Animals

Treatment of animals

Cows

  • Dairy cows have been modified to produce up to 10 times more milk than they would naturally. Source
  • Male calves are of no use to the dairy industry and generally less suitable for beef production. This means that every year around 90,000 male dairy calves are shot soon after birth and discarded as a by-product. Source
  • Domesticated cows have an average lifespan of 20 years, but on dairy farms they are killed after 5-6 years on average. Source
  • 30% of UK dairy cows have mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder. Source

Chickens and other birds

  • Every year in the UK we slaughter around 950 million birds for food consumption, including chickens, ducks and turkeys. Source
  • 90% of chicken production in the UK is in intensive windowless sheds which house 20,000-50,000 chickens each. Sources: [1, p.10], [2]
  • 51% of eggs produced come from chickens in battery cages. Source
  • 40 million day-old male chicks are killed in the UK by either being gassed or being thrown into a macerator – this practice occurs in all egg farming systems, including organic. Source
  • Beak trimming is the permanent removal of part of the beak of a bird at a young age. This is standard industry practice in the UK despite being illegal in many European countries due to the pain it inflicts. Sources: [1], [2], [3, p.21]
  • Due to the incredibly fast rates of growth, farmed birds’ young bones are unable to support them, breaking under the weight and strain of their disfigured bodies – resulting in painful lameness which prevents them from eating, drinking or even standing up. Many die from dehydration or starvation because they are unable to access food and water points. Source
  • A free-range egg farmer can legally house 16,000 birds in one building, meaning that they can house 9 birds per square metre of space. This means that many free-range hens live out their entire lives in an overcrowded indoor farming unit. Source

Pigs

  • Only 3% of UK pigs spend their entire lives outdoors. Source
  • 1/3 of pigs in the UK are killed in gas chambers. Source [p.28]
  • Around half of all antibiotics sold in the UK are used on farmed animals, with 60% of these being used on pigs. Sources: [1], [2]
  • There are around 11,000 pig farms in the UK. Around 1,400 of these units house more than 1,000 pigs each, and collectively hold around 85% of the total pig population in the UK. Sources: [1], [2]
  • Most pigs are entitled to less than one square metre of space each and the majority of sows (female breeding pigs) are kept in farrowing crates. Farrowing crates were made illegal in several countries across Europe, but are still standard farming practice here in the UK. Sources: [1], [2, p.4]

Fish and other sea animals

  • We kill between 1 and 2.8 trillion fish every year. This is 143-400x the amount of the entire human population. Source
  • 308,000 cetaceans are unintentionally drowned each year after becoming entangled in fishing equipment. Source
  • Farmed salmon has 10x the amount of cancer-causing organic pollutants than wild salmon. Source
  • Sharks kill 12 people per year. People kill 11,414 sharks per hour. Sources: [1], [2]

Sheep

  • Around 1.4 million sheep and goats are killed without being stunned each year in the UK using halal practices. Many people in the UK oppose this form of slaughter, yet purchase halal meat unknowingly, since it is sold in most major outlets, including supermarkets and takeaways, without always being labelled as halal. Sources: [1], [2]
  • Every year around 4 million newborn lambs die within a few days of birth, mainly because of malnutrition, disease or exposure to cold weather. Source
  • There are several different mutilations carried out on lambs. The males are castrated using elastration, a technique that involves a thick rubber band being placed around the base of the infant’s scrotum, obstructing the blood supply and causing atrophy. This method causes severe pain to the lambs who are provided no pain relief during the process. Lambs also have their tails docked using the same method. Source [p.2]