Worldwide, more than 150 billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption every year. This number excludes the millions of animals killed each year in vivisection laboratories. It excludes the millions of dogs and cats killed in animal shelters every year. It excludes the animals who died while held captive in the animal-slavery enterprises of circuses, rodeos, zoos, and marine parks. It excludes animal deaths in blood sports as bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting, and bear-baiting; it also excludes horses and greyhounds who were exterminated after they were no longer deemed suitable for racing.
The confinement, suffering and torture these animals endure is not quantifiable. If you want to learn more about animal product industries there are many visual resources that can convey the situation better than words. Farm to Fridge is a great video, it is only 12 minutes long and it succinctly explains animal agribusiness industry standard practices. The video is graphic in parts and can be difficult to watch for some viewers; but it is important that you educate yourself on what the reality for the animals is. If you can't watch it right away, just listen to the sound first, or watch the video with no sound first. To the right of the video is a transcript if you prefer to read before watching (scrollbar will appear when curser hovers over that text).
Farm to Fridge
In the next few minutes you will be given an eye opening look behind the closed doors of modern farms, hatcheries and slaughter plants, revealing the journey that animals make from farm to fridge.
For nearly their entire 4 months' pregnancies, mother sows are locked in narrow metal stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Many of the animals develop open sores and scratches. Workers often kick, hit and yell at pigs to move them. Soon after birth, piglets are castrated by workers who cut into their skin and rip out their testicles. Next, the workers chop off their tails. Both of these painful procedures are nearly always done without anesthesia. Many animals die from batch mutilations. Piglets who become sick or injured or who are not growing quickly enough are killed.
Common killing methods include throwing animals into bins and painfully gassing them with carbon dioxide.Others are killed by being slammed, head first, into the ground.
At a factory farm in Ohio, workers kill injured sows by hanging them on a forklift to be slowly strangled to death, a practice defended by the pork industry.
Pigs raised for meat typically live only 5 to 6 months, a mere fraction of their natural lifespan, in overcrowded pens, like these.
Workers frequently tattoo the animals with ID numbers by hitting them with metal spike mallets.
Once pigs have reached market weight, they are sent to slaughter. At the slaughterhouse pigs are knocked in the head with a steel road, hung upside down and have their throat slit.
Improper stunning condemns many pigs to having their throats slit while they are fully conscious, and suffering.Others are even scolded alive in the hair removal tanks.
From the moments they hatch, the egg industry subjects chicks to horrors few of us can even imagine.
At the hatchery, workers quickly and roughly sort the males from the females. Because male chicks don't lay eggs, and do not grow quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat, they are killed within hour after hatching. Male chicks are typically thrown into giant grinding machines while still alive. This practice is deemed standard and acceptable by the egg industry.
Another killing method is to drop male chicks into trash bags to be smothered or suffocated.
More than 200 millions unwanted male chicks are killed on their first day of life each year in the United States.
The females have it even worse, destined for a life of prolonged cruelty.
To reduce pecking, induced by overcrowded living conditions, workers use a hot blade or laser to remove part of the chicks' beaks.
This mutilation can cause both acute and chronic pain. After debeaking, the birds are moved to cages, where they will spend the rest of their lives.Nearly 95% of egg lying hens spend their lives confined in tiny wired cages like these. Most birds never see sunlight or breathe fresh air. They are packed so tightly, they cannot even spread their wings, walk or turn around without pushing other birds aside. The harsh and unrelenting environment of the cage takes its toll, often leading to severe feather loss, open wounds and birds trapped in cage wire.For many hens, the stressful confinement is too much, leading to premature death.
Undercover investigations at egg farms from coast to coast, reveal a culture of cruelty and neglect, including workers stomping on birds, throwing live hens on death piles and in trash cans and painfully mangling birds' spines in butch attempts to break their necks.
At 1 or 2 years of age, when the hen's egg production begins to decline, she's violently ripped from her cage.Workers often fling the birds into metal carts, where they are painfully suffocated with carbon dioxide.
Crowded by the thousands into filthy sheds, chickens and turkeys are denied many of their most basic natural behavior and needs, such as fresh air and exercise.
Through genetic selection, chickens and turkeys raised for meat have being bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many suffer crippling leg disorders, chronic joint pain, and even fatal heart attacks. Sick or injured birds often have their necks broken. Others are clubbed to death. Those who live to reach market weight are thrown into transport crates and loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter plants.
Handling is often violent, and frequently causes bruises, broken bones and other injuries. At the slaughter plant, birds are dumped from their crates and roughly snapped upside down into moving shackles by their fragile legs.
From there, the birds are dragged through an electrified vat of water, which renders them paralyze, but not necessarily unconscious.They are then pulled across a blade which slices their throat, causing blood to pour from their necks. Some of the birds who miss the blade have their throats slit or their heads ripped off by a back up killer.
Other birds are drown and scolded in the tanks of how water, designed to loosen the birds' feathers.
Cows produce milk for the same reasons that humans do, to nourish their young. But calves in dairy farms are dragged away from their mothers and violently killed.All so the humans can have their milk instead.
The majority of today’s dairy cows are confined on factory farms, some spend almost their entire lives standing on concrete floors, others are cramped into massive mud lots.
Workers subject young cows to painful mutilations, and amputations. Here, a worker cuts off a cow's tail, slicing through her sensitive skin, nerves and bone without any pain killers. Another routine practice is de-horning: Burning into the calves' skulls to remove their very horns. Painkillers are rarely used.
A 2010 undercover investigation at a dairy farm in Ohio revealed a farm worker stabbing cows with pitchforks, beating them in the head with crowbars and punching baby calves.
Injuries and illness often run rampant in filthy, diseased ridden factory farms environments.
Cows too sick or injured to stand are called downers, and are often left to slowly suffer and die from their injuries.
At a fraction of their natural lifespan, the so-called spent dairy cows are prodded onto transports trucks, and shipped to slaughterhouses.
An undercover investigation at a slaughterhouse in California revealed down dairy cows being kicked, shocked, pushed with forklifts and water hosed in the mouth and nostrils in an effort to get them to the kill floor. Most cattle raised for beef endure several mutilations without painkillers, including castration and hot iron branding.
Most spend the last few months of their lives in overcrowded feedlots, standing in their own waste.
Unreliable stunning practices at the slaughterhouse condemn many cattle to having their throats cut, their limbs hacked off, while still alive and conscious.
Undercover investigations at kosher slaughterhouses in the United States have documented the routine practice of cutting open the throats of fully aware and alert cattle.
Fish and other sea animals are sensitive, intelligent creatures who have a demonstrated capacity to suffer pain.
Massive trawling nets indiscriminately drag hundreds of tons of fish and other animals along the ocean floor. As they are dragged up from the ocean's depths, the fish undergo excruciatingly painful decompression.
The extreme changes in pressure can rupture their swim bladders and pop up their eyes. They are then tossed on board where the surviving fish either suffocated or are crashed to death.Others are still alive when they are hacked apart on this floating slaughter houses.
Untold millions of dolphins, turtles and other non-targeted aquatic animals are also killed by ocean trawling nets each year.
Today, approximately 1 in 5 fish consumed worldwide is raised in captivity.
Like factory farm animals on land, farm raised fish are crowded by the tens of thousands, in small, diseased and excrement ridden areas for their entire lives.
When fish reach market weight, they are loaded onto tanker trucks and shipped to slaughter, where common killing methods include slow suffocation.
Farm animals are every bit as intelligent, curious and capable of feeling pain and suffering as the dogs and cats so many of us know and love.
If you are at all moved by this film, please do your part.
Make a commitment today to explore a vegan diet.
By withdrawing our support of this cruel and violent system, we can put our ethics on the table and make a statement for a kinder and more compassionate society for all animals.
Abuses such as those seen above are not aberrant. They are standard in animal agribusiness. The United States is not the only country that has provisions in the law that legalize animal abuse. The lengthy investigation conducted in Spain is an example of abusiveness documented across the countries Pig farming industry. Many of the farms investigated also touted humane standards and awards.
Animal Equality Pig Farm Investigation
Animal Equality has carried out an exhaustive investigation into 172 Spanish pig farms, documenting the lives and deaths of pigs over a period of more than two years - from August 2007 until May 2010 - on farms and in slaughterhouses throughout Spain.
The Spanish pig industry kills more than 40 million pigs a year to satisfy society’s demand for meat. All these animals are born and live horribly in some 10,000 farms. In this film you will be able to see what no one has shown until now, a new dimension, in fear, suffering and death.
Gestation: So called “breeding sows” are used as machines to produce piglets. They are genetically selected to withstand between six and eight births, with 12 or more offspring in each litter, and their lives are reduced to a state of permanent confinement in narrow metal stalls.
Identification: To better keep track of the exploited animals, some farms insert a microchip in the ears of the sows, which is very painful.
Insemination: Before inseminating the sows, the farmer must check if they are receptive. Two methods are used. The first involves using a boar to detect if the sow is in heat from her smell. In general, the presence of a boar helps to insure that a sow will go into heat again after her babies have been weaned. In the second method the farmer himself will verify her fertility by using a heat detector or observing how the sow reacts when he presses on her back. When she is in heat, she does not move.
Once her state of her fertility is known insemination follows. To force the female into the required position, the farmer does not hesitate to resort to blows, kicks, tail pulling, shoving and shouting. Next the farmer cleans the sow’s vulva and inserts semen of the selected boars into the female, by a tube of around 50 centimeters in length. No physical contact occurs between the boars and the sows; nor is the development of natural behavior permitted.
Confinement and gestation: A sow’s pregnancy lasts between 110 and 120 days and the first month is spent confined in narrow sow stalls, also known as gestation crates. They are unable to move due to the size of the stalls. Distressed by the lack of space, they desperately try to escape. The constant friction of these animals’ bodies against the bars of the stalls causes painful injuries which become infected from the lack of hygiene.
These sociable and curious animals end up displaying neurotic behavior. They bite the bars or bang their heads against them, all of which are symptoms of the severe psychological distress they are suffering. After a month in the gestation crates, the sows are transferred to another area, where they remain in groups. This worker can be seen inserting his fingers into this pig’s eyes to get her to turn around.
Maternity: Piglets arrive into the world upon concrete, plastic, or metal floors, surrounded by excrement and the bodies of still-born siblings. Many of them, roughly 10% die soon after birth, after hours or even days of suffering. Miscarriages are frequent, although not all are born dead. Some premature piglets agonize for hours before dying. Sows who miscarry are marked and a recurrence means they will be sent to the slaughterhouse.
Again, we see how blows are used, this time to force a pig who has just given birth onto her feet, and the farmer checks if her other babies are still alive by introducing more than half his arm into her uterus. This worker is collecting the remains of miscarriages and the bodies of dead babies. Pigs possess a strong maternal instinct but the cages prevent them from giving any type of care to their babies.
The suffering of this mother can be felt as she watches her baby die in front of her eyes without being able to do anything to help her. In nature the mother pig will build a nest where she can give birth comfortably and look after her babies. This soft bed would give warmth and lessen the impact of any crushing. On a farm however, the mother will frequently crush a baby due to her lack of space and the concrete floor.
Many piglets do not die immediately after being crushed but are paralyzed and spend days suffering. Due to the slatted floors used on the farm, on many occasions the piglets’ feet get trapped in the slats causing bone breakages, a problem that they will drag around with them during the entire process of exploitation as broken bones are rarely treated.
Behavior as natural as suckling her babies is also painful for the mother. Due to the lack of movement and space, she isn’t able to lie comfortably, or get away from her offspring when they hurt her, resulting in injuries to her teats which can become infected affecting both mother and baby. A life of slavery and hardship has serious psychological effects on the pigs.
Here we have the same, an eye infection, probably, that reach the head and finally the whole area is necrotic. The difficulty of the images is such that practically no explanation is needed of the terrible anguish and terrible suffering that these animals feel. But then too, there is the psychological stress of being locked in cages for a lifetime; which drives them crazy, they have stereotypical behaviors, they go around in the cages.
Let’s turn the clock back a little, some scientist say that within the last sixty years stocks of large fish have fallen by 90%. They are warning that we are facing a collapse of all types of fish species in less than 50 years.
The reason for this; overfishing. Longline fishing vessels deploy 1.4 billon hooks a year; 1.4 billion hooks each with a slice of fish hanging from them as bait. There are trawling vessels that casts nets with an opening of up to 23,000 meter squared; the size of four football pitches and big enough to hold 13 jumbo jets or more commonly, more than 500 tons of fish.
Amongst these 500 tons of fish there is a lot of bycatch. Bycatch is marine creatures incidentally caught often at large quantity. Typically shrimp trawlers throw 80% to 90% of the marine creatures caught back overboard. This means that for one kilo of shrimp, up to 9 kilos of other marine wildlife is caught and wasted.
To relieve the strain on wild fish, 47% of our seafood demand is farmed fish, but marine aquaculture is more of a nail in a coffin than a lifeline. Many of the farm fish are carnivorous, that is they eat other smaller fish. Five kilos of captured wild fish are needed to produce one kilo of farm reared salmon. Aquaculture just converts low value small fish into higher value bigger ones. It does not create more fish.
The majority of European fish docks are overfished. Historically EU fisheries ministers have set fishing limits exceeding scientific advice. In 2008, fishing limits were defined for the highly priced bluefin tuna. Scientists recommended a fishing limit of 10,000 tons to rebuild the increasingly depleted population. However, the EU and other fishing nations decided on a fishing limit of 29,500 tons, three times what scientists had suggested. Then despite this already inflated limit, 61,000 ton of bluefin tuna were caught. That is six times more than the recommended limit. Billions of euro in public subsidies are fueling this overfishing. If this continues, soon there will be no fish left. How do we end overfishing?
Animal exploitation in any form is wrong and we must all take the necessary measures to do our part in changing the world for them. There are some very simple things anyone and everyone can do to alleviate animal suffering and help completely end culturally accepted forms of animal abuse.
1) Become vegan. Veganism is the #1 best thing anyone can do to help end animal cruelty.
2) Never breed or buy animals. There are so many animals literally dying in shelters across the country because they don't have a home; adopt instead.
3) Only support cruelty-free products an businesses. This is so easy and even someone who is not completely vegan yet can withdraw their money and support from companies that test products on animals. There is a cruelty free alternative for almost anything one could need from personal care products to household products. Of course no product is truly cruelty free though unless it is also vegan.