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Is There Such a Thing as Humane Factory Farms?

Is There Such a Thing as Humane Factory Farms?

With an ever increasing population and an insatiable demand for low cost meat, is it ever going to be possible to reduce animal suffering on industrial farms?

The Pig Adventure thinks so. Housing 3,000 sows, and producing 80,000 piglets a year, The Pig Adventure, which is operated by Fair Oaks Farm have an open door policy where the public can get a first hand look at what goes on inside a modern pig farm.

An Inside Look At The Pig Adventure

There’s a sleek lobby with touch screens and billboards touting the intelligence of pigs, with clean carpeted corridors leading to soundproofed viewing areas. From here you can witness the birth of piglets, before getting a chance to virtually hang out with some of the pigs using state of the art interactive technology.

Right next door is the 36,000 cow Dairy Adventure where you can step inside the birthing barn, make your own milk, and learn all about cows in the dairy activity center.

Fair Oaks Farm are proud to announce that visitors can see for themselves that even in today’s global supermarket era, factory farms can still be humane and despite being gargantuan in size, can still pay heed to animal welfare.

The problem is that as much as this project may bring hope to conscientious meat eaters who are striving to support more humane farming practices, the idea being painted by The Pig Adventure is a far cry from your average factory farm. And it is those average factory farms which house 99% of farm animals in the United States.

Factory Farming Transparency

Mega farms like The Pig Adventure believe that transparency is the answer to growing moral concerns surrounding the animals we use for food, but the reality is that humane and factory farms are two words which just don’t go together. The conditions are undoubtedly much better at Fair Oaks than many others, but the wider context of pig farming and the ethical issues surrounding raising animals for our consumption are being completely ignored.

Surely for true transparency the slaughter of the pigs should be an integral part of the experience, but Fair Oaks know all too well that their visitors wouldn’t be going home smiling, nor would most parents dream of exposing their children to such real life horror.

The Pig Adventure says “step inside our modern pig farm and learn about pig farming in the most unique and transparent way,” but this misleads consumers, who may well come away from the experience believing that this is how all pigs are being kept on modern day farms. This model of farm is only sustainable due to the revenue raised from the visitor experience center and does not show a true reflection of the overwhelming majority of factory farms.

The farming industry runs on increasingly tight margins, and this is why larger farms with more animals being cramped into less space has been the trend of the last 50 years. If total transparency was seen in all farms, consumers would almost certainly be repulsed by what they see, a fact backed up by the recent push in ag-gag laws.

It could be argued that The Pig Adventure is more humane than many other factory farms, but it is also at danger of giving people a false idea about where their meat actually comes from.

Profits Will Always Trump Welfare

All farm animals, regardless of species, have their own natural behaviors, personality traits, wants and desires, and no matter how much we might try to make factory farms more humane, the animals will never be able to fully experience life as it should be. By their very nature, factory farms neglect the individual needs of animals, treating them as units of production with profits always trumping welfare.

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128 comments

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5:45PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Do not eat meat.. period.

5:42PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Gerald L. Any type of monoculture crop farming and factory farming (both are environmentally destructive) is a crime against nature, they're both operations to destroy the earth for the profit of a few greedy criminals. Factory farming is beyond a crime, it is a mass murder atrocity equivalent to Hitler's concentration camps. Your arguments for either are supporting criminal acts.

9:27PM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

@ Susan T; @Gerald L "No animals require chemical fertilizers needing mined potash, chemical urea and petrochemicals, plus high carbon inputs"

You are wrong. Farmers can plant cover crops in the fall and till them in. Rotating crops and planting a strategic crop like alfalfa for one year which returns nitrogen to the soil is a time honored technique as well.

Very true Susan, on tillable land. How much land used for grazing animals is hilly, rocky, hardpan clay, and possibly even too wet for farm equipment. How much meat protein, and other by-products, dairy etc. are produced from grass grazers on these types of un-tillable land? Grass only needs sun quite a natural conversion. Grazed grasslands cut down on wildfires, thereby cutting down on air pollution.

1:10PM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions :
1) Care 2
2) PeticaoPublica.com
To know more on poor horses from Petropolis :
3) Petropolis shame‬
Thank you for sharing

5:55AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

@Gerald L "No animals require chemical fertilizers needing mined potash, chemical urea and petrochemicals, plus high carbon inputs"

You are wrong. Farmers can plant cover crops in the fall and till them in. Rotating crops and planting a strategic crop like alfalfa for one year which returns nitrogen to the soil is a time honored technique as well.

Besides, the manure from these factory farms is not being recycled for agriculture. It sits in gigantic lagoon pits, susceptible to leakage and overflow. And most factory farms treat their animals with antibiotics and feed them GMO feed, which IMO renders their poop undesirable for using in cultivating edible produce.

5:45AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

@Nikolas K "Plants have the same feelings as we do we just cannot hear them unless we connect special instruments to them"

Plants do not have a nervous system; they're incapable of feeling pain as we know it. The observations you are referring to indicate that plants do respond to negative stimulus, and may have some type of consciousness (I believe they do). But do not project "feelings" onto them. They do not have a central brain like humans or animals so it's unclear what type of consciousness they have, or even whether the responses recorded in the experiments are purely "reflexive" type responses and not any type of conscious response.

So yes it is ignorant to conclude that by eating plants only, one is "doing no harm" but it is ridiculous and equally ignorant to equate eating plants with eating animals as to the amount of suffering involved.

There is no such thing as a humane factory farm. Even the photo on the homepage for Fair Oaks Farm shows pigs in a crowded environment.

4:29AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

It doesn't lift my spirit much better at all if I know the pigs' suffering & cruelty is going to start when they reach the Abbatoirs. Cruelty seems to routinely "go together" with Abbatoirs relentlessly. Just the culture of cruel men are attracted to Abbatoirs. Enthusiasm for monitored Cameras is the only thing that will stop employees feeling free to be cruel. I await to hear of this.

1:08PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

I like this game! humane is to factory farm as Christian is to satanist....whose turn is it next? Who would like to go next?

5:15AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

industrial farming never- possibly small family farme

9:49PM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Plants have the same feelings as we do we just cannot hear them unless we connect special instruments to them. see youtube video called communication from plants. Oh you do not want to learn the truth, I wonder why?
Maybe you do not wan to wake up to the beliefs that plants feel nothing its only us and animals that feel pain. How mistaken you are.

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