Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
A systematic practise where large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at a minimal cost. It is a method of creating animal production on a mass scale. A large number of animals are raised in small spaces to minimize cost and maximize production.
Factory farming is a notable development in the fields of agriculture. In factory farming, industrial factory production methods and principles are implemented. In a small confined area, a large number of animals are raised together and different agricultural technologies are used to maximize production.
Antibiotics and vaccines facilitated raising livestock in larger numbers by reducing disease. Livestock is injected with antibiotics to stimulate artificial growth.
In factory farming, we use intensive methods to keep livestock in controlled conditions for better and quick results. The main products of factory farming are meat, dairy products, and eggs. Cattle, poultry, pigs are the main livestock that is mainly used in animal farming.
Factory farming has been proposed as a method to solve the hunger problem that might come with a rapidly growing population in the near future. Factory farming wants to keep production costs low and sell cheaper food to consumers.
A Brief History
Factory farming took root in the latter part of the 19th century along with the industrial revolution. It is the result of scientific research and technological advancements.
The automated workplace also helped in boosting productivity. Automation made it possible to do more on a farm with less manpower. The Discovery of vaccines, antibiotics made the mass production of animal products possible.
In the late 1920s, poultry became the first large-scale farmed animal. Computerized feeding machines, watering systems, and waste removal technologies significantly reduced the cost of production. For nearly a half-decade chickens were only factory-farmed animals.
Later in the 1970s pig farmers started factory farming too which was a huge success. Later cow farmers also started factory farming. Today, roughly 94% of all animals farmed for human consumption are raised on factory farms.
Pros and Cons of Factory Farming
Factory farming allows the raising of animals in order to maximize profit. The food products are cheaper and easily available. While there are also drawbacks to this technology. Let’s discuss some pros and cons of factory farming:
Pros of Factory Farming
1. Inexpensive Food Products
Lesser production cost is one of the major advantages of factory farming which has a direct effect on the cost of the products. Factory farming allows the production of animal products at a large economic scale which eventually leads to a decrease in the cost of products.
Due to the advancements of technology, the production cost is decreased hence the animal products are much cheaper. It helps both the market and farm to make a profit without affecting the consumers.
2. More Efficient
The use of modern technologies makes it possible for farmers to manage higher yields with minimal cost. Automation removes the headache of manual labourers who need to keep the farm running and saves much capital.
It also allows animal products to reach the market faster. Use of medicines, vaccines, vitamins helps to raise livestock much faster and rapid weight gain. It implements a faster, cheaper method of production which makes the whole process efficient and saves money as well.
3. Can be Placed in Any Location
In factory farming, space is utilized in an efficient manner. Within a small space, a large number of animals can be raised. Since factory farming doesn’t need a huge space for farming as much more animals can be raised in a given area of land. So it can be established anywhere in a small space. Farms can be built in almost all parts of our planet with no geographic limitation.
4. Availability of Food is Faster
It takes significantly less amount of time for livestock to become ready for consumer i.e. market. The use of modern technologies made livestock product production much faster. For example, it takes a chicken about 50% less time to be ready for processing without changing the weight profile and cattle is about 300 pounds heavier in its final weight .less Production time also decreases production cost.
5. Lengthens Food Availability
New technologies for storage, processing, and transportation allows food products to last longer. This also reduces the food wastage which is one of the major problems in today’s scenario. It allows for a wider variety of food choices to be available at the market throughout the year.
6. Helps Local Economy
The establishment of a factory farm requires manpower which will create job opportunities for the local population. It might be an important source of income for the local population. Jobs such as supervisor, meat processors, drivers, etc. helps many people economically. Sales of the products at the local level provides many employment opportunities. So a factory farm can help the local community in many ways.
Cons of Factory Farming
1. Animals are Treated Cruelly
This is one of the major issues with factory farming. Animals are treated poorly and kept in tight spaces. Some animals are even kept in cages that restrict movement and are penned up quite close to each other. There isn’t sufficient space for movement which hurts the animals most.
They live in cramped spaces without a place to move or breathe normally is an example of how much torture they endure on a daily basis. Animals suffer a lot during their stay in the farms. Animal rights activists have been raising the topic over a long duration of time.
2. Increased fat Content in Meat
Intensive farming methods focus on the results of production instead of the processes used to achieve results. Animals in farms are feed with concentrated feed and they aren’t allowed to move which fat content in the meat. The fat content of chicken is over 220% higher today than it was in the 1950s. Higher fat content in food leads to serious health issues such as obesity, heart attack, etc.
3. Global Warming
One of the major cons of factory farming is it contributes to global warming. The production and processing of animal products result in the emission of dangerous gases that affect our environment.
Factory farming leads to the emission of harmful gases such as methane which is greenhouse gas. Hence factory farming has a direct effect on global warming.
4. Affects Environment
The animals’ waste and excreta cause extensive damage to the environment. These wastes contaminate the soil and water which eventually affects the environment around us. In order to feed animals, plenty of fertilizer has to be used to increase the production of crops. The use of fertilizer pollutes both soil and water.
5. Health Issues
In farms, animals are raised using various unnatural methods as vaccines, antibiotics, and various medicines are used to increase productivity. For this reason, factory farming is regarded as a serious health risk.
Excessive use of antibiotics in farming might make humans resistant to antibiotics in the future. Dangerous pathogens and bacteria might be present in meat lead to increases in health risks.
The pros and cons of factory farming explained above would have painted a rough picture of factory farming. The technique has contributed to increased production of food at cheaper rates in a short amount of time. However, animals suffer a lot of pain and there are a lot of health risks related to it.
There are many benefits of the process but there are also great risks associated with it that must be taken into consideration. With the rapidly growing population, factory farming ensures to feed the more mouths efficiently and emerges out to be a beneficial solution. Factory farming surely has its place in the future, but it must be properly regulated and controlled.