Factory Farming

August 2, 2008
By Lynndsie Poole, Mesa, AZ

Our country is showered in beautiful images of cows roaming on lush green carpets of grass and chickens running freely in and out of the chicken coops; however, this image is far from the truth about farming. In reality, some of the animals are kept in small, confined, dark cages in what is commonly called ‘factory farming.’

Factory farming began in the 1920s, when vitamins A and D were discovered. After the farmers added the vitamins to feed, they soon found out that the animals no longer needed exercise and sunlight to grow. This allowed animals to be raised indoors year-round. The greatest problem about that was the quick spread of diseases. This was cured in the 1940s, the year that scientists developed antibiotics. Later on, farmers found out they could increase productivity and reduce the operating costs by using mechanization and assembly-line techniques.

Unfortunately, this has created only pain and suffering for these animals. The animals have their genes pumped with antibiotics, vitamin A, vitamin D, hormones, and many other chemicals to encourage high productivity. In the food industry, they are not considered animals; they are considered food producing machines. They are locked in small wire cages, ammonia filled air, and either artificial lighting or no lighting at all. Not only are they treated badly, they are also horribly mutilated. Some of the mutilations consist of throat slitting, beak searing, castration, and also have their feet cut off of the animals.

One of the major animals that suffer from factory farming, that many of us eat, is pork. Approximately 100 million pigs are killed every year. These animals are subject to painful mutilations. Their tails are cut to minimize tail biting, a behavior that occurs when these highly intelligent animals are kept in deprived factory farming environments. Also, notches are taken out of the piglet’s ears for identification.

By two or three weeks of age, 15% of the piglets will have died. Those who survive are taken away from their mothers and are crowded into pens with metal bars and concrete floors. The pigs live packed into giant warehouse-like sheds until they reach 250 pounds at only 6 months old.

The air in the warehouses are laden with dust, dander and noxious gases, produced as the animals’ urine and feces builds up inside the shed. Studies of workers in the swine confinement show that 60% of them have breathing problems, despite having only spent a few hours a day in the confinement buildings. The pigs have respiratory problems from spending all day in the buildings.

Modern hog factories are fertile breeding grounds for a wide variety of diseases. Modern sows are treated like piglet-making machines. They live a cycle of impregnation and birth, producing more than 20 piglets a year. After becoming impregnated, the sows are confined to gestation crates which are small metal pens, that are only two feet wide, that prevent sows from laying, turning, or laying down comfortably. After the four-month pregnancy, they are transferred to similar cramped crates to give birth. They barely have enough room to sit down or stand up and have no straw or any other type of bedding so many of the animals suffer from sores on their shoulders and knees.

After the sows give birth and nurse their young for two to three weeks, the piglets are then taken away to become fattened, and the sows are re-impregnated. An article in successful farming explains, “Any sow that is not gestating, lactating, or within several days post weaning is non-active.” When the sows finally is no longer a ‘productive breeder,’ they are sent to slaughter.

The overcrowding and confinement is unnatural and stress-producing since pigs are actually very clean animals. If given sufficient space, pigs are careful not to soil the areas that they sleep or eat at; however in factory farms, they are forced to live in their own feces, urine, vomit, and even the corpses of other pigs.

Prior to being hung upside down by their hind legs so they can bleed to death at the slaughterhouse, pigs are supposed to be stunned or rendered unconscious, but stunning at the slaughter house is terribly imprecise. Often, conscious animals are hung upside down, kicking and struggling, while a slaughter house worker tries to stab them in the neck with a knife. If the worker is unsuccessful, the pig is taken to the next part of the slaughterhouse, the scalding tank, where they will be boiled, alive and fully conscious.

Personally, I find factory faming a cruel and unusual way to kill animals, even if it is for food. Those animals do not deserve to be locked up in a two foot cage, unable to move and lay down. They should be taken care of and have the ability to be free range. I believe that their lives, however short that may be, should be happy and healthy and the slaughter of these same animals should be as humane as possible.

The author's comments:
I hope to educate the readers of all the inhumane treatment that these animals really suffer through daily.

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This article has 9 comments.

dragynheart said...
on Aug. 27 2008 at 11:43 am
This was a very well researched and written article. If there is a possiblity of it going in front of the public eye, it should be granted access. Everyone should know what they are eating and how it is being 'farmed'

Not only are we being inhumane to our food supply but look at all the toxins we have to injest once we receive the meat! No wonder the world has so many diseases to contend with. Reading this article would almost make a person become vegetarian just on princple alone. Thank you for such an eye opening experience. I for one am sharing this link with others that I know who will also think it abhorring.

on Aug. 26 2008 at 1:11 pm
This article is very well written. Very descriptive, to the point of making the reader uncomfortable, which is exactly the intent. I applaud this writer for taking on a controversial subject, but one that needs to be written about and exposed more.

Rhobin said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 11:19 am
As a senior citizen, I find it very comforting that teens are concerned about humane treatment of animals, especially those bred only for our tables. A well thought out essay.

Diane said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 10:29 am
An intelligent article about a disgusting subject. I never knew how bad it is for the cows.

Trish said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 5:49 am
This article brought tears to my eyes. Very thought provoking and insightful. I haven't eaten pork in years because of this practice and rarely eat any other kind of meat. Not because I'm a vegetarian but because I deplore the practice of factory farming. Tricia

Fishn Patti said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 5:19 am
Great article and one worth sharing with all my contacts. It's very upsetting to hear about the sad lives these poor animals live. Free range is the way to go. A

Tabs said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 2:30 am
Great article,Lynndsie, How sad that animals go through this inhumane suffering. I'm proud you spoke up against it

mizging said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 2:06 am
This was a wonderful article although on a very dismal subject. The author did an excellent job of letting the reader know the facts and kept her emotions in check while doing so. I'm very impressed.

juanita3426 said...
on Aug. 26 2008 at 1:09 am
Great reading! found out things i never knew existed.


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