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Abuse On Factory Farms

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Abuse On Factory Farms[edit]

Factory Farming, also known as intensive farming involves the production of livestock in a large industrialised system of high numbers in indoor conditions with the intent to maximise production at minimal cost.[1] [2]. The livestock at the forefront of the intensive farming industry are beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens [3]. Since 1950, traditional animal production methods have intensified, seeing the introduction of the indoor confinement system of agriculture in countries such as the United States and Australia. The ethical treatment of animals on factory farming sites has of late been an issue for the government and public due to the housing and health conditions as maximising output while minimising costs has been at the animal's expense [4] [5]. Consumers are unaware that 95% of the livestock dispatched each year in America alone has been grown on factory farms in dim, overcrowded, artificial and unnatural environments[6]. The financially successful industry has thrived on consumer's ignorance and lack of awareness, which lead to the rapid increase in the scale of demand for meat, dairy and eggs[7].


The laws towards livestock animals are defined by government policies, however they do not come under the welfare of companion animal legislation as livestock are seen as animals for production purposes. The cruelty towards industrially farmed animals has been deemed acceptable and the suffering they go through for humans has no legal consequences [8].

Legislation in Australia[edit]

Under the Australian Constitution, the welfare of animals is governed by state and territory governments, with their responsibility being to set legislations for the treatment of farmed animals. The department of Agriculture plays an important role in developing the policies for the intensive livestock industry. Stated in section 9 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [9], failure to give confined animals exercise results in up to 250 penalty units, however farm animals are exempt from this law and other laws relating to animal cruelty [10]. Under the Animal Welfare (factory farming) Amendment bill it states that in 2014 the ACT legislated against certain farming practices. This included cages for eggs production, debeaking of chickens and farrowing and sow crates for pigs being prohibited[11].

Legislation in America[edit]

Animals in the food industry are the least protected animals under American Law, only having two Federal laws in place that cover transport and slaughter. These two laws exempt poultry, which make up 95% of livestock animals killed for food [12]. State laws exempt too the protection of farmed animals, however an increasing number of states have tightened the laws on extreme confinement as a result of increased public awareness. In 2018 California passed one of the largest campaigns for livestock animals to have more space in their cages, however minimal improvement to the conditions of factory farms has been seen.

The American Society for the prevention of cruelty to Animals states the federal laws as:

  • Transport: There is a law that states every 28 hours animals being transported must be unloaded for rest, food, water and fresh air, however there are loopholes and lack of enforcement of laws or low fines [13] [14].
  • Slaughter: The livestock Slaughter Act states that an animal must not feel pain before being slaughtered as a humane method of killing the animal. This however is not included for poultry or for animals killed under religious slaughter, such as Kosher and Halal. [15].

Abuse Towards Livestock[edit]

Welfare Issues[edit]

Legalised animal cruelty exists in factory farming as operators have been given exemptions from animal cruelty laws in order to conduct their business lawfully. In order to lower the cost of production, legal approval has been given to overcrowd and put animals in solitary crates for months on end with no sunlight, health checks or clean water, which alternatively increases their susceptibility to disease [16]. An animals effectiveness in the industry is measured through their ability to convert feed to increased body mass in order to maximise profits when selling their meat [17].

As stated by the Humane Education Coalition in the 'Voiceless' article on factory farms, an animals welfare was comprised through the following:

  1. Lack of space and inability to move due to large numbers permanently confined to cages[18]
  2. Mutilation of sensitive areas such as tails, teeth, genitalia, beaks and horns without adequate pain relief[19]

The World Animal Protection Organisation exposes the astounding levels of suffering on factory farming with statistics [20]:

  • 40 billion chickens are subjected to overcrowded factory farms every year
  • Barns crammed with up to 10,000 chickens
  • Animals spend most of their lives sitting or lying in their own waste
  • Piglets on factory farms have their teeth clipped or ground and tails cut off without pain relief
  • Mother pigs are confined to a metal crate the size of their body, unable to turn around or nurture young

Animal Cruelty[edit]


In response to increased demand and financial success with intensive farming, animals endure physical pain, stress, fear, loneliness and chronic boredom in the process[21]. Studies have shown that in Australia alone, over 550 million chickens have been raised and slaughtered solely for their meat. These chickens have been artificially manipulated and traumatised and are recorded to be the shortest living species consumed by humans. The legs of factory farmed chickens cannot support their large body size, which has led to starvation and dehydration as well as leaving chickens disabled in urine and faeces [22]. Due to selective breeding, artificial lighting, overcrowding, being fed other dead chickens and the non-therapeutic use of drugs, chickens reach their slaughter weight of approximately 3 kilograms within 35 days of life to be killed inhumanely [23]

Egg producing chickens, known as hens, are considered to be remarkably complex and social animals. In factory farms they never feel sunlight, get to use their wings or get to walk or socialise, as a result they suffer from weakened bones and depleted calcium levels as well as depression [24]. 1 in 6 battery caged hens suffer from untreated broken bones [25]. The process of slicing the most sensitive part of the beak with infra-red or a hot iron, known as debeaking, is done without any form of pain relief. As a result of the demand for eggs, every year over 12 million day-old male chicks are disposed of by the egg industry either being gassed to death or ground up alive in a 'macerator' as they are deemed useless.


The pig industry has destined young piglets to slaughter of their meat for human and pet consumption with a life of being treated inhumanely by workers. Procedures that are painful to the animal are carried out without adequate pain relief, including ears and tails cut and teeth through bone [26] [27]. Mother pigs are continually inseminated after each time her piglets are taken away, causing her body to physically shut down due to stress. The severe overcrowding in a confined space limits a mother pigs ability to nurture her young as she can barely move [28].


In dairy factory farming, cows are artificially inseminated to maximise birth rates each year as well as to produce extreme, unnatural quantities of milk [29]. When cows give birth, calves are separated instantly, which for a cow is highly distressing as they form strong bonds due to an astounding intellectual and emotional capability [30]. Every year around 800,000 male calves are killed before they even reach one week old as they have no benefit in the industry as they cannot reproduce. The life of a newborn calf consists of painful mutilation procedures such as branding, dehorning and castration without adequate pain relief. This then is followed by a long, stressful journey to the feedlot where they are fattened up to market weight on an unnatural diet [31]

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  1. Gyles, C. (2010). "Industrial farm animal production". The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 51 (2): 125–128. PMC 2808277. PMID 20436860.
  5. Gyles, C. (2010). "Industrial farm animal production". The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 51 (2): 125–128. PMC 2808277. PMID 20436860.