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Practical Issues > Factory Farming - Index

The (Very Short) Life of Factory-Farmed Animals
From The Guardian, UK National Daily Newspaper, January 20, 1995.

DAIRY COWS

Natural lifespan: 20 years
Factory-farmed lifespan: 5-6 years, by which time most are exhausted from the baby and milk drain. Only 25 per cent get to seven, when their milk would be at its richest.
Natural diet: Grass and natural herbs
Farmed diet: Grass, silage, cemented grass, manure, recycled cattle faeces, contaminated sheep offal.
Natural habitat: Grassy fields.
Unnatural habitat: Out in summer, but concrete cubicles with slatted floors in winter.
Natural behavior: Grazing, sleeping, ruminating.
Confined behavior: Distressed at not being able to ruminate, they take to bar biting. Suffer mastitis, and are lame. Unable to suckle young because already being milked for humans.
 

MALE CALF (for VEAL)

Natural lifespan: 20 years.
Factory-farmed lifespan: 3 to 16 weeks.
Natural diet: Grass and milk.
Farmed diet: Fed exclusively on milk to induce anemia and produce sought after white meat. Deprived of essential iron and fiber.
Natural habitat: Grassy fields.
Unnatural habitat: At one week, confined to crates too cramped to turn in. Sent abroad, often without food and water, in lorries so tightly packed they can't lie down.
Natural behavior: Feeding, sleeping, ruminating.
Confined behavior: Try to move but can't. Desperate for solids, they lick wooden crates and swallow their own hair.
 

SHEEP

Natural lifespan: 12 years.
Factory-farmed lifespan: Three months for lambs.
Natural diet: Grass and natural herbs.
Farmed diet: Same when out in the open, pelleted foods when indoors.
Natural habitat: High ground.
Unnatural habitat: We allow them their high ground because it's cost-effective (the grass is poor)
Natural behavior: Grazing.
Confined behavior: Drugs used to squeeze in three lambings every two years. Sex hormones used to synchronize births. Lambs should be born in spring, but now born out of season and many freeze to death.
 

CHICKENS

Natural lifespan: Seven years.
Factory-farmed lifespan: One day for male chicks of egg producing hens. They are crushed to death because we don't like taste. Six weeks for broiler chickens.
Natural diet: Mixed grains, grubs and worms.
Farmed diet: High-fat prepared foods, antibiotics and hormones to quicken fattening process.
Natural habitat: Semi-wild area where can peck food.
Unnatural habitat: Broilers live in sheds in perpetual twilight, in space equivalent to stuffing a budgie in a jam jar.
Natural behavior: Pecking for food, freedom to move around, dust bathing.
Confined behavior: Broilers can't stretch wings, no room to make nest, can't peck for food. Stressed, they peck each others feathers out and resort to cannibalism, so are de-beaked to protect farmer's stock.
 

PIGS

Natural lifespan: 15 years.
Factory-farmed lifespan: 5-6 months
Natural diet: Omnivorous: tubers and roots using snouts
Farmed diet: Pellets of processed foods.
Natural habitat: Border of woodland. Pigs build 1-metre high nest to give birth.
Unnatural habitat: Most pigs never see trees, let alone grass. They give birth in a farrowing crate in which they can't turn round and keep hitting the metal bars.
Natural behavior: Rooting for food, keen on cleanliness.
Confined behaviour: Depressed, they become unclean, frustrated at being unable to root for food and exercise they bite off tails and resort to cannibalism.
 

HUMANS

Natural lifespan: We'd love to know.
Factory-farmed lifespan: 73 male, 78.5 female.
Natural diet: Semi-wild hunter gatherer existing mainly off roots and tubers and some meat.
Farmed diet: Processed beef, anaemic veal, drugged eggs to give artificially yellow yolk, chocolate, Coke.
Natural habitat: Border of woodland.
Unnatural habitat: City centres, offices, M25 motorway.
Natural behaviour: Warm, gregarious, loving, with a heart of gold and a survival instinct.
Confined behaviour: Aggressive ("road rage", kicking photocopiers in office etc.) terse, vengeful, depressed, nihilistic, introverted.

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