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ENGL 1302
For most people, the mere thought of animal cruelty is revolting. Most people would not
strike a cat with a metal rod, body-slam a dog into the ground, or toss a goldfish into a garbage
disposal. Famous and beautiful celebrities encourage the public to boycott fur by going nude
themselves. Makeup is today labeled as cruelty-free because the public opposed testing beauty
products on animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs. Yet, despite this clear evidence of the
aversion most show towards animal cruelty, most people are responsible for a form of animal
cruelty that occurs on a daily basis. Most people eat meat.
In America, nearly all meat is produced through what is called industrial farming.
Industrial farming erupted in America as the population began to rapidly increase while people
flocked to urban centers. Agribusiness, based in rural areas, was challenged with the difficult
task of providing enough food to feed the densely packed cities and suburbs of America.
Industrial farms are always looking for a way to produce more food at a minimal cost. Animals
raised for industrial food production are not treated as living creatures, but as as commodities to
be exploited for profit (Farm Sanctuary). Yet, factory farms do more than just harm animals.
Industrial farming is a health risk to people because its practices cause Salmonella outbreaks and
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Factory farms pollute the air and the water, leaving rural
communities susceptible to diseases and birth defects. Due to choices made in the past, America
may be dependent upon industrial farming, but factory farming has many faults which need to be
One of the largest issues to be found with industrial farming is its inhumanity. Different
species of animals are treated differently, according to the needs of industrial farming. Pigs live
particularly unpleasant lives. Sows are held in gestation pens which are not large enough for the

animal to turn around in and barely large enough to allow them to lie down uncomfortably. They
are artificially inseminated for the first time at 7 months of age and held in the gestation pen until
just before giving birth. When the time is near, the sow is moved to a farrowing crate which
allows her only enough room to birth and nurse her piglets while preventing her from crushing
them or even seeing them. The piglets will remain with the sow for around 20 days, at which
time she returns to the gestation pen to be inseminated again. Living confined as they do, sows
are subjected to noxious fumes from their own waste and suffer from joint damage (Farm
Sanctuary). Without exercise, the sows muscles atrophy and they lose the ability to defecate
naturally so they must be fed laxatives (Kristof 2). Due to the constant strain of births, sows
suffer from distended, inflamed, bleeding, and usually fatal uterine prolapses (Undercover).
When the piglets are removed from their mothers, they have a portion of their tails cut off and
the males are castrated, all without use of any painkillers (Farm Sanctuary). Some piglets are
even gutted; their intestines are then ground up and fed back to the sows as a method of disease
prevention (Kristof 2). There are documented instances of farm workers abusing and torturing
pigs throwing bowling balls at pigs heads; hitting, throwing, and dropping piglets; and body-
slamming pigs at multiple facilities in recent years (Undercover).
Although pigs are treated harshly, chickens have it bad too. Of chickens raised for eggs
eggs or meat, when a male chick is hatched, it will be immediately killed, either through the use
of electrocution plates or ground alive in a macerator to be fed back to hens. Female chicks are
de-beaked with a hot blade to prevent them from pecking other hens, as they are destined to be
confined in very close quarters with individual space no larger than a letter-sized piece of paper.
Chickens are made to live in these cramped quarters in their own filth, sometimes alongside of
dead chickens. Of egg-laying chickens, when a hen fails to produce an adequate quantity of eggs,

she will be shocked into production by starvation. Of meat-raised chickens, they are kept in pens
which are brightly lit day and night, stressing the chickens into eating and growing at a more
rapid pace. The chickens are forced into a state of rapid physical maturity after only 42 days,
their legs often unable to support their bodies, suffering frequently from heart failure due to a
lack of oxygen and stress (Farm Sanctuary).
Similarly to pigs and chickens, cows have terrible lives on industrial farms. In dairy
operations, cows spend their days indoors, standing on hard floors, and connected to milking
machines. In order to produce milk, a cow must be pregnant, so their lives are spent similarly to
sows. They are also injected with growth hormones to increase the quantity of milk they
produce. When a calf is born, it is immediately removed from its mother, and, if male, sold for
meat, often for veal. Veal production involves confining a calf to a small crate. The dairy cows
will often have their tails removed by deadening the tail with a tight rubber ring until it falls off.
Those cows that are raised for beef will be painfully castrated, have their horns burned out, and
be branded (Farm Sanctuary). Cows that become sick or unresponsive will be prodded, dragged
around behind tractors, or beaten about the face and body (Undercover).
Although the abuse inflicted upon animals raised for human consumption is terrible, it is
not the only reason industrialized farming requires greater regulation. Diseases such as
salmonella have become a serious problem in recent years. It is an accepted fact that salmonella
thrives in cage housing, and that there are far fewer documented cases of salmonella that can be
traced back to cage-free farming (Kristof 1). Industrialized farming is a hotbed for disease due to
poor sanitation and waste management practices (Farm Sanctuary). The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that suggested in the year 2000 alone, there were
approximately 182,000 cases of salmonella in the United States, including 70 deaths that could

be said to be caused by eggs (Kristof 1). In a single outbreak in 2010, 1,500 cases of salmonella
could be traced back to tainted egg production. The salmonella could have come from chicken
feed containing bone meal, rodents, or infected workers (Davey).
Another health risk to consumers and non-consumers of industrialized meat alike are new
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Factory farms desire greater production at a lower cost. Since
injecting feed animals with low doses of antibiotics has been proven to increase weight, farmers
continue to do so. Up to 70% of American antibiotic consumption is used in this manner, despite
public awareness of the dangers in allowing bacteria to develop resistances to these drugs
through their overuse (Kristof 1). Certain bacterial infections, such as MRSA, are already
untreatable in humans, yet the agribusiness industry continues their misuse of antibiotics without
care for the results. Antibiotic resistant infections are killing approximately 90,000 Americans
each year (Farm Sanctuary).
Furthermore, pollutants released from industrialized farming pose an altogether different
sort of risk to the public. On factory farms, a massive quantity of waste is created each day -
nearly 1 million tons in America alone. This waste is stored in open-air lagoons, dug out of the
ground and lined with plastic which is susceptible to leaks and spills at they fill to capacity. One
such leak left 110,000 fish dead when 200,000 gallons of manure poured into a nearby creek.
Over-application of manure to soil as a method of disposal can also cause run-off to water
supplies. Not only is water pollution a risk, but air pollution is a certainty in factory farming.
Livestock produces large quantities of methane during digestion, which is a contributor to global
warming and a major greenhouse gas (Farm Sanctuary).
Despite Americas reliance upon industrialized farming for the survival of most city-
dwellers, it is clear that much more oversight is required. There is no reason why animals should

be made to suffer needlessly to feed humans. This is not a recommendation for vegetarianism,
simply a belief in greater regulation of agribusiness insofar as the humane treatment of animals is
concerned. Additionally, a hard look needs to be taken into the needless health risks which are
being placed upon the public by carelessly managed industrialized farming. Equal consideration
must be given to future quality of life and current profits. Without some major changes made to
industrialized farming, the farmers themselves will cease to be in the business of sustaining life
due to the quantity of blood on their hands.


Works Cited
Davey, Monica. Heart of Iowa as Fault Line of Egg Recall. New York Times 26 Aug. 2010.
Web. 28 May 2014. <>
Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary, Inc. Web. 28 May 2014.
Kristof, Nicholas. Cleaning the Henhouse. New York Times 1 Sep. 2010. Web. 28 May 2014.
---. Is That Sausage Worth This?. New York Times 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 May 2014.
Undercover Investigations. Mercy For Animals. Web. 28 May 2014.