In an animal factory, hogs, chickens, dairy cows, beef cattle, and even fish, are the raw material to be shaped into a marketable end product where every shrink wrapped end product is exactly the same.
All the steaks, chops, drumsticks, thighs, filets and the like that we view in supermarket display cases, all looking pink and fresh in their see-through packages, are uniform, if nothing else.
There is little concern for the pain, suffering, health, extreme crowding, availability of fresh air, sunlight and fresh water for the animal factory captives.
That is one very major reason that makes the whole concept of the animal factory so contrary to common decency and humanity. They strip the animal of everything that makes them a pig, chicken, cow, turkey or whatever species happens to be trapped in the CAFO concentration camps.
Want to see with you own eyes what a chicken factory farm looks like from the inside? Below is a unique video made by Craig Watts, a very brave factory farmer, who, after 22 years of raising chickens for Perdue, was at his breaking point and did something no one has done before. He invited farm animal welfare advocates to his farm to film and tell his story. Remember the supermarket egg cartons labeled as:
Keep that in mind as you watch the video and see where all those chicken McNuggets, buckets of KFC, and hot wings come from then decide if this is what "humanely raised" means.
By contrast, the Inner World of Farm Animals, shown above, is a great book by Amy Hatkoff that shows what farm animals are like if left to be themselves. It's a good read and if you click on the book's image above, it will take you to Amazon.com where you can make it your own.
While the operators will staunchly defend the animal factory system and claim that health is of great concern, that sick animals can't be sold, the reality is that veterinary care in these facilities is very scarce; after all it costs more to provide medical care to 5,000 or 10,000 animals than to let a few sick ones die. Replacements are readily available.
The real concern and feeding is focused on how to increase the amount of salable flesh in the shortest possible time. The animals are engineered for a particular purpose just as automobile systems are engineered for appeal to the mass market.
In a chicken factory the birds are engineered to either lay eggs or grow large breasts.
When in comes to beef or dairy products, genetic engineering of the animals is common practice. Beef cattle are engineered build nicely marbled tissue.
Dairy cows are genetically manipulated to produce 2.5 times the volume of milk than was yielded just fifty years ago. Putting numbers to that, today about 8.5 million cows pump out 190 billion pounds of milk. Do the math, at around 2 pounds per quart, that's about 8.5 billion quarts of milk. (Anne Mendelson, "The Milk of Human Kindness, Industrialization and the Super Cow"; The CAFO Reader)
Actually in the case of eggs and milk, the animals are truly capital equipment, they are animal factory machines and as long as the eggs keep dropping and milk keeps flowing all is well. The machines are not given any space to move around and they occupy the same small confined space in the production line until they die at which time they are replaced by a new animal unit.
What happens to an old burned out dairy cow? Had a fast food burger lately?
With farmed fish, they are now engineered to grow fast and gain weight. This practice has recently made headlines and stirred up a considerable amount of controversy.
Pig CAFOs are particularly worrisome in terms of environmental damage and degradation of surrounding communities. Also very worrisome is how the very nature of pigs and their stressful factory-farm living conditions team up to produce a less-than-ideal pork product.
Even the venerable Thanksgiving turkey can't escape the horrors of the CAFO system. Be sure to read about the modern turkey factory versus the sustainable heritage turkey farm.
We can't leave the poultry business without getting into that all time French favorite, pate foie gras. Please navigate to Foie Gras and see what a captive goose endures to bring us that delicious fat, diseased liver.
It is estimated that over 450 billion animals are housed at any given time in the nation's factory farms.
Take a little time and get familiar with the total commitment they make to bring us out eggs, bacon, milk, steaks, burgers, pork chops, chicken nuggets and hundreds of other factory farm products. If it doesn't change some eating habits, at least it will make us thnk about what we are eating.
Leave Animal Factory and return to Home Page
Return to the CAFO overview page
Take a walk through an industrial Chicken Factory
Take a tour of the industrial Pig Farms
Tour a Beef Factory: the feedlot and slaughterhouse
Visit a modern day Milk Factory; used to be the dairy farm
Turkey Factory; not just for Thanksgiving
See the geese, try the Foie Gras
Aquaculture; Fish Factories of the sea