It is often said that ignorance is bliss; however, when there are innocent lives at stake the opposite can be shocking. Since the beginning of factory farming in the 1920s, animals kept for farming have been subjected to cruel and unlivable conditions to keep up with the demands of the public consumption. Since many people are not privy to these environments, there is often a misconception that farm animals are free to live out their days in pastures and fields. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is usually the case.
Since the pressure to produce more and more animal products increases every year, farmers have been forced to resort to developing more efficient and timely ways to meet this need. One way of doing so is by injecting hormones and antibiotics into the animals to increase productivity. In the case of chickens, they are selectively bred and genetically altered to produce bigger thighs and breasts, the two parts of the animal which are most in demand. By doing so, this makes the birds so heavy that their bones can barely support them, forcing them to sit for most of their days. They are confined to small cages, and the rooms are often unlit to reduce fighting amongst the chickens. Another method they use to prevent sparring is by removing the bird’s beak and toes.
Lack of movement for animals is a common practice amongst the industry. As previously mentioned, this helps reduce fighting amongst the animals, and it also helps to inhibit muscle growth so the meat stays tender. For many animals, such as pigs, this lack of space has many detrimental effects for the creature. Many pigs become crazy from boredom, and develop impulses like mouthing and nervous ticks. These animals are deprived of companionship, and their unsanitary conditions often produce disease and illness.
Considering that the lack of space is so great in these holding facilities, any animal that will not contribute to production is disposed of. In the case of chickens, the babies are sorted at birth, and newborn males are suffocated in trash bags. The hens are exposed to constant light to encourage greater egg production. At the end of their laying cycle they are either slaughtered or forced to molt by depriving water and food, which forces them into another laying cycle. Due to this process, many birds lack necessary minerals and either die from fatigue or are sent to the slaughterhouse.
Despite actively participating in purchasing and consuming the byproducts of factory farming, many people simply do not have the facts. Many sectors of the farming world are owned by powerful food conglomerates that would prefer that this knowledge stay behind closed doors. What if these facilities had glass walls? Perhaps the information just might begin a change in the way we accept these animals to be treated.