The UK government is being urged to put an end to factory farming after an investigation uncovered “appalling” – and completely legal – abuse in these facilities.
World Animal Protection found piglets with cut tails, mother pigs in metal cages, and chickens struggling to breathe during visits to four farms.
Investigators visited two pig factory farms in the UK. These housed both “farrowing” pigs (mother pigs used to produce piglets) and “finishing” pigs (those raised for slaughter and breeding).
They collected footage, which according to World Animal Protection, exposes the myth of the UK’s “world-leading” animal welfare standards (something the government insisted the country had last year).
They found that finishing pigs were crammed into pens covered in dried excrement and that they were standing on liquid slurry. So-called “enrichment,” which was supposedly intended to meet behavioral needs, consisted of a small block of wood attached to a metal chain or a piece of plastic and rope in others. Several pigs were also documented with hernias or growths.
Farrowing pigs were confined to tiny metal cages, which weren’t big enough for them to turn around in. Investigators observed dead piglets, discarded piglet tails, and afterbirths strewn across the floor.
They also visited two chicken farms and found birds living in cramped conditions, as well as struggling to breathe, stand, or walk. Many of the birds also had bald patches and filthy feathers.
The UK factory farming industry
It is thought that around 85 percent of UK land animals are factory farmed. These animals are often mutilated, confined to cages, and not given the chance to exhibit natural behaviors.
Despite the fact that this industry is associated with poor animal welfare and is environmentally destructive (animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions), factory farming is growing in the UK.
It was reported this summer that there has been an influx of US-style so-called “mega-farms” in the country. These farms can hold hundreds of thousands – and in some cases over a million – animals at a time. It’s thought that there are now more than 1,000 of these in Britain.
The campaign to end factory farming
World Animal Protection is urging the government to ban new or expanding factory farms with its “No Future for Factory Farming” campaign.
“The narrative put forward is that the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in the world, but the reality of what these standards look like on factory farms is hidden behind closed doors,” Lindsay Duncan, the campaign lead, told Plant Based News (PBN).
“Labeling and imagery are designed to mislead and give the impression of bucolic farms where animals get to roam outdoors. The majority of animals farmed in the UK never get to see the outside world and sky.”
You can find out more about the ongoing campaign here.