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Factory Farming: What Have We Done?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

A Discussion on the Hope for an Alternative Future, By Shaun Britton

Photo by Jenna Hamra

A Machine Mind: The Birth of Factory Farming.

The burgeoning Industrial Revolution brought the promise and eventual delivery of the concept of mass production. Similar to other industries at the latter part of the Industrial Age, machinery and automation gradually enabled animal farming operations to adopt a dramatic frequency and scale. Efficiency and demand overtook ethics and welfare, with animals viewed as commodities rather creatures.

As factory farming developed, so did technology. Technology for accommodating investigative insight with the use of hidden cameras, brought with it reports of cruelty and raised the question of animal rights.

The organisation Animal Equality has investigated over 700 factory farms and slaughterhouses in over 13 countries and concludes that hidden camera footage shows time and time again ‘that there is no such thing as humane factory farming.’

A Catalogue Of Cruelty: Inside The Modern Factory Farm.

Any inquiry into factory farms will show that acts of cruelty are plentiful, and they are commonplace.

According to the organisation Animal Aid, broiler chickens, selectively bred to quickly grow unnaturally large are at the behest of noisy, overcrowded sheds, where up to 40,000 birds may have only 670cm2 of space each. With issues such as legs burnt from excrement in the litter that releases ammonia, and deformities from rapid growth

Investigations by VIVA have shown that many pigs endure steel farrow crates that are little bigger than their own bodies, with pigs enduring castration without anaesthetic - an entirely legal practice.

Heartbreaking images of dairy calves separated from their mothers and each other, kept in tiny crates like those of a Dorset dairy farm, a supplier to M&S exposed by Animal Equality UK in 2017, is sadly all too familiar.

Despite being recognised by an EU treaty as sentient beings with inner emotional lives, the suffering of animals is still everyday, and catastrophic.

Some suggestions are that the antidote to the unerring cruelty of factory farms is ‘high welfare’ foods. In the all too sporadic instances where high welfare is actually observed, all animals will eventually meet the terrifying conclusion of the slaughterhouse, and all go through the process against their will.

There is Another Way

Every regrettable act or age recalled by humanity, has one enduring shared thread; the ignorance at the time to the plight of the victims, their intrinsic value or their capacity to suffer at all.

With Christmas just behind us, in which millions of animals have passed through factory farms and slaughterhouses, I cannot help but consider that in relation to animals, we all need our Ebenezer Scrooge experience. I am reminded of the chilling moment that the Ghost of Christmas Present, lifts his robe to reveal the two emaciated children, revealed to be named ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’ and proclaims to Ebenezer “Beware of them…” 

And much we should, because throughout history, some of our darkest moments have occurred through both - the want of something and the ignorance of its reality. 

Factory farms, and indeed all animal industries will not downsize or transition on their own. They are upheld and anchored by consumer demand, which consumers alone have the power to reduce or remove. Our future generations will scrutinise our response to these acts, and hopefully we can be remembered as the generation that ended, not ignored the brutal practice of factory farming. | Tru.🌱


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1.) Animal Equality U.K. (2019). Animal Equality | Working to End Animal Cruelty. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].

2.) Animal Aid. (2019). The suffering of farmed chickens - Animal Aid. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].

3.) Viva!. (2019). Life and death on a British pig farm. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].

4.) Animal Equality U.K. (2019). Animal Equality investigation reveals M&S milk supplier confining large calves in small, solitary pens | Animal Equality U.K.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].

5.) Food Safety. (2019). Animal welfare - Food Safety - European Commission. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].


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