5 of the scariest things that happen on factory farms

| Post published on October 28, 2020
minute reading time
Ridgeway Kittle Hill

The real terror is happening on factory farms this Halloween.

Halloween is coming round the corner, and for many people it’s a fun time dressing up in scary costumes, sharing spooky stories or watching horror movies.

But we don’t need to turn to fiction to have a fright; the standard treatment of farmed animals is scary enough. Perhaps the scariest thing about this list was that the difficulty was in narrowing it down to just five things when there is so much routine cruelty inflicted on farm animals every single day.


Farmed animals are mutilated

Ridgeway Kittle Hill

Piglets have their teeth clipped or pulled out and their tails cut off. Lambs are castrated and have their tails docked. Chickens and turkeys have part of their beak removed with a laser. Cattle are disbudded – a chemical is used to burn off their growing horns or a hot iron is pressed against their skulls.

These mutilations don’t just take place on the ‘one bad farm in a million’ – it’s all standard practice. They are typically done without any sort of painkiller, and inflicted on over a billion animals every year in the UK. That thought makes all those Halloween slasher movies look tame, doesn’t it?

Male chicks are gassed or macerated in the egg industry

Male chicks

Up to 40 million male chicks are gassed or minced to death in the British egg industry at just one day old – that’s whether the egg farm is branded organic, free range or battery-farmed. Male chicks don’t produce eggs and they don’t put on enough weight to be deemed profitable for the broiler chicken industry, so the industry sees gassing or macerating them to death as the simplest solution.


People are eating baby animals


A lot of people are disgusted to hear of the egg industry killing chicks at just one day old, but all farmed animals are killed at a fraction of their natural life expectancy. Chickens are killed at six weeks old when they can live up to eight years. Pigs are killed at six months old when they can live for 15 years. Lambs are killed at 1/24th of their natural life expectancy, and male dairy calves are killed when they are just one or two days old for the same reason as male chicks – they don’t produce milk, so they’re seen as worthless to the dairy industry.



Viva! has investigated farm after farm where cannibalism is widespread; the animals are kept in such unnatural, crowded conditions that they are driven to insanity and cannibalism. These animals are living through a nightmare every single day of the year.


Animals are still kept in cages

Big pig

One week before giving birth, pigs are pushed into farrowing crates – cages that are only just bigger than the pigs, and don’t allow them to move around, let alone turn around. She will be forced into the crate for the next five or six weeks, unable to nurture her piglets. Workers routinely ‘knock’ the sickest piglets, a euphemism for smashing their little heads against the metal bars of the mother’s crate to kill them.

42 per cent of egg-laying hens are still kept in cages, unable to stretch their wings and forced to live on metal wires for their entire lives. They will be killed as soon as their egg production starts to decrease at about 72 weeks old.

For farmed animals, their entire lives are full of suffering and the above facts only scratch the surface of the nightmare of animal farming. Let’s keep the horror side of halloween to the screens, and help end the nightmare of animal agriculture by choosing vegan today.

About the author
Will Sorflaten
Will is one of Viva!'s campaigners. Will has been vegan for nearly ten years, and is committed to making the world a kinder, more sustainable place through veganism. Will has a degree in English Literature from Cambridge University, and works on Viva!'s campaigns, focusing in particular on expanding collaboration on university campuses. Click here for more info.

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