In the US, more than 1.5 billion animals live on factory farms. They are often raised in cramped, dirty conditions before they are taken to a slaughterhouse to be killed for meat. But a new investigation says it gets worse for the nation’s farm animals. Millions do not even survive the journey from the farm to the abattoir.
According to the Guardian, every year roughly 20 million chickens, 330,000 pigs, and 166,000 cattle don’t make it to the slaughterhouse alive. This is because, on the way, they have likely died from exhaustion, hunger, heat, cold, thirst, or trauma.
Many like to think of some animals living on spacious, healthy green pastures. But the reality is that, according to a 2019 report by nonprofit Sentience Institute (SI), 99 percent of all farmed animals in the US live on factory farms.
“When consumers think about factory farming, they appear to take psychological refuge in the idea of ‘happy meat,’” Kelly Anthis, SI’s executive director, said in 2019.
“Consumers feel uncomfortable about eating factory-farmed animals, so their minds justify animal product consumption by incorrectly assuming that what they eat was produced ethically,” they continued.
Is legislation being followed?
The new analysis underlines the kind of treatment animals are subjected to when they leave those factory farms.
Transporting animals is regulated by one law in the US, but not everyone sticks to the rules. The legislation states that animals must not be transported for more than 28 hours without one five-hour break.
However, the Guardian’s investigation found one truck carrying pigs drove across the US for 32 hours without stopping last year. In fact, the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute believes this could be happening to 10 percent of farm animals or more.
To ensure its report, which was based on USDA 2021 slaughter figures, was accurate, the Guardian asked a USDA official to review the investigation findings. No changes were made to the final report.