End Factory Farming Before It Ends Us.
Factory farming is an intensive form of animal agriculture which prioritises profit above everything else.
This means that animals are kept in cramped, overcrowded conditions with a lack of environmental enrichment, poor hygiene standards and low animal welfare. The animals are seen as commodities and have been bred for maximum productivity at a minimum cost, meaning that animal suffering and disease outbreak is rife on factory farms.
Factory farming is widely condemned for its abject animal cruelty. In its determination to produce cheap meat, dairy and eggs whatever the cost, factory farming has established itself as one of the most destructive industries in the world. Factory farming is a leading cause of antibiotic resistance, is one of the most significant contributors to the climate crisis, continues to ravage the natural world and poses serious risks to our health and the future of humankind.
We are campaigning to End Factory Farming Before It Ends Us. It has never been more urgent for the government and consumers to take action today. Viva! is doing everything in its power to urge the government to End Factory Farming Before It Ends Us and you can help.
Behind the Factory Farm Walls
Flat House Farm is just one of thousands of factory farms all across our country. Viva! recorded cannibalism, pigs suffering painful, slow deaths, filthy conditions and routine mutilations. But perhaps the worst part about the farm is that it is not ‘one bad apple’. It is simply a typical factory farm and it exposes the reality of where animal products come from.
From farrowing crates to caged chickens and routine mutilations from tail docking to teeth clipping, people can often see that animal welfare is dismissed in factory farming’s mantra of ‘profit above everything else’. Factory farming inflicts untold suffering on approximately one billion land animals in the UK every year, all to create cheap meat, dairy and eggs, with profit prioritised above everything else.
Three in four of the world’s new or emerging diseases come from animals. Responsible for nearly three million deaths a year, these diseases are largely transmitted through trading wildlife (legally and illegally) and factory farming. Covid-19 is just one of many zoonotic diseases including SARS, MERS, Ebola and HIV – all of which came from animals – and new viruses are appearing with increasing frequency. It is a stark warning of what’s to come if we don’t act now.
It would be impossible for factory farms to function without widespread use of antibiotics as the animals are forced to live in filthy, unhygienic conditions where diseases spread rapidly. Scientists are warning that we are on the edge of an antibiotic resistance apocalypse and that antibiotic resistance is driven by the overuse of antibiotics in farmed animals. For example, the ‘last resort’ drug in human medicine – colistin – has started to fail, and experts point to the overuse of colistin in pig farming as the reason. If we enter a post-antibiotic world, it will result in several millions of preventable deaths every year. More people will die through antibiotic resistance than from cancer.
Factory farming is costing the earth too, at a time when we need to do everything we can to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Meat, dairy and egg production are responsible for 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, while animal products provide just 18 per cent of calories and 37 per cent of protein levels around the world (Poore, 2018). The most comprehensive analysis of the impact of farming showed conclusively that going vegan is the single biggest action individuals can take for the planet.
Piglets have their teeth clipped and their tails cut off with no painkillers. Those who are too small or sickly to be profitable are ‘knocked’ – their heads are smashed against the metal bars of their mother’s farrowing crate, where she is confined for five or six weeks, unable even to turn around. After six months, pigs are slaughtered.
Tens of thousands of male calves are killed shortly after birth because they don’t produce milk and aren’t as profitable as beef breeds. Females are separated from their mother, are forcibly impregnated, and their babies are removed so that we can drink their milk. When dairy cows’ milk yield starts to decline, they are killed.
Beef cattle farming is becoming increasingly intensified, and ‘zero-grazing’ is becoming more commonplace, where cattle are kept in barren units and fed unnatural diets designed to make them put on weight more quickly. Calves are castrated and dehorned, two mutilations which cause chronic pain and are routinely performed without painkillers. Half of all cattle killed for beef originate from the dairy herd, and the two industries are inextricably linked.
The average 42-day lifespan of a ‘meat chicken’, commonly known as a broiler, is spent inside a foul-smelling, often windowless shed with tens of thousands of other birds. As these young animals pile on the weight, their underdeveloped bones are unable to support them and many end up crippled or lame. Over one billion chickens are killed every year – three million a year – and more than 95 per cent are reared in intensive factory farms.
Male chicks are killed at one day old as they cannot produce eggs. Females have their beaks mutilated and are either caged or kept in confined conditions. Artificial lighting and selective breeding means these hens produce ten times more eggs than they naturally should. As a result, they are exhausted at just one to two years old and killed at a fraction of their natural life expectancy.
In the UK there are around 10 million turkeys farmed at any one time, the vast majority of which are factory farmed. They are selectively bred to grow quickly and often suffer from agonising leg disorders, joint degeneration and heart disease. The industrial units frequently lack appropriate environmental enrichment, causing extreme stress and unnatural behaviours such as cannibalism.
The majority of ducks are reared indoors in the UK. Up to 10,000 ducks are crammed together in each shed with dim but almost constant lighting on a straw litter floor. Little or no night-time rest is provided so that they continue to eat around the clock and gain weight rapidly. The majority of ducks and geese are gassed to death.
Industrial fishing nets scoop up everything in their path, destroying coral reefs, ecosystems and killing ‘by-catch’ fish who are just dumped back into the ocean, such as turtles and dolphins. Farmed fishing, known as aquaculture, is growing rapidly. Fish are crammed into confined cage systems, where disease and suffering is rife.
Between June and November 2020, Viva! investigated four rainbow trout farms supplying high-end supermarkets and ‘luxury’ food retailers including Waitrose, Abel & Cole, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. Instead of crystal-clear chalk stream water, the trout were found severely overcrowded in filthy ponds suffering from extreme stress, abrasive injury and predation.
Footage from an undercover investigation into three British intensive Red Tractor turkey farms – East Farm, Norfolk and two Gloucestershire-based farms Clearwell and Strawberry Hill reveals shocking scenes of suffering and abject animal cruelty, all for the sake of Christmas dinner.
Alarming scenes captured at Scottish salmon farms supplying Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons and M&S reveal putrid conditions that lead to invasions of parasitic sea lice. Painful non-medicinal lice management systems that breach basic animal welfare standards on the treatment of farmed animals were also filmed – one of which was operating in a designated Special Area of Conservation and Marine Protected Area famous for its rare flame shell bed.
Red Tractor suspends Flat House pig farm in Leicestershire, stating to be ‘appalled’ by barbaric conditions captured by undercover investigators for Viva! Campaigns. The disturbing footage highlights a clear lack of care for severely sick and dying animals, housed in squalid conditions that pose a serious health risk.
An undercover investigation into farms supplying pig meat to Morrisons reveals workers brutally killing young pigs, mutilating others and leaving dead animals out in the open. Both Calvesley and Whiteshoot farms were subsequently suspended from the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme.
HOGWOOD: a modern horror story shows the concerted efforts to silence Viva! and exposes the negligence and inaction by government bodies and corporations alike. The film follows the Viva! Campaigns team as they enter some of Britain’s biggest factory farms for the very first time and sheds new light on the shocking things that lie beyond the public gaze. It explores why factory farming is supported and follows the brave fight to expose the truth and change the world.
We’re calling on the UK government to take action on our food production systems and defend public health by promoting veganism as a solution and ending factory farming, before it ends us.
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Viva! poll – 9 in 10 Britons want intensive farming methods banned amid virus fears
Turkeys ‘kicked hundreds of times and left wounded at farms supplying Sainsbury and Asda’
‘Putrid’ salmon farms infested with flesh-eating lice threaten wildlife in oceans
Starving pigs are caught on film resorting to cannibalism in a shocking catalogue of neglect unveiled at ‘high standards’ farm
Starving pigs ‘forced to eat each other in shocking catalogue of neglect at “high standards” farm’
The Daily Mail
Horrifying undercover footage shows pig farm worker slamming piglets into concrete floor while others are thrown into metal troughs as food regulators launch investigation