesn’t they dont use it on animals. I believe that the interests of these animals play no role in the determination of their fate.
Humans health is at risk of being endangered by infectious diseases that were a major cause of death, this was before antibiotics were made. This could start happening again due to our modern farming methods. Because of our intensive and careless use of antibiotics and growth hormones, animals are having antibiotic-resistant pathogens. In the USA, 95% of their meat, dairy and eggs come from factory farms. This resistance will move down the food chain to humans, eventually human lives will be threatened.There was a study done by the Ministry of Agriculture that showed resistant bacteria can be passed to humans in meat products. But healthy animals are still being consistently doses with antibiotics. It is absurd that we are still giving these animal things that can eventually end our lives as well as them because we will all be immune to antibiotics. This makes me consider how much the factory farming system needs to be changed we are using up so much of our resources just to make antibiotics and growth hormones so that factory farmers have make more animal suffer so they speed up their production. Did you know that the U.S.D.A (United States Department of Agriculture) allows diseased animals to be slaughtered and sold for human food, this is because if they exclude these animals it would result in financial losses for agribusiness.
Factory farm impacts the environment a lot. The modern meat industry wastes huge quantity of water, because meat production is particularly water-intensive in indoor, intensive factory farming systems. The antibiotics that are given to animals to prevent the spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, animals are fed steady diet of antibiotics. Those antibiotics threaten the environment when they run off into our lakes, rivers, and drinking water. Also farmers use large ponds or lagoons to hold animal waste and this can then overflow into the waterways. Did you know one cow produces 15 times more waste than a human as you can imagine that is a lot but this is just if its living in humane, healthy and normal conditions. The way they are living in factory farms because they are overcrowded the problem is multiplied. Animal waste puts antibiotics and hormones into the ground and water, pesticides and fertilisers then get in the waterways. Nearly 70% of the world is covered in water only 2.5% is fresh water, and only 1% is easily accessible. According to www.onegreenplanet.org, factory farming uses 70% of the world’s fresh water, so this means they are using 0.7% of out our 1%, leaving us with a very small amount of 0.3% of fresh water. I believe our 1% of fresh water could be used in more efficient ways. In the world there are countries with very little to no access to fresh water, and I think the 70% of freshwater going to factory farms should be put towards those suffering countries. This would help the people who are living in those countries live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Rather then giving it to factory farms who gives animals sad, unhealthy, and shorter lives. Over 37% of the worlds methane emissions is from factory farming. It also releases harmful compounds like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that causes negative health effects for humans. There is an impact on the environment causing deforestation, draining of wetlands and the nitrous oxide emissions from huge amounts of pesticides used to grow corn and soy for the animals. Nitrous oxide pollution is worse than methane it’s 200 times more damaging than CO2. In the USA over 260 million acres have been cleared for crop fields for factory farms. So this is contributing to climate alot. Not only does factory farming impact animals well-being, our health and the environment negatively but according to www.safe.org.nz raising animals for food inefficient. Animals eat large amounts of grain, soybeans, oats and corn, but then they produce very small amounts of meat, dairy products, or eggs. It takes 10 kg of grain to produce 1kg of meat. I think that factory farming isn’t worth harming all the animals, ourselves and the environment just so we can eat meat, dairy products and eggs. There are definitely more efficient and humane ways to get meat dairy products and eggs without damaging nearly everything on the planet.
Factory farming only exists because there is a market for the products, if we don’t buy factory farmed meat, dairy products and eggs then the retailers don’t stock them, because there will be no demand for factory farmed meat. Then this cruel way will soon have to shut down because they wouldn’t be earning enough money to stay open and this sends a strong message on how you believe these animals should be treated. There are alternatives to factory farming, one is farms that have farmers who produce healthy, meat, eggs and dairy products using humane methods. Another one would be to go meat free or to reduce the amount of animal products you consume this will also reduce the demand for animals so you will be saving animals lives. You could also buy free range products andalso buy from organic farms. One more would be to get legal protections for farm animals. These legal protections wouldn’t allow meat industries to neglect cows, pigs, chickens and other animals in ways that cause contamination, illness and intolerable suffering. There are many alternatives and ways to reduce or even stop factory farming but these are the main ones I came across while researching this topic. It is absurd to believe that we would treat other living beings they way we are currently.I think most New Zealanders would be horrified to see the conditions these animals live in. Factory farming is a practice that we should all be ashamed of, it remains hidden from public view so not many people know what’s happening. This suffering continues while big industries profit from producing increasing amounts of animal products, with the true cost being borne by the animals imprisoned.
In conclusion, my findings show that currently factory farming is horrible, inhumane, and inefficient. I still believe that factory farming needs to be drastically changed for the better or stopped all together. Because I believe we all need to stop and think about what’s important to us. If we keep going the way we are going with factory farming, we are just showing the world that we don’t care about the lives of other living things, so why should they care about us, we don’t care about our own health, we don’t care about the environment and that climate change is a huge problem that factory farming is playing a big part in. Based on my research I have found so many problems with factory farming but I normally hear the comment “why does it matter if we eat meat they are already dead anyway” but the thing is they don’t realise if they stop eating meat or even cut done they will save the lives of animals who have not yet gone down this horrible, painful path. There are so many more humane ways of getting our meat and alternatives, we need to spread awareness about what is going on inside these windowless sheds.