Ripped Apart - An Examination of Animal Maltreatment in Factory Farming | Teen Ink

Ripped Apart - An Examination of Animal Maltreatment in Factory Farming

February 15, 2014
By MeriElena GOLD, Kernersville, North Carolina
MeriElena GOLD, Kernersville, North Carolina
16 articles 9 photos 2 comments

In America, and in an increasing number of other countries around the world, factory farms are used to raise animals for human consumption. Farm Sanctuary defines factory farms as “large numbers of animals being raised in extreme confinement” (“Factory Farming”). As indicated by Schlosser, these operations subject animals to excessively cruel lives and deaths.

Although specifics vary with species, the general circumstances that define factory farming animals are fairly uniform. Shortly after birth, animals are taken from their mothers and prepared for life on the farm—this involves searing off the tips of chicks’ beaks and toes, the castration of male ruminants, and docking tails, without any type of anesthesia (Farm Sanctuary). These mutilations are intended to prevent potentially profit-lowering disruptions on the order of overstressed hens pecking each other to death. Unwanted animals, for instance those with terminal birth defects or male chicks in the egg industry and male calves in the dairy industry, are sorted out and killed. The animals who survive the first few days of life are placed in tight enclosures, where they will spend the rest of their lives.

Those animals that are meant to produce more than meat have longer, if more traumatizing, existences than those destined only for slaughter. Both groups of animals live in intense confinement, packed close together, often standing in or above their wastes. Both are fed diets containing such unnatural substances as antimicrobials (Guide) and the entrails of their own species (Schlosser 272-3). However, there are myriad injustices peculiar to production factory farm animals. Egg-laying hens are starved at regular intervals for up to two weeks to shock them into each consecutive laying cycle as quickly as possible (Guide). Dairy cows are artificially inseminated repeatedly to assure that they produce milk at all times, though the constant milking causes painful udder infections (“Factory Farming”). After production animals begin to produce less, as a result of age or the physical abuse of the production process, they join their fellows that were raised for meat at the slaughterhouse.

The worst of the atrocities committed to food animals occur at the slaughterhouse. A slaughterhouse employee once reported:
“I've seen live animals shackled, hoisted, stuck, and skinned. Too many to count, too many to remember. It's just a process that's continually there. I've seen shackled beef looking around before they've been stuck…I've seen hogs in the scalding tub trying to swim" (Kretzer).
Frantic line speeds make slaughter a sloppy job (Guide), and animals frequently are not stunned by the electric current or killed by the throat slicing; they travel down the line and are ripped apart alive.

Agribusiness is “championing…[a] centralized system of production, one in which livestock…are viewed purely as commodities” (Schlosser 266). An obsession with profit and production has created an industry that willfully perpetrates animal maltreatment. In most cases, the animals could be raised and slaughtered in a humane manner, despite industry’s protests of prohibitive expense. Schlosser cites as an example how McDonalds, Inc. caved to public pressure and instituted a program of humane slaughter, without an ensuing financial crisis (282). Regardless, the practices cited in this essay are ingrained in the meat production industry and appear unlikely to be ameliorated barring a major initiative towards change.

The author's comments:
This was, as you may suspect from the academic bent, an essay written for school. It is also a true expression of my opinions on the subject of animal cruelty in the factory farming industries. I am a proud vegetarian, so obviously this is a topic close to my heart. Some of the details I use are graphic, but I try not to be indecent.

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