October 2nd is World Day for Farmed Animals.  A day when people all over the world stand up for the billions of animals who are bred to be abused, tortured and killed in factory farms.  Since 1983, the annual observance of World Day for Farmed Animalson October 2nd has been offering people of conscience an opportunity to memorialise and mourn these innocent lives. An opportunity to ask their friends and neighbours to stop subsidising senseless atrocities at their supermarket checkout. Hundreds of groups and individuals throughout the world participate each year.

Why we need a World Day for Farmed Animals

Each year, an estimated 70 billion cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other sentient land-based animals are caged, crowded, deprived, drugged, mutilated and maceratedin the world’s factory farms. Then they are brutally slaughtered for the dinner table. Countless aquatic animals are caught and suffocated by vast trawler nets, so people can have their fish fillet or tuna salad.  When people buy and eat products made from animals, they are not only contributing to their horrific suffering, they are supporting it.  Here’s what the industries don’t tell you:

What happens to pigs on farms

Image from We Animals Media

Standard industry practices such as the use of farrowing crates and boar stalls stop pigs expressing their natural instincts and lead to psychological and health problems. Unsurprisingly, pigs on intensive pig farms are usually terrified of humans, and suffer from chronic stress. While sow stalls have been banned in some countries, mother pigs are still caged in farrowing crates after they have given birth. Nest building, for sows, is a highly motivated behaviour that helps to influence their maternal abilities. These cramped stalls however are devoid of nesting materials or any stimulation for the mother and babies. The mother lives inside this crate, providing teat access to her piglets through metal bars, until the period of weaning. Weaning ages differ depending on the country; in Australia for example, this equates to approximately 28 days of confinement. Within the confines of farrowing crates, where mothers are unable to rest from nursing duties, chronic mastitis is common. 

At just three days of age, the baby piglets have their teeth cut and their tails are docked, often without anaesthetic.  Although in nature piglets suckle from their mothers for twelve weeks, on factory farms the tiny pigs are weaned and separated from their mothers at only 3-5 weeks of age and confined in cramped pens with concrete floors. Here they are fattened in groups of a hundred to two hundred pigs before slaughter at around five months of age, without anaesthetic or pain relief. The mother’s lifespan depends on how long her body can withstand constant pregnancy, confinement, depression and deprivation.  Despite how they are raised, whether on factory facilities or free range farms, the majority of pigs are stunned in CO2 gas chambers where they suffer horrifically from their first lungful of gas, burning from the inside out. They then have their throats cut and bleed out.  To take a look inside a pig farm, watch Hogwood: A Modern Horror Story.

How you can help end their suffering – Stop eating bacon, pork and ham!

What happens to sheep on farms

Image from We Animals Media

Sheep are intelligent beings, who can recognise individual sheep and human faces. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that sheep are as smart as some primates, learning tasks relating to distinguishing shapes and colours as quickly as monkeys or humans. They are adaptable, will respond to their names and they are able to navigate by forming memories of their surrounding environments.   A 2009 study published in Animal Welfare found that sheep experience a whole range of feelings, from fear to anger, despair, boredom and happiness. 

Yet every year more than 550 million of these beautiful animals are killed, while others are neglected, mistreated, or die of cold and hunger.  Over 21 million lambs are slaughtered yearly in New Zealand alone, most of them for the export market, and around four and a half million adult sheep are killed for their flesh.  The lambs are slaughtered for their meat. Because they are still babies, their flesh is more tender and considered better to eat. It is also more profitable for farmers to be responsible for the care of sheep for a shorter period of time. 

The large majority of sheep breeds are ‘dual-purpose’ as they can be exploited both for their wool and meat. This is even the case for ‘wool sheep’ like Merinos. Sheep wool is a major source of export earnings, generating millions of dollars a year.  Commercial shearing practices can be extremely stressful to sheep, especially if they are shorn twice a year. Before shearing, adult sheep who are not pregnant may be held in bare yards without food for 18-32 hours, and without water for 12-24 hours. This makes the shearer’s job easier, and keeps the wool clean, but causes a lot of suffering. A sheep’s fleece provides protection from both cold and sun, and sheep are vulnerable to hypothermia for two to four weeks after shearing.  Sheep that are slaughtered when they no longer profit the wool industry have their flesh sold as mutton meat. 

Ewes are mated or artificially inseminated and are physiologically adapted to produce just one lamb after a five month pregnancy. However, due to selective breeding, multiple births are now common. These are more likely to be difficult, leading to many lamb deaths. Overall, about 14 per cent of lambs die between birth and weaning.

Those who survive endure painful farm procedures, such as castration in males. Lambs’ tails are routinely docked to prevent the formation of dags, and flystrike. The tail is amputated surgically, using a rubber ring, or with a hot searing iron, without pain relief. Docked lambs show nervous system changes which suggest that they experience long term post-amputation pain. Tail docking is actually not necessary – there are breeds of sheep who have naturally short tails, and in some countries lambs are never docked. 

How you can help end their suffering – 1) Stop eating lamb and mutton, and 2) Don’t wear or use wool products!

What happens to goats on farms

Image from We Animals Media

Few people realise that the dairy goat industry is a smaller version of the dairy cow industry. More than 450 million goats are killed every year, thousands of them tiny babies.  Naturally, goats can live to be 15 to 20 years old. When bred for meat, goats are slaughtered at six months to one year old.  In the dairy industry, spent mothers are slaughtered when they are no longer producing milk or babies at a rate that is profitable to farmers. Their newborn babies, if they are male, are slaughtered at less than 24 hours old.

Does are impregnated regularly so that they will continue lactating, and their male kids are killed just after birth for pet food or rendering. The majority of dairy goats are reared intensively, in large barns or sheds.  Around 20% of female kids are spared to replace their mothers, but the other 80% are killed. Adult females are sent to the slaughterhouse if their milk production declines, or if they fail to become pregnant. 

Hundreds of millions of goats are slaughtered and skinned in the leather industry every year. These skins come as a co-product of the meat and dairy industries, and their sale financially supports these industries as well as slaughter industries. 

How you can help end their suffering – 1) Stop consuming goat dairy products and meat and 2) Don’t wear leather!  

What happens to cows on farms

Image from We Animals Media

Dairy farming is responsible for the death of two million newborn calves every year in New Zealand alone.  They are carried for nine months inside their mothers, just like humans, and then once born these beautiful, innocent babies are thrown onto crowded trucks at around four days old for the exhausting, terrifying journey to their deaths.  Why?  Because they are considered a ‘waste product’.  Cows need to be pregnant, carry a calf and give birth so that humans can drink their milk.  Around twenty percent of all dairy cows are killed annually, usually because their milk production has declined, or because they failed to become pregnant. Most dairy cows are killed at eight to ten years of age, even though cows can live to the age of 25.

Farmed cows, in both the beef and dairy industry are often forcibly impregnated. and specifically. Almost all dairy cows are artificially inseminated. In order to breed calves that are of the ‘highest quality’, only specific bulls are used for breeding. The semen that is inserted into female cows is taken from bulls through means such as ‘electro-ejaculation’. This exploitative method involves forcing a probe into the rectum of a bull which stimulates him until he involuntarily ejaculates.  Female cows are then artificially inseminated. This process exploits the sexual organs of a female cow, and involves forcing a fist into the anus of a cow and inserting a rod with semen into her uterus, through her vagina. 

Male calves who are allowed to survive are routinely castrated to prevent unwanted breeding, without any pain relief.  Calves are also dehorned, using a variety of agonising and traumatic methods, again without pain relief.  Cows and steers raised for beef are slaughtered at around 18 months old.  Cattle are generally slaughtered in an abattoir with a captive-bolt pistol which shoots into their brain, stunning them. A cow must then have their throat cut open so that they bleed out, killing them. If slaughterhouse workers take too long to sever a major neck vessel, a cow can regain consciousness and bleed out while conscious.   The skins of cows and calves are an important economic part of the meat and dairy industries. The global leather goods market was valued in 2019 at $95.4 billion USD,  and when skins are not sold, the meat industry loses huge amounts of profit. While most leather is made of the skin of the same animals exploited in the meat and dairy industries, some cows are raised specifically for their skin. 

How you can help end their suffering – 1) Stop consuming dairy, beef and veal products and 2) Don’t wear leather!  

What happens to chickens on farms

Image from We Animals Media

A staggering 72 billion chickens are slaughtered for human use each year.  Millions of male baby chicks are hatched, then either suffocated or ground up alive while fully conscious, because they don’t lay eggs. Broiler chickens, raised for their meat, are bred to grow so quickly that their legs often collapse under their artificially enhanced weight, crippling them. They are killed at about 40 days old, already heavier than the average adult laying hen.  Many die of starvation and dehydration because their broken legs will not carry them to food and water. They are crammed by the tens of thousands into sheds thick with ammonia fumes.

To see inside a poultry farm, watch this video from our friends at VFC.  

Broiler chickens routinely suffer broken bones from being grabbed by their legs and violently stuffed or thrown into crates, or from being slammed into shackles upside-down at the slaughterhouse.  Laying hens are raised solely to lay eggs. They are kept either in barren wire battery cages, sheds or semi-outdoors (considered free-range).  Breeding hens are kept in crammed conditions until they are killed. The hens become red and raw from constant mating. They lay fertile eggs which hatch to become laying hens.

Laying hens now lay around 300 eggs per year, instead of the 12 or so once laid by their jungle fowl ancestors. Despite a lifespan of up to ten years, these hens are sent to slaughter at about 18 months of age, when they are no longer considered ‘profitable’.

How you can help end their suffering – Stop eating chicken and their eggs!

What happens to fish on farms

Image from We Animals Media

It is estimated that up to 167 billion farmed fish of varying species are killed per year.  Salmon are among the most farmed and are also the most valuable fish in the world, with a harvest of 2.2 million tonnes of salmon (approximately 1 billion head of fish producing USD $15.4bn annually).  Despite their commercial value, the conditions these sentient beings are kept in throughout their lives have actually been deemed ‘a life not worth living’ following a 2020 report on their welfare.  Farmed fish suffer from the negative impacts of overcrowding and poor conditions. They cannot find shelter, escape aggressive fish, or express their natural behaviors. They display obvious signs of stress, such as breathing faster, hiding and avoiding eating. They live in contaminated water, and are frequently handled, which causes stress and injury. Farmed fish experience the same suffering during slaughter as wild fish — they die of asphyxiation, gill cutting, or gutting. 

According to Professor Culum Brown, an expert in fish behaviour at Australia’s Macquarie University, “The evidence that fish experience pain is stronger than the evidence for many mammals.  “You should think about fish in the same way you think about a pig or a cow or anything else.”

How you can help end their suffering – Stop eating fish!

Turkeys, ducks, the list goes on and on.  In addition, hundreds of thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, as well as tens of millions of starlings and blackbirds are also shot, maimed, poisoned, and burned alive by farmers and government agents each year, because they are viewed as interfering with animal agricultural activities.

Vegan FTA is standing with World Day for Farmed Animals in requesting people stop contributing to and supporting these horrific industries.  

We encourage people to with vote with their dollar – and their heart – and make kinder choices.  The event website has some terrific resources, including free booklets.  There are also many ways you can participate, with activities and events being held all over the world.  You can also pledge to join others all around the world in the Fast Against Slaughter.

The animals need us.  Together, tens of thousands will rise on October 2nd to speak up for them and share the truth. 

Want to learn how to thrive on an animal-free diet?  Sign up for Challenge 22! 👉 https://bit.ly/VeganFTA22

With thanks to Animal Liberation Victoria, Viva! and The Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary for combined information and for doing such a fantastic job in raising awareness of what happens to farmed animals. 

Vegan FTA's Jackie Norman is a freelance writer of more than 20 years, specialising in food, travel, simple living and vegan/environmental issues. An ex-beef and dairy farmer prior to going vegan, Jackie puts her years of experience to good use, by speaking out globally for the animals and opening the eyes of others to the horror and reality of the dairy and beef industries.