Factory Farming-Animal Cruelty

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Dictionary.com defines Factory Farming as a system of large-scale intensive and industrialized agriculture that is focused on profit with animals kept indoors and restricted in mobility. As the population grows, humanity needs more food. Instead of receiving nutrition from grains, fruits, and vegetables, humans are relying on mega farms to get their daily calories. Peanut butter, tofu, protein bars, nuts, and other not known foods such as lentils, and quinoa are a great source of protein, but with all the factory farms around, it seems like the only source of protein is in large masses of meat. The debate is whether farming must go to such extremes at the expense of another's life or not. The conflict is, some do not see animal lives as the same worthiness as humans. What kinds of things do factory farms do, and who is advocating for these animals?

History of Factory Farming

Factory Farming started with chickens, but on accident. In 1926 there was an accidental over delivery of 450 baby chicks to a small farm on the Delmarva Peninsula. Instead of giving back the baby chicks, she raised them inside her home and soon let the flock grow to 250,000. Later in the 1970's factory farming of chickens turned into factory farming of their egg production. Wendell Murphy decided to parrot what the chicken industry had done, but with pork instead. After getting local farmers to build pig sheds for him on their property, he soon got laws passed that were in favor of large-scale factory farming, and later became known as the king of pork. [1] Wisconsin used to actually be known as the "breadbasket" state because of its extreme production of wheat. However, wheat ruined the soil and farmers decided to switch from cash crops to feed crops. When this happened, dairy farming became the new industry. By 1899, 90% of farms raised dairy cows. A big portion of this can be owed to William Dempster Hoard, who promoted dairy farming for nearly fifty years. The factory farming of dairy can also be credited to the University of Wisconsin School of Agriculture as they encouraged it throughout the southern part of the state. Another big reason Wisconsin became so large in the factory farming of dairy was that a bunch of New Yorkers moved to Wisconsin in the 1840's and 1850's. New York had actually been known as the dairy producer of the United States, and along with themselves, they also brought their dairy farming skills to Wisconsin as well. Cheese became the number one selling product from Wisconsin, and more and more families were finding it easiest to be farmers in this area of the nation. The industry swelled to an unimaginable amount of production and Wisconsin has had dairy factory farms ever since. [2]

Wisconsin Animal Cruelty Organizations

  • Alliances for Animals and the Environment - Confronts animals cruelty and exploitation. There are five different focus areas: companion animals, farmed animals, wildlife, animals in entertainment, and anti-vivisection.
  • Citizens United for Animals: - Discusses pending legislation, pending campaigns, ect.
  • Alliance for Animals - Hosts a variety of activities from events and speakers to activist and educational demonstrations.
  • Global Conservation Group - Founded in 2008 by Michael and Jordan Turner. It is the largest rescue and advocacy rescue organization in Wisconsin. They help out to agricultural animals, wild animals, and companion animals as well.
  • Raw Milwaukee Meetup Group - a group that meets about raw meet material
  • Autumn Farm Sanctuary - A newer farm animal sanctuary located in Cedarburg.
  • Heartland Farm Sanctuary - Wisconsin's first and only farm sanctuary that saves animals in need and spreads compassion through educational youth outreach programs.

Ethics of Factory Farming

The average day in the life of a factory farm chicekn. Source: [1]

Specifics on what goes on in factory farming concerning the animals:

Chickens: 95% of egg laying hens spend their entire lives in battery cages. Each chicken is given the amount of space in this cage equivalent to the size of a sheet of paper. The birds also a lot of the time go through a process called "debeaking" which is part of their beak getting sawed off so that they do not pick out all of their feathers due to the stress of being in such a small cage. In order to get the hens into egg-laying mode, some factory farms starve their chickens for weeks on end. This process is called "force molting".

Pigs: Many pregnant pigs spend their time in a gestation crate that is only slightly larger than their body. These crate floors are made up of slat so that the manure call fall through. This is entirely painful on their feet. Only a minuscule amount of 17-20 days after the piglets are born they are mutilated; including the acts of castration and cutting off a portion of their tails. This is done without any kind of pain relief. The next 6 months of their lives are spent in confined pens until they reach the desirable rate to be slaughtered.

Cows: Many calves are separated from mothers at birth and it creates severe stress. Many of the mother's lives are spent pregnant to produce milk and receive only little times of rest periods.The rest of the time, their lives are spent hooked up to milking machines and standing on cold hard concrete. Because so many of the cows are injected with hormones, many of them also get mastitis and lameness. Calves who are raised for beef may be dehorned, castrated, and branded. Pain relief is almost never provided. Once cow reaches ideal weight, they are sent off to slaughter. Though the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act requires that the cows be given pain relief before the slitting of the throat at death, but investigations have found that some cows are still conscious when their throats are slit. [3]


  1. “Factory Farming: In the beginning... Unintended Consequences,” SBI, 2015. http://www.factory-farming.com/factory_farming.html
  2. "The Rise of Dairy Farming." Wisconsin Historical Society. 2015. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-028/?action=more_essay.
  3. "Factory Farming." Farm Sanctuary. 2015. http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/.

Additional Published Resources

  • Grace Clement, “Pets or Meat?” Ethics and Domestic Animals, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2011): 46-57.
  • Micheal, Marc, Adam Coutts, Sanjay Basu, and David Stuckler. 2011. “Meaty Concerns”. The World Today 67 (8/9). Royal Institute of International Affairs: 21–23.
  • Bernstein, Mark H.. 2011. “Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship by Gary Steiner”. Review of Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship.Journal of Animal Ethics 1 (1). University of Illinois Press: 96–98.
  • Michael Gregor. “Industrial agriculture to blame in bird flu outbreak” Green Bay Press Gazette, May 21, 2015, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/05/21/industrial-agriculture-blame-bird-flu-outbreak/27723767/
  • Yount, Lisa. Animal Rights. New York: Facts on File, 2004.
  • A. Meaney, Carren. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998.

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