What we once called a farm is now more a concentration camp than a farm.
The move toward mass-production of meat from animals has led to the industrialized factory farm, where even the space occupied by each animal has been fastidiously minimized, allowing animals to occupy and utilize only what is consistent with the operation's maximum efficiency and their rapid weight gain. Unnatural crowding is offset by diets laced with antibiotics under the intensely cramped conditions, only to reduce the possible spread of disease.. indeed a growing problem for animals and human populations alike. Other serious problems arise from factory farming, such as waste handling reservoirs that often pollute watersheds and land.
In a typical factory farm, livestock move about in cramped cages and cubicles designed not to provide living space but to merely keep them separated from their own waste. Females and males face equally cruel fates. Males may be immediately "rendered" into meal, even a day after being born (approx 200 million male chicks every year are rendered immediately after birth). Hens are subject to battery cages with as little as one square foot of living space. Female mammals are artificially inseminated and spend much of their lives confined in cement-lined breeding stalls as nothing more than litter-making machines, and rarely have more than a brief period with their offspring following birth. The young, stressed from early weaning, are introduced to feed concentrates, the formulation of which often makes them ill-nourished and sick, although fat and heavy, such that they would not even live longer than the time their processing or "rendering point" arrives. Everything is done to maximize growth and increase an animal's weight in the least amount of time without the least regard for the animal as a sentient being with thoughts, awareness and will and strong feelings and emotions for its young.
The horrors of this method of industrial food production are shocking. CAFO's are places where animals endure a tortured existence before meeting the end of their brief lives, likely often sensing what they have been raised and confined all their lives for. All the while a constant stress and palpable fear must certainly arise from living in such utterly unnatural surroundings.
The fact becomes strikingly clear that there is no chance for any meaningful life whatsoever for an animal under such conditions. Such are the atrocities of life on a factory farm.
The book is deeply moving and an eye-opener, and very much needed to show just how the proliferation of such operations continues, partly because so few of us know of this, while so many of us unknowingly support these facilities by uninformed choices and purchases... We all need to know what pure living hell-holes such "farming" facilities are for the creatures born into them.
When the animals placed in our stewardship are considered little more than meat-making machines we too lose an essential part of our humanity.
Since reading this book, I raise the topic as an issue whenever I can, in attempts to bring people to realize how insouciant and wicked it is to ignore the injustices imposed by human beings upon animals, due to the indoctrination and widespread lack of conscience and knowledge in human carnism.
It would undoubtedly be best if humans stopped eating meat altogether. Yet actually the number of vegetarians in the US is surprisingly low, only about two percent of the population. Short of this we can only hope to stop CAFO methods when we individually demand to know the conditions under which animal-derived food is produced... and choose to avoid that from US factory farms or non-domestic facilities where animals endure such conditions. We should be moved to do so... just as we would be moved to stop the abuses of a pet, or any animal we valued for companionship. There is, in all actuality, very little difference between animals consumed by us and our beloved pets, as many conscientious traditional farmers and 4-H members do readily attest.