Factory Farming 101

Like most of the goods in this country, our meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are now being mass produced. Old McDonald’s Farm has been replaced by large confinement facilities that produce a year-round supply of meat, chickens, eggs, and dairy products at a reasonable price.

Animal diets are designed to boost productivity and lower costs
Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredient is grain, which is kept at artificially low prices by government intervention. To further cut costs, the feed may contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale cookies, poultry manure, chicken feathers, bubble gum, and restaurant waste. Until 1997, cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying cause of “mad cow disease.”

Switching from natural diet of grasses to grains
Few people realize that a high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants–cud-chewing animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs–not starchy, low-fiber grain. When cattle are switched from pasture to grain, for example, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, these animals are given chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots, bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with disease-resistant bacteria, there are few drugs available to treat them.

Grain-fed meat has lower nutritional value
Switching ruminants from their natural diet of grasses to grains also lowers the nutritional value of their meat and dairy products. Compared with grass-fed meat, grain-fed meat contains more total fat, saturated fat, and calories. It also has less vitamin E, beta-carotene, and two health-promoting fats called omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA. The milk from dairy cows raised in confinement is similarly low in these nutrients. One result of our modern “advances” in animal technology is inferior food.

Raised animals in confinement
Chickens, turkeys, and pigs are also being raised in confinement. Typically, they suffer an even worse fate than the ruminants. Tightly packed into cages, sheds, or pens, they cannot practice their normal behaviors, such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. Worse yet, they cannot escape the stench of their own manure. Meat and eggs from these animals are also lower in a number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Raised animals on pastures
Raising animals on pasture is better for the environment than raising them in confinement. In a conventional feedlot operation, for example, cattle deposit large amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and transported away from the area. It costs money to haul it away, so it is dumped as close to the feedlot as possible. As a result, the surrounding soil is overloaded with nutrients, resulting in ground and water pollution. When animals are raised on pasture, their manure is a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management problem.”

In Conclusion
So although the food is cheap and convenient, factory farming is creating a host of problems, including:

  • Food with less nutritional value
  • Air, land, and water pollution
  • The widespread use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs
  • Low-paying, stressful farm worker jobs
  • The loss of small family farms
  • Animal stress and abuse


William C
William C1 years ago


W. C
W. C1 years ago

Thank you.

Sharon Stein
Sharon Stein4 years ago

MOST Small farms are much more animal friendly

Ralph G.
Ralph G4 years ago

part 2

These will be good problems to have compared to the ones we have now. Actually, the ending of third world infant death due to starvation death will mean mothers will not have so many children due to anticipating some of them being lost.

Challenges to look forward to. :)

Ralph G.
Ralph G4 years ago

Sometimes we feel helpless in the face of what appears to be insurmountable world problems. Yet, the single most beneficial thing that one can do is to become vegan. It is already happening at an unprecedented rate and the rate of increase is also increasing. As the demand for meat decreases the factory farms will close, slaughter houses will close, many diseases like heart disease and some cancers will disappear, many hospitals will close, the massive medical expense borne by government and therefore, taxpayers will drop radically, there'll be a massive drop in pollution due to the ending of animal agriculture, the destruction of rainforests (an acre per second) will cease, land used for growing grain for meat animals can switch to feeding humans instead, so the worlds starving will eat, etc., etc.

Of course there will be new problems to address:
the drop in heart disease alone will mean large numbers of old (and not so old) people living longer so planning more family get togethers may prove a strain, funeral directors will see a business down turn, schools that teach the black art of factory farming will close, large populations will appear that used to die of starvation, so we could face an increase in world population, butchers will have to put down their knives and learn a new trade, vegan knockers will be silent as they too will be vegan and we all know what happens when people have time on their hands, etc., etc..

These will be go

Shirley P.
Shirley P4 years ago

Factory farm animal farming is a fairly newish way to farm in the states. However, I firmly believe it is so very evil that it will have a large part in bringing America down. There is absolutely NO good to it, see all the damages it brings to all the animals involved, and the lands and the people receiving low nutritional food from them. For lack of a better term, I view all those deeply involved in this type of animal cruelty as "Anti-Christs" who are out only to make that profit, and will do whatever that takes. It is unnatural, evil, and tortures many millions of animals yearly in the USA. And all for corporate profit. That is a real destroyer. I believe this earth was Not made for such abuse to living creatures on this planet, and that there will be very severe consequences for having it in operation. It is a WAR on nature and everything in the natural world we were given to survive. It is man's affinity for GREED. That will destroy everything here, it was not designed to end up like this.

Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago

Thanks,Dr. Lipman
Thanks for your article.
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Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn7 years ago

farm animals should be kept in as natural surroundings as possible and not slaughtered early

Arthur K.
Arthur Killings8 years ago

I am thinking about going vegan.

Megan Poettgen
Megan R8 years ago

Disgusts me how we treat animals. We've raised our own chickens for a few years, and while the whole butchering process makes me feel queasy, the way factories treat them is far worse. Our chickens had the lay of the land, and we only gave them grain to supplement. They grew the size of Turkeys, and it was all lean, healthy meat. There's a dairy farm down the road that has acres and acres of pasture, along with hay, for their cows.