Fight Cruelty

What Is a Factory Farm?

large group of hens

A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of the animals’ welfare.

Factory farms pack animals into spaces so tight that most can barely move. Many have no access to the outdoors, spending their lives on open warehouse floors, or housed in cages or pens. Without the room to engage in natural behaviors, confined animals experience severe physical and mental distress.

Standard Factory Farming Practices

Unclean air: Waste piles up in the animal sheds, creating ammonia and dust. The ammonia irritates and can even burn animals’ eyes, skin and throats.

Unnatural lighting: Factory farms simulate unnatural day lengths to promote fast growth and desired behaviors.

Unnatural growth: Fast and disproportionate growth and production due to selective breeding causes ailments including chronic pain, mobility problems and heart problems.

Non-therapeutic medicating: So that they can survive the filthy conditions and grow even faster, some industries feed their animals antibiotics and/or hormones.

Unnatural reproduction: Many female farm animals spend virtually their entire lives pregnant, putting them under chronic strain.

Absent veterinary care: Most factory farms deny animals individualized veterinary care, including humane euthanasia.

Surgical mutilations: Many farm animals undergo painful mutilations to their tails, testicles, horns, toes or beaks, without painkillers, to make their behavior more manageable.

Shortened lives: Factory farmed animals are generally slaughtered at “market weight” well before the end of their natural life spans. In fact, most are still babies.

Damage to the Environment and Human Health

Daily life in a factory farm is one of pain, frustration and misery—and animals are not the only ones suffering. Human health and our environment are being hurt by factory farming, too.

Waste runoff from factory farms pollutes the water, land and air in neighboring communities, compromising both human health and quality of life. At the same time, these businesses consume massive quantities of precious, finite resources including water and fossil fuels.

Factory farms also endanger consumer health. Farms that are not properly maintained can be breeding grounds for salmonella and E. coli, which are passed to humans through meat, dairy and eggs. To combat these unsanitary conditions, animals are fed large doses of antibiotics—but bacteria is constantly adapting and evolving. Antibiotic abuse creates the potential for dangerous, new drug-resistant strains of bacteria to develop and spread among people.