Small vs. large farms: Are animals treated differently?

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Many people have opinions, even concerns, about today's agriculture, especially when it comes to the well-being of animals. The Center for Food Integrity asked three experts to analyze the statement, “The well-being of farm animals on larger operations is disregarded in the pursuit of higher profits." In addition the three experts were asked to write a white paper that considers all angles and determine, based on research and their expertise, how much truth there is to the statement.

View the individual responses from Dr. Patricia Hester, Dr. Ed Pajor and Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane, by clicking here

Here is a summary of the expert responses:  

The question is often asked by critics of modern animal agriculture but the size of the farm is not a reliable indicator of animal welfare. Research shows good animal husbandry has more to do with the people providing the care.

Small and large farms present different challenges, but both require skilled and conscientious management to promote good animal care. While there are fewer animals on a small operation, time spent caring for the animals must be juggled with various tasks. On larger operations, employees are often trained in specialized skills and a larger staff might allow for more personalized animal care.

The reason farms have gotten larger has more to do with maintaining income levels than increasing profits. One study provides this example: In the 1970s an operation producing 2,000 pigs a year would generate a profit of $42,000. In the 1990s the profit from such a farm would have been about $8,000. Taking inflation into account, the size of the farm would have to be roughly ten times larger in the 1990s to result in a similar income.

Individual responses can be read here.

Source: The Center for Food Integrity

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