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.