The Ethics of Factory Farming

Factory farming is an attitude that regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit. In animal agriculture, this attitude has led to institutionalized animal cruelty, massive environmental destruction and resource depletion, and animal and human health risks.

Factory farming is an unethical practice of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory. The main product of this industry is meat, milk and eggs for human consumption.

Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade. Confinement at high stocking density requires antibiotics and pesticides to mitigate the spread of disease and pestilence exacerbated by these crowded living conditions. In addition, antibiotics are used to stimulate livestock growth by killing intestinal bacteria. There are differences in the way factory farming techniques are practiced around the world. There is a continuing debate over the benefits and risks of factory farming. Upside is the efficiency of food production. The downsides are animal welfare, the environmental impact and major health risks.

Today the world simply does not have the capacity to adequately respond to a health crisis originating from animal disease (such as swine flu, avian flu, West Nile virus, blue-tongue, and foot-and-mouth disease).The WHO states that intensive chicken farming increases the chance of a pandemic. Ethics

The large concentration of animals, animal waste, and the dead animals in a small space poses ethical issues. It is recognized that these techniques used to sustain intensive agriculture are cruel to animals. As awareness of the problems of intensive techniques has grown, there have been some efforts by governments and industry to remove inappropriate techniques.

These animals are full of distress and fear. They are subject to hunger thirst, discomfort, pain, injury and diseases. Chickens are subject to a cruel act of de-beaking to prevent vicious pecking and canabolism.

Six million breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined during pregnancy, and for most of their adult lives, in 2 ft (0.61 m) by 7 ft (2.1 m) gestation crates. According to pork producers and many veterinarians, pigs will fight if housed in pens.

Cruelty of factory farming includes:

Close confinement systems (cages, crates) or lifetime confinement in indoor sheds

Discomfort and injuries caused by inappropriate flooring and housing

Restriction or prevention of normal exercise and most of natural foraging or exploratory behavior

Restriction or prevention of natural maternal nesting behavior

Lack of daylight or fresh air and poor air quality in animal sheds

Social stress and injuries caused by overcrowding

Health problems caused by extreme selective breeding and management for fast growth and high productivity

Reduced lifetime (longevity) of breeding animals (dairy cows, breeding pigs)

Fast-spreading infections encouraged by crowding and stress in intensive conditions

Male chicks, which are too scrawny for meat and incapable of laying eggs, are liquidated as inventory and end up in feed for these animals!

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