By Tessa Jillson
Industrial Corporations have raised the number of animals per farm due to the rise in population, knocking out smaller local farms in the process. Corporations are not only hurting America’s independent farms, but animal welfare, the environment and human health as well.
Factory farming causes severe physical alterations to farm animals.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (ASPCA) 99 percent of animals are raised in factory farms. In 1950, 5.6 million farms in America raised 100 million farm animals. In 2012, there were only 2.1 million farms in America raising 9.2 billion farm animals.
Chickens are housed in indoor sheds. Overcrowded environments cause chickens to develop alterations to their legs, according to the ASPCA. Physical problems develop from genetic manipulation. Their suffering is often neglected, and if not, they are usually killed.
Sleep deprivation is common in factory-farm owned chickens, since industries keep the lights on all day and night to encourage eating. Chickens experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, like most mammals, and therefore are ‘light sensitive,’ according to the ASPCA.
Pigs are kept in cages, such as gestation cages, restricting the movement or exercise of the animal, according to the ASPCA. If pigs are not forced into cages, they are moved to windowless sheds, restricting the animal from outdoor access, fresh air and sunlight. Floors are also slanted with cement to prevent pigs’ natural behaviors such as rooting.
Cattle contract diseases from unsanitary factory farm settings, according to the ASPCA. Beef cattle generally are housed outside in pastures. Although, most pastures contain only waste and mud – forcing the animal to stand all day in their own excrement.
Dairy cows are usually kept indoors and are on continuous heat cycles in order to keep milk flowing, according to the ASPCA. Heat cycles determine when a cow needs to be artificially inseminated, since cows, like humans, need to be pregnant in order to produce milk. Bovine growth hormone is used to boost high milk production at this time.
The average cow produces 100 pounds of milk per day. Excessive production is the leading cause of mastitis in cows, which is, in fact, very painful experience for the animal.
So, where does all the waste go?
Since factory farming facilities are large confinements, water, land and air in neighboring communities are polluted from the ammonia, waste, hydrogen sulfide and methane emissions, according to onegreenplanet.org. Waste deposits, over time, not only pollute groundwater but deplete it.
The ASPCA states 94 percent of Americans agree animals raised for food deserve to be free from abuse, and yet Americans continue to eat big labels that support factory farming.
To be fair, most packaged meats construe labels to persuade people into thinking they are making healthier choices.
“Free-range,” for instance, has no legal definition, and although the animals may not be in cages, they can be overcrowded and have a hard time moving around with no open space. Other examples include “hormone free” or “humanely raised” labels, both of which are stated without codified standards and therefore are meaningless.
This year Massachusetts is taking initiative. Question 3 on the ballot is an act to prevent cruelty to farm animals.
Vote yes on Question 3 in order to protect the welfare of animals.