Factory farming was established following World War II as a means to produce large amounts of food at a minimal cost. It is an intensive form of farming that encourages high levels of production with low costs. The farms are said to be run more like factories than farms.
Farmers and those in the farming industry do not refer to it as factory farming, but instead, call it industrial farming or intensive farming. While factory farming is not inherently a bad practice, it can lead to poor conditions for animals and, for example in the prophylactic administration of antibiotics, it can also cause harm to people.
There are also environmental concerns relating to factory farming. Below are 16 statistics related to factory farming in Canada, including statistics on the number of animals slaughtered every year for food consumption, and some of the conditions faced by factory-farmed animals.
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The 16 Canadian Factory Farming Statistics
- Globally, 60 billion animals are used to produce food every year.
- 800 million animals are slaughtered for food every year in Canada.
- Canadians consume 76 pounds of chicken, 37 pounds of beef, and 32 pounds of pork, per person per year.
- Canada is the world’s 8th largest meat-consuming nation.
- Canadians eat 242 eggs a year on average.
- Three-quarters of antibiotics in the world are used on factory-farmed animals.
- Animals can spend up to 52 hours in transport with no food or water.
- Broiler chickens are fed up to reach market weight within 40 days of being born.
- Battery hen cages can be as small as 8.5 x 11 inches.
- Broiler chickens can live in sheds housing up to 50,000 animals.
- 97% of Canadian farms are family owned.
- Farm livestock can only be given antibiotics if they have a prescription for the medication.
- A third of Canadians have reduced or eliminated their meat consumption.
- 60% of people agree that antibiotics in animal feed contribute to superbugs in humans.
- 60% of people believe antibiotics should not be added to feed prophylactically.
- 90% want to minimize chicken suffering, even if it means higher food prices.
Global and Canadian Farming Figures
1. Globally, 60 billion animals are used to produce food every year.
(Compassion in Food Business)
Sixty billion animals are used to produce food, globally, every single year, and the figure is increasing. This equates to around eight animals per person with the main animals being used for food production being chickens, cows, sheep, and pigs. The figure also includes other animals.
2. 800 million animals are slaughtered for food every year in Canada.
(Humane Canada), (Weforum)
In Canada alone, 800 million animals are slaughtered every year for food, including poultry, cattle, and sheep. Globally, it is believed that 19 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cows, 1 billion sheep, and another billion pigs are being kept for food production. About 50 billion chickens alone are killed every year for food around the world.
3. Canadians consume 76 pounds of chicken, 37 pounds of beef, and 32 pounds of pork, per person per year.
Although pork is the most popular meat in the world, accounting for 36% of all meat consumed, chicken is the most heavily consumed meat in Canada by a considerable margin. The average Canadian consumes 76 pounds of chicken compared to 37 pounds of beef and 32 pounds of pork.
4. Canada is the world’s 8th largest meat-consuming nation.
(Newswire 1), (Worldometers)
Canada is the 39th most populous nation in the world, accounting for less than 0.5% of the total global population. Despite this, for meat consumption rate, the country is the world’s largest 8th largest consumer. North American meat consumption is expected to grow by 9% by 2030, which would represent a significant increase in the number of animals farmed, as well as the amount of meat consumed.
5. Canadians eat 242 eggs a year on average.
Chickens are a popular food source because they can be reared for meat, but also for eggs. A typical laying hen can lay 340 eggs or more a year, which means with a commercial flock consisting of several thousand laying hens, a farm can produce around a million eggs per annum. While this figure sounds like a lot, it is required to keep up with consumption as the average Canadian consumes more than 240 eggs, per capita per year.
The Negative Impact of Factory Farming
6. Three-quarters of antibiotics in the world are used on factory-farmed animals.
As well as the potential suffering of factory farm animals, some factory farming practices can have a detrimental effect on consumers, too. One way that consumers are harmed through factory farming comes as a result of feeding antibiotics prophylactically. This means that perfectly healthy animals are given antibiotics in their feed, in a bid to prevent illness, rather than as a means of treating it.
Because humans then consume these antibiotics, it can reduce the efficacy of antibiotics given to treat infections in humans. Estimates suggest that 75% of all antibiotics in the world are used for factory farming.
7. Animals can spend up to 52 hours in transport with no food or water.
The animals also suffer in some factory farms. They endure difficult, and often inhumane living conditions, before being sent to be slaughtered or sold at markets. Even transport can be difficult for the animals: some of which are transported for up to 52 hours at a time. Not only are they moved in cramped conditions, but they can go the entire journey without being given food or water.
8. Broiler chickens are fed up to reach market weight within 40 days of being born.
(Vancouver Humane Society)
Factory farming means producing as much produce as possible while minimizing the resources used to reach this stage. Chickens tend to be the animal that endures the worst conditions. One way in which broiler chickens, which are bred for their meat production rather than their egg-laying capabilities, suffer is by being fed up and slaughtered after just a few weeks. Some are slaughtered within 40 days of being born, having been fed to market weight.
9. Battery hen cages can be as small as 8.5 x 11 inches.
(Vancouver Humane Society)
Although layers tend to live longer lives than broilers, they do not necessarily enjoy better conditions. Battery hen farming is well known for its horrible conditions, and some battery hen cages measure just 8.5 by 11 inches, which means that its occupant barely has room to pick food up from the floor and little, if any, room to move around.
10. Broiler chickens can live in sheds housing up to 50,000 animals.
(Vancouver Humane Society)
It isn’t just battery hens that are forced to live in cramped conditions, however. Broiler chicken farms tend to house between several hundred and several hundred thousand animals. On some farms, as many as 50,000 broilers are kept in a single shed, which means that they have very little room per animal.
11. 97% of Canadian farms are family owned.
Despite concerns regarding factory farming, there are some positive signs. Some claim that 97% of Canadian farms are family owned. Being family-owned doesn’t necessarily mean that the animals are kept in any better condition than those that are owned by large national organizations or conglomerates.
12. Farm livestock can only be given antibiotics if they have a prescription for the medication.
Canada has made changes to its farming laws in recent years, especially with regard to the prophylactic feeding of antibiotics to farm animals. The practice has gradually been eradicated so that farmers can now only give antibiotics to their animals if the drugs have been prescribed by a vet and for a specific health condition or problem. There are also plans for a similar phasing out of antimicrobial use.
Consumer Opinion and Changes
13. A third of Canadians have reduced or eliminated their meat consumption.
Veganism continues to rise across the world, while more people are also turning to flexitarianism. Also known as casual veganism, flexitarianism is a diet whereby followers follow a vegan or meat-free diet over a certain number of days of the week. Cutting out meat 2 days a week reduces meat consumption by nearly 30%. A 44% reduction is seen in those that avoid meat for three days a week.
14. 60% of people agree that antibiotics in animal feed contribute to superbugs in humans.
One of the reasons that prophylactic antibiotics have been ruled out is because their consumption by people can lead to the spread of superbugs. As people consume more antibiotics, their bodies become immune to the effects of the drug. As people then contract viruses, the antibiotics are less effective, or completely ineffective, and the viruses can mutate and spread.
As well as taking antibiotics prescribed by doctors, it is the consumption of food-based antibiotics that has seen a rise in superbugs in recent years. There were 6 in 10 people surveyed that said they agree that putting antibiotics in farm animal feed contributes to a rise in so-called superbugs.
15. 60% of people believe antibiotics should not be added to feed prophylactically.
Roughly the same portion of the population, approximately 60%, also said that they believe that antibiotics should not be fed prophylactically. Prophylactic administration means giving antibiotics indiscriminately to farm animals and livestock in a bid to prevent them from developing illness and infections, rather than giving the drugs when they are needed to treat an existing condition.
16. 90% want to minimize chicken suffering, even if it means higher food prices.
According to one survey, people want to see a reduction in suffering, even if it hits their own pockets. There were 9 in 10 people surveyed who said that they want to minimize the suffering of chickens and hens, even if the humane treatment of the animals would mean higher meat and egg prices.
Frequently Asked Questions About Canadian Factory Farming
What Is Considered a Factory Farm?
There are no precise definitions of a factory farm, but it is generally considered to be a farm that rears a large number of animals that are confined and have minimal movement. This reduces the amount of land and space that the farm owner needs to give over to each animal, thereby reducing their costs and maximizing output.
Why Are People Against Factory Farming?
Factory farming generally means providing very little space to each animal, and livestock is forced to live in cramped and difficult conditions. Extreme factory farming is considered inhumane for the animals, while other factory farming practices are also bad for the environment, especially in the high production of methane and greenhouse gases, and it can also lead to poor quality meat production.
How Harmful Is Factory Farming?
Factory farming can prove very harmful to the welfare of the animals. It can also lead to poor local and general environmental conditions, as well as leading to growth problems and stressful conditions for the animals, having large numbers of animals living in such close proximity can even lead to the spread of bacterial pathogens like Salmonella and E.Coli.
Factory farming, which is also called industrial farming and also referred to as intensive farming, is a type of farming that aims to maximize output while reducing costs. It typically leads to poor conditions for the animals and is also believed to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and even the contamination of water and land around the farm.
Some practices associated with factory farming, such as the prophylactic administration of antibiotics, has been phased out, but intensive farming does continue in Canada and in the rest of the world. Conditions are only likely to worsen as global meat and dairy consumption continues to increase.
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