Farm animals are officially recognised in the European Union as sentient beings. This means that they are recognised as able to feel emotions, pain, discomfort, fear and frustration.
Despite this, billions of animals bred for food are factory farmed, and so spend their brief lives in pain and misery due to abhorrent living conditions. The priority for factory farms is to maximise profit with little regard to the treatment of animals, so creating great distress for the animals being reared.
It is estimated that two in every three farm animals globally are farmed using intensive methods, equating to approximately 50 billion animals every year living out their short lives in pain. Michael Kern is a strong advocate of animal rights and the prevention of cruelty to animals and has been a vegetarian for 45 years
You don’t have to search far to see images of factory farming that show the cramped conditions in which animals are forced to exist. Most factory farmed animals are crammed together in cages, pens or crates, which prevents them from exhibiting their natural behaviours including foraging or nesting. This denial of nature is not only painful for the animals, it can lead to outcomes such as stress, frustration and boredom which may then cause the animals to inflict injuries on each other. These injuries typically go untreated, leaving them in further distress.
Mutilation, Selective Breeding and Concentrated Feeds
Animals in intensive farms are often subjected to mutilation, whereby their beaks, tails, teeth or other appendages are removed, usually without pain relief, to help reduce the likelihood of them being able to injure each other. This is despite the fact that many of these procedures are illegal in the EU. Animals are also selectively bred and then fed a concentrated food to make them grow faster to produce a higher yield. This can cause a range of physiological problems, many of which leave these animals in considerable physical pain.
The Wider Impact of Factory Farming
Factory farming is without a doubt a cruel and unnecessary practice. This type of farming also has a negative impact in a wider sense. Intensive animal farming contributes to climate change, causes disease, and decreases natural biodiversity. Proponents of factory farming often cite the efficiency and cheapness of these methods as part of the solution to feed the human population of the world. This is simply not true. For every 17 calories that we get from factory farmed meat and dairy products, 100 calories in edible crops have been used, representing a calorific loss of 83%. Factory farming essentially pits humans against animals in terms of getting enough food.
The PETA Guide to Animal Rights
Animal welfare charity PETA provides a practical guide to animal rights that explains in full the rights of animals to live as free as possible from cruelty and pain. Animal rights supporters believe that all creatures who have the capacity to suffer also have the right to be protected from suffering, and that we as humans have a moral obligation to provide this protection.