Unwholesome, Unsanitary and Inhumane Conditions
Raising animals on cramped, filthy and inhumane factory farms differs greatly from what most consumers envision as the traditional American farm.
Hundreds of thousands of birds are breathing, urinating and defecating in the close quarters of factory-style poultry farms. These conditions give viruses and bacteria limitless opportunities to mutate and spread. This is a very real concern given the presence of avian flu in many parts of the world. The poultry industry has tried to portray factory farms as a solution to the spread of avian flu. It claims that keeping the birds indoors somehow isolates them from the outside world and the disease that lurks there.
Contrary to these claims, scientists suspect that it was in poultry factory farms that avian flu mutated from a relatively harmless virus found in wild birds for centuries to the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus that is killing birds and humans today. In England, the virulent H5N1 strain first broke out at the country�s largest turkey farm in early 2007. Theories about the source of the infection include rats or flies entering the facility from a nearby poultry processing plant that itself had received a shipment of infected poultry parts from Hungary. These large-scale facilities rely on truckloads of feed and supplies that arrive every day, providing a way for the disease to spread.
Raising thousands of animals together in crowded conditions generates lots of manure and urine. For example, a dairy farm with 2,500 cows produces as much waste as a city of 411,000 people. Unlike a city, where human waste ends up at a sewage treatment plant, livestock waste is not treated, but rather washes out of the confinement buildings into large cesspools, or lagoons. In feedlots, open lots where thousands of cattle wait and fatten up before slaughter, the animals often stand in their own waste before it is washed away. The cattle often have some water-splashed manure remaining on their hides when they go to slaughter. This presents the risk of contamination of the meat from viruses and bacteria.
Rather than grazing in green pastures, animals on factory farms exist in tight confinement with thousands of other animals. They have little chance to express their natural behaviors.
Pigs on factory farms are confined in small concrete pens, without bedding or soil or hay for rooting. The stress of being deprived of social interaction causes some pigs to bite the tails off of other pigs. Some factory farm operators respond by cutting off their tails.
Chickens stand in cages or indoors in large pens, packed so tightly together that each chicken gets a space about the size of a sheet of paper to itself. The chickens are not given space to graze and peck at food in the barnyard, so they resort to pecking each other. Many factory farmers cut off their beaks, a painful procedure that makes it difficult for chickens to eat.
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