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Factory Farming: Decoded

What comes to your mind when you hear “farming”? Agricultural activities, lush green lands with crops, people working in the fields and so on. Alright, what about “factory farming”? Are you aware about factory farming? Whatever your answer is, I would ask you to read further. In this post I will explain everything about factory farming and why it is necessary for everyone to know its effects on the environment, animals and human beings.

What is factory farming?

Factory farming is farming of animals. Animals in factory farms are raised for food, skin, and other animal derived products. These farms are highly concentrated with livestock. Factory farms are an industrialized setup of animal agriculture, where animals are raised in confinement with a hidden motive.

There has been a massive surge in the world population since the last 100 years. More people, more demand for food. Consequently, the high demand for food opened the gate for factory farming. Factory farming began in the mid 20th century. It started production of meat in heavy quantities to satisfy the demand. However, it ended up creating more demand for meat by making it affordable.

Factory farms turned out to be a colossal economic opportunity because it was producing meat at a minimal cost. Hidden or more clearly, the main motive of these factory farms was profit maximization.

Factory farms rear all domesticated animals, such as cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, poultry, fishes, turkeys, ducks, and so many more. The primary objective of factory farming is production of meat in bulk quantities with minimal cost.

Harmful effects of factory farming

There are more harms than goods done by factory farming and its operations. These harms are primarily concerned with animals then the environment and byproducts of this are faced by human beings.

Exploitation of animals

Factory farming is impossible without animals. Therefore, animals are the first in line to be exploited and harmed. The living condition inside factory farms is worse than a nightmare. However, we need to go inside to come to reality.

Animals have to live in closed and tight spaces together. There is no space to roam and move. Animals are treated as mere commodities. There is no cleanliness and sanitation. The floors of farms are covered with filth, blood and other bodily fluids.

Poor animals are stacked together and injected with hormones and antibiotics for disease control and spread. They have to live in close densities, so that meat production remains high. This is not the end. This was just a glimpse of the surrounding.

Animals have to suffer physical, mental as well as sexual exploitation just to arrive at your plate. Let’s read ahead. For instance, all animals are artificially inseminated for further reproduction. If they don’t reproduce, how will the demand be satisfied? This is sexual exploitation. Animals are raped to reproduce.

Moreover, the tails of pigs are docked with clippers and without any pain relief. How would you feel if someone cut your finger, unimaginable, right? Ears of cattle, pigs, horses, etc. are notched. The animals are branded with hot iron rods. The cattle are castrated, dehorned, nose-ringed, and so on. All of these acts are done without any pain relief. This is physical abuse.

Newly born babies are separated from their mothers. In the case of cows, immediately after birth, and in case of pigs within four weeks after birth. The mother cows are considered to be milk-producing machines, and factory farmers could go to any length to get the last drop of milk. This separation of mother-child leads to mental abuse.

The beaks of chickens are cropped without anesthetic. After hatching eggs, the gender of chicks is determined. If the chick is male then, he will be tossed in a mechanical grinder or smashed or killed by breaking their necks. Why? Because male chicks cannot reproduce. The chickens are trapped in battery cages, and there’s no space to spread the wings.

Well, there’s more to this. The human decided fate of animals: Slaughter. After causing immense pain and abuse, these poor creatures are slaughtered recklessly and transported to your plate. This is the life of animals living in factory farms.

Watch this 60-seconds video to see the ground reality.


Is the pain and suffering justified for minor pleasure named taste?

Environmental damage

Livestock farming uses excessive natural resources, such as, land, water, food, etc. This animal agriculture is the cause of deforestation, wildfires, water pollution, climate change, and so on. Forests are regularly cleared away to convert it to agricultural land. Beef production was the cause behind Amazon fires.

The unhygienic conditions of these farms forces animals to stay in their own filth. Consequently, these unclean surroundings pollute the water bodies around the factory farms. Livestock produce greenhouse gases (GHG). The GHG emissions contribute to climate change. The major outcome of the process of meat production which is climate change has started to show its real face, be it in the name of flooding, storms, wildfires and so on. Climate change has severe effects on animals and human beings along with the environment.

According to FAO, livestock uses twenty-six percent of the planet's ice-free surface for grazing, whereas, for livestock feed production, thirty-three percent of cropland is used. Every year, forest land is converted for agricultural use for food and feed production for livestock which means that thirteen billion hectares of forest area are lost for this purpose. This affects soil fertility, water availability, biodiversity, and climate change. Additionally, the world's grasslands are degraded by twenty percent and this percentage is rising because of intensified animal density per area. This area is responsible for most land-use change. [1]

“More than 15,000 liters of water is required for the production of one kilogram of beef.” [2] The water is used for feed production, animal rearing and sanitation.

Animal agriculture is unsustainable and also unethical.

Human health

Human beings are prone to get affected by zoonotic diseases due to consumption of meat. COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) is one of the evidences.

FAO states:

As livestock density increases and is in closer confines with wildlife and humans, there is a growing risk of disease that threatens every single one of us: 66 percent of the emerging diseases in humans have animal origins and one or two new diseases emerge every year. Hormones and antibiotics used in industrial meat production and excess meat consumption also affects human health. [3]

John Nolt notes that cholesterol levels increase due to consumption of animal products and saturated fats. [4] It is brought forth by the research that excess consumption of red meat and processed meat is unhealthy for human beings because it can lead to mortality, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and diabetes mellitus type 2. [5]

Climate change also has an impact on human health. Nolt refers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and states that in the next hundred years, climate change will have adverse effects on the whole world population due to amplified coastal flooding, reduction in usable water, malnutrition and health hazards. [4]

Moreover, those who are employed in factory farms are in grave danger as they are in continuous contact with animals and their bodily fluids. Slaughtering of animals not only affects physical but also mental wellbeing of the workers adversely.

To sum up, factory farming is an unconventional way of producing meat in bulk. In such farms, animals are kept as a mere commodity. Their pain, suffering and life are ignored. Many individuals go for the words, such as humanely slaughtered or free-range or else. It does not matter whether an animal is killed painlessly or treacherously, killing is killing.

Killing is a murder and murder a crime.

Anyone who eats meat is equally responsible for a murder. Let’s take an example.

For instance,

A human baby is in many ways similar to an animal, such as, no talking, dependency on parents, not capable of logical reasoning, but completely capable of having feelings and emotions. Now, how will you react if the baby is killed? Please keep in mind that the baby is killed “painlessly” and “humanely”.

I hope the point is utterly clear. Killing is killing. It doesn’t matter who is killed (animal or human child) because killing is a crime and such an act is immoral as well as unethical. I know the example is disturbing, but the truth is truth.

The only way to stop this abuse and cruelty is to go vegan or vegetarian. Your this transition will save the lives of billions of animals, who are raised to be killed only to arrive at your plate. It is time to rethink our old dietary patterns and opt for a sustainable one.

Feel free to share your views in the comments section below.

Hope you have something to ponder upon now.


[1] FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 2012. “Livestock and Landscapes”, pp.13-14


[2] A. Rorheim, A. Mannino, T. Baumann, and L. Caviola, (2016), “Cultured Meat: A Pragmatic Solution to the Problems posed by Industrial Animal Farming”, Policy paper by Sentience Politics (1), p.2

[3] FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 2012. “Livestock and Landscapes”, p. 14


[4] John Nolt (2015), “Scientific Background” from Environmental Ethics for the Long Term: An Introduction, Routledge Taylor & Francis (London and New York), p.13

[5] Evelyne Battaglia Richi, Beatrice Baumer, Beatrice Conrad, Roger Darioli, Alexandra Schmid, and Ulrich Keller (2015), “Health Risks Associated with Meat Consumption: A Review of Epidemiological Studies” in International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 85 (1 – 2) 2015 Hans Huber Publishers, Hogrefe AG, Bern.

DOI 10.1024/0300-9831/a000224

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