Suffering common for animals in factory farming

Factory farming – for profit not compassion

The factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to produce the most meat, eggs and milk as quickly and cheaply as possible, and in the smallest amount of space possible. Animals are kept in small stalls or cages, often unable to turn around. They are fed growth hormones to fatten them faster and are genetically bred to grow larger or to produce more eggs or milk than wild animals. Because crowding creates a prime atmosphere for disease, animals on factory farms are fed and sprayed with huge amounts of antibiotics and pesticides.

Now consider what happens to these animals …


Chickens have their beaks cut off with hot irons (without anaesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet.

Approximately 20 percent of hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease 1. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years) 2. Take note that 90 percent of all commercially sold eggs come from chickens raised on factory farms 3.

More than six billion ‘broiler’ chickens are raised in sheds each year 4. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of antibiotics and pesticides, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria 5.


Cattle are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anaesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care.


Calves raised for veal (the male offspring of dairy cows) are the most cruelly confined and deprived animals on factory farms.

Taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, they are chained in stalls only 55 centimetres wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. Since their mothers’ milk is usurped for human consumption, they are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anaemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak.

When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement 6.


With pigs, 90 percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined 7.

Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal ‘iron maiden’ stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tail biting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviours when kept isolated and confined. Pork producers lose 100s of million of dollars a year due to dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming 8. Approximately 30 percent of all pork products are contaminated with toxoplasmosis 9.

1 – Factory Farming, United Animal Defenders, Inc., p.3.
2 – Mason, Jim and Peter Singer, Animal Factories, p. 5.
3 – Poultry Digest, July 1978, p. 363.
4 – Animal Factories, op.cit., pp. 6-8.
5 – Burros, Marian, ‘Clinton Plan Would Move Meat and Poultry Inspections to F.D.A.’,  The New York Times, 13 September 1993.
6 – Factory Farming, op.cit., p. 2.
7 – Animal Factories, op.cit., p. 8.
8 – Ibid, p. 76.
9 – Dubey, J.P., ‘Toxoplasmosis’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 189, No. 2, 1986, p. 168.