Over 1,000 million animals are farmed in the UK each year
Far from the ideal of Britain’s green and pleasant land where farm animals all roam free in the countryside, around 70% of our farm animals are raised indoors on factory farms – including over 1 million intensively reared farmed animals right here in Dorset…
Compassionate Dorset believe that all animals are sentient beings who should be born to roam free in nature, and who deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. We also believe that factory farming is the single biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet.
The Problem With Factory Farming
- Factory farming is inhumane. It places production above all else, which means animals are treated as mere commodities, exploited and often abused in an effort to boost productivity.
- Life for farmed animals is typically spent crammed together in barren pens, crates or cages, which prevent them from carrying out natural behaviours such as nesting or foraging, and with little natural light or stimuli.
- Farmed animals commonly injure each other out of boredom and stress. To reduce these injuries, mutilation is commonplace, with teeth clipped, tails docked and beaks trimmed – all usually carried out without pain relief.
- Farm animals are selectively bred and given concentrated feed to grow faster and be high-yielding. This puts the animals at risk of developing physiological problems such as lameless, weakened or broken bones, infections and organ failure.
Farm Animal Welfare Issues
Although barren ‘battery cages’ were banned in the UK (and EU) in 2012, so called ‘enriched’ cages still only provide a very small amount of space per bird, and the design of the cages means their natural behaviours are still very restricted.
In barn or ‘cage-free’ systems the bird’s physical and mental well-being is compromised by various health problems, and chicken’s usually have their beaks trimmed (often without pain relief).
CHICKEN & POULTRY
Intensively reared broiler chickens used for meat are bred to grow bigger and faster. Chickens can live for six or more years under natural conditions but those used in intensive farming will commonly be slaughtered before they reach six weeks old. In intensive chicken farms the birds suffer from overcrowding in filthy conditions, barren environments, and welfare issues from growing so quickly. Chickens also suffer injury and stress through rough handling during catching, transport and slaughter.
Other birds such as turkeys, geese and quail are often bred in the same poor conditions as chickens, in intensive systems.
Even breeding game birds often spend their adult lives confined in battery cages.
Dairy cows are routinely impregnated to produce milk. Standard dairy cows who are bred to produce huge quantities of milk often suffer from lameness, mastitis and infertility.
Thousands of male calves are transported on long journeys to veal farms to be slaughtered in countries with lower welfare standards than the UK. Some male calves are simply killed at birth as unwanted ‘surplus’ of the dairy industry.
Not all standard dairy cows are allowed access to the outdoors to feed on fresh pasture, some are permanently kept indoors – ‘zero-grazed’. Many UK producers are also looking towards ‘super-dairies’ or ‘mega-dairies’ as seen in the USA, where thousands of cows are ‘zero-grazed’ and are literally treated as milking machines, even milking themselves.
Goats are nearly all kept indoors – ‘zero-grazed’.
Dairy goats are also routinely impregnated to produce milk, and nearly all male kids are killed at birth.
Beef cattle are often reared outdoors on grass when weather permits, although many are brought indoors or crowded into feedlots for fattening before slaughter. In indoor systems, beef cattle are commonly housed on slatted floors in crowded conditions, which increases aggression and can lead to severe injuries and lameness.
Sheep typically spend their lives outdoors in fields, but can suffer from lameness and illness caused by disease, and often suffer stress and injury during transport.
Lambs have a high mortality rate and are routinely subjected to the painful mutilations of castration and tail docking.
Pig are often tail docked (often without pain relief) to stop them biting each other’s tails out of stress and boredom.
Mothering sows are often confined in sow stalls (a ‘gestation crate’) or in farrowing crates where they cannot turn around or even move, and their piglets are often castrated.
Pregnant pigs are also confined in stalls, except in Britain where this has been banned (but they can still be used for mothering sows).
FISH & SEAFOOD
Contrary to popular belief, fish and other sea creatures are complex animals who are able to feel pain, fear and stress.
Wild fish live a natural life, but are caught and killed inhumanely.
Farmed fish are usually kept in crowded tanks or sea-cages and may be killed inhumanely. Many experience unacceptable periods of starvation, and can be fed more than their weight in wild fish, while millions of farmed salmon get thrown away with disease.
Farmed female prawns often have one eye cut off to encourage reproduction.
Crustaceans such as crab, lobster, shrimps and crayfish are often crammed together in barren restaurant tanks, awaiting slaughter, and suffer stress, injury, overheating and dehydration before being subjected to intense suffering by being boiled alive.
Octopus and squid may have their limbs cut off slowly in restaurants, and are left to die slowly.
Millions of sheep, cattle and calves suffer from overcrowding, exhaustion, dehydration, pain, stress, illness and disease on long truck journeys around the world, sometimes even facing terrible abuse during transportation outside the EU, and often only to face an inhumane slaughter on arrival.
There is no truly humane way of killing a healthy animal who wants to live. Even animals who have been lucky to enjoy a better life on a free-range or organic farm usually end up at the same slaughterhouses as factory farmed animals. The transporting and unloading of animals prior to slaughter can also cause a lot of stress.
In the UK, Compassion in World Farming and other organisation’s investigations into slaughter have revealed the poor treatment animals can face just prior to and at the time of death. They have found evidence of violent and careless handling, painful restraint, ineffective stunning, ineffective slaughter methods, deliberate abuse, and animals spending those last moments of their lives in fear and agony. There have even been such cases of cruelty reported right here in Dorset.
Outside the UK, loop-holes, poor enforcement, and a lack of suitable legislations can also impact the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter. There are a range of serious welfare concerns currently affecting vast numbers of animals across Europe.
Derogations to EU law allow animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for consumption by the Jewish and Muslim community (for Halal and Kosher meat). Slaughter without effective pre-stunning causes unacceptable suffering.
Visit the website for Compassion in World Farming for more details, farm animal facts and their latest farm animal welfare campaigns.
“We need to support higher welfare farming – that treats farm animals with the compassion all sentient beings deserve – today.”
- Choose free-range & organic – free-range and organic meat and dairy farms have higher overall animal welfare standards so these animals will have had a better life and been able to enjoy fresh air, sunlight on their backs, and space to roam. Check all labels, ingredients and menus state they are ‘free-range’, ‘organic’ or RSPCA Assured.
- Eat a lot less meat or try going meat-free or vegan – to reduce the unsustainable demand for quickly reared cheap food that gives rise to intensive factory farming. It’s really never been easier to go meat-free or choose a plant-based diet, with so many alternatives available in health food shops and supermarkets. Many eateries now cater for vegans or can adapt their dishes on request, and some even offer a separate vegan menu.
- Boycott foie gras – foie gras is the diseased liver from force-fed ducks or geese who spend their life in battery cages and have a large metal tube rammed down their throats 2 to 3 times a day. It is illegal to produce in the UK as it is so inhumane, but can currently still be imported, usually from France. If you find anyone selling it here in Dorset or nearby – please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Say NO to ‘mega’ dairies – if you believe that cows belong in fields, you can object to any applications for ‘super-dairies’ or ‘mega-dairies’ which treat cows like mere machines. If you hear of any applications please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
- Distribute our FREE Compassionate Food Guides – as well as picking up your copies for yourself, friends and family at our events (or downloading below), you can leave a copy in your local cafe or restaurant as a hint to offer more free-range meat and dairy, and/or more vegan options too. Or you could ask your local shop to display some of our handy wallet sized guides for their customers.
- Give some hens a home – hens love company and make lovely pets, so why not rehome some ex-farm hens in your garden to enjoy your own fresh free-range eggs, from chickens you can guarantee have been well cared for! For more information contact the British Hen Welfare Trust who offer local rescue days and collections at www.bhwt.org.uk.
NEW! FREE Compassionate Food Guide
Compassionate Dorset have created a FREE handy wallet sized Compassionate Food Guide collaborating with Compassion in World Farming – to help you understand what your food labels mean when you shop for meat or dairy. It is packed with animal facts plus tips to help you eat less, but higher welfare meat and dairy, through to trying more vegan options – to help create a kinder and more sustainable food system.
If you would like to request some printed guides to distribute at a local shop, cafe or event, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org