Factory farming (sometimes also known as intensive animal production or industrial dairy farming) is defined as rearing farm animals in an unnatural manner in order to maximize profit. In this method, it does not matter what methods and conditions these animals are kept under, as long as the profit is high. There are many reasons that the quality of meat produced from factory farms is substandard, and a large number of consumers have turned against them. These practices include excessive feedlots, forced breeding, over-packing, antibiotics and hormones. The products of factory farming not only suffer from poor quality meat, but they also create significant health problems for the animals.
Factory farms are usually situated in rural areas, making them inhospitable to wildlife. They are surrounded by concrete walls and barbed wire, making it very difficult for wildlife to move into and out of the pens. The animals are usually raised in cramped spaces with no room to roam. Although it is more expensive to raise livestock in this way, the benefits, such as high volume and consistent meat production, make it worthwhile.
In order to increase the number of animals being reared in factory farming operations, genetic engineering is introduced into the semen of the cows. This process causes the cow's reproductive cycle to alter itself in order to result in more births. Because these cows are used over again, there is virtually no reduction in the number of offspring, so there is no loss of quality. This method does not have the short term or long term consequences that conventional breeding might have, which makes it preferable for those interested in long-term use of their animals. It is also much more convenient than purchasing eggs, which has to be processed after a certain number of weeks to ensure its nutritional value is maintained.
In addition to the above mentioned benefits, raising animals in factory farming conditions allows farmers to save large amounts of money on food. Since the animals spend most of their time confined to small cages, feeding them regular commercial feed results in large quantities of unwanted waste, which is then deposited into land fills. The cost of feeding these cattle also increases because they require antibiotics to keep them healthy. However, in contrast to conventional farming, where antibiotics are used to prevent illness and disease, factory farming relies on chemical methods of pest control, which results in less use of antibiotics. The cost of these chemicals can eventually be absorbed by the farmer, resulting in further savings.
Cattle from factory farming are subjected to much more extensive and unnatural living conditions than their free-range cousins. Unlike the majority of organic farms, animals in factory farming are often kept in small cages and are fed whatever is available at the time. This causes them to lose weight quickly and leaves them susceptible to disease; all of which translate into lower levels of quality meat.
Many observers believe that the practices detailed above are causing far more damage to the environment than benefits. Because of this, the debate surrounding factory farming has steadily grown. While some argue that it is important for animals to receive all the nutrients necessary for healthy lives, others are starting to view factory farming as a necessary evil of modern society. This viewpoint has been strengthened by the widespread public's increasing awareness of the ethical issues surrounding the practice of raising animals for food, as well as the benefits offered by raising animals without the use of traditional farming methods around the world.