The traditional view of farming is green fields full of grazing animals, or animals lying in straw in barns, with hens scratching around in the farmyard. Sadly this picture is far removed from the reality of life on the modern farm. The vast majority of farm animals never see the daylight or feel the sun on their backs. Millions of animals spend their entire lives in cages, stalls or huge, windowless sheds where they can barely move. The cramped conditions in which thousands of animals can be kept in one building is known as 'factory farming'.
What is Factory Farming?
How are most pigs kept?
How are laying hens kept?
Approximately 80% of egg production in Australia comes from laying hens that are kept in battery cage systems for their entire lives. The cages are so small that they cannot even stretch their wings and are unable to perform natural behaviours such as scratching the ground, perching, dust bathing and nesting. To add, a lack of exercise couples with the intensive production of eggs results in hens suffering from brittle bones and related injuries. Not to mention, the cruel practice of de-beaking only to prevent stressed hens from pecking each other in crowded environments.
HSI India have had success working towards banning battery cages for egg-laying hens. Read more on this story here.
What about chickens reared for meat?
Industry figures show that Australia brought close to 470 million meat birds (broiler chickens) to market last year. Although these birds are not kept in cages they are still reared in very crowded conditions. Tens of thousands of birds are crammed into windowless sheds where they are forced to grow at twice their natural rate. As a result, many will suffer bone deformities and lameness before being slaughtered at just six weeks old.
Are dairy cows kept intensively?
Yes. The modern dairy cow is being pushed to breaking point to produce ever more milk. Dairy cattle frequently suffer from painful mastitis (an inflammation of the udder) and lameness. In order to produce milk, the cows have to give birth to calves. The male calves are transported to slaughter within weeks of birth or reared on a special diet to produce milk fed veal for the restaurant trade. Many cows are worn out by the age of five or six years.
How are fish factory farmed?
How do animals suffer on factory farms?
Animals suffer in a variety of ways on factory farms. Theses include:-
- Frustration of natural ('normal') behaviour, eg. hens being unable to perch, dustbathe or make a nest.
- Being deprived of social contact/behaviour, eg. isolation of sows in the farrowing crate.
- Overcrowded conditions, eg. broiler chickens are crammed together in huge sheds and battery hens in cages.
- Physical discomfort and pain, eg. from standing on concrete or wire mesh.
- Pushing animals to their physical limits, eg. broiler chickens being forced to grow so quickly they suffer leg problems and dairy cattle being forced to produce large quantities of milk and being worn out in just a few years.
What You Can Do
- Your concerns about the way animals are reared on ' ˜factory farms' ;
- Ask what he/she is doing to improve conditions for farm animals and to support measures to improve conditions for farm animals; and
- Ask them to support measures to improve farm animal welfare.
You can also try to avoid meat and dairy produce resulting from factory farmed animals.
Click here to visit our Farm Animal Welfare Home Page.
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