Livestock Environment : Factory Farms vs Free Range Farms
Definition of Factory Farming
Factory farming is the practice of raising farm animals in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory.
Negative Effects of Factory Farming
a) Excessive Size
Unnaturally large numbers of animals are confined closely together. Cattle feedyard generally contain thousands of animals in one place, while many egg-laying businesses house one million or more chickens. The main animals for such operations are cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
b) Disregard for Animal Welfare
Metal buildings confine animals indoors, with minimal room for normal behaviors and little or no access to sunlight and fresh air
Animals are mutilated to adapt them to factory farm conditions. This includes cutting off the beaks of chickens and turkeys and amputating the tails of cows and pigs
Pens and cages restrict the natural behavior and movement of animals
c) Misuse of Pharmaceuticals
Low doses of antibiotics are administered regularly to animals in a preemptive move to ward off the diseases bred by unnatural, unsanitary conditions
In addition to preventive medicines, animals are fed hormones and antibiotics to promote faster growth
d)Mismanagement of Waste
Excessive waste created by large concentrations of animals is handled in ways that can pollute air and water
Man-made lagoons on industrial farms hold millions of gallons of liquid waste, from which contaminants can leach into groundwater. The manure is normally sprayed on crops, but often excessively, leading it to run off into surface waters
Nutrients and bacteria from waste can contaminate waterways, killing fish and shellfish and disturbing aquatic ecosystems
e) Increased viral transmission The result of confinement and overcrowding in factory farms is the lack of exercise and natural locomotory behavior for animals. This, in turn, weakens their muscles and bones. In addition, intensive livestock production:
Provides optimum conditions for viral transmission and mutations since thousands of livestock are in close proximity, where the filthy and warm living conditions are highly conducive for the rapid transmission of contagious diseases such as Avian Flu & Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy(BSE).
Positive Effects of Factory Farming
i) Production of animals in large scale
By relying heavily on the use of pesticides, antibiotics, vitamins and fertilizers, it is possible to produce more livestock by sidestepping the natural conditions that they would ordinarily need to survive and thrive. For instance, the use of antibiotics and vitamins allows many animals to be confined in a smaller area where normally disease would run rampant.
ii) Lower cost of production
By sidestepping the natural conditions that the animals would ordinarily need to survive and thrive, it translates into lower prices on supermarket shelves.
Video on how chickens are processed and cooked in a factory
Positive Effects of Free Range Farming
Free-range farming is kinder to livestock than current mass-production/factory farming methods. Animals are given room to move and feed in the environment that is most natural to them and as a result, they develop healthier and leaner; we get healthier meat.
Free range farming might just seem normal and the right way to farm in the first place but it has so much more positive effects when compared to factory farms where farms animals are confined in crowded cages that prevent movement, large amounts of manure build up, producing ammonia that can reach toxic levels. This ammonia then seeps into groundwater and nearby fields, polluting crops and drinking water. Restricted movement also causes the animals to build greater amounts of fatty tissue, rather than muscular tissue, resulting in fattier meat. Hence, free range farming is so much more environmentally friendly, humane and healthy than mass-production/factory farming.