Animals in Agriculture


Right now, millions of animals are suffering and being killed because we like the way they taste, like their skin, their fur, enjoy seeing them killed or believe that hurting and killing them will help us somehow. Millions. Right now.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 9.1 billion animals were slaughtered in the US for food in 2013 alone. This number only includes agricultural animals and omits fish, crustaceans, deer, etc.

The 2015 statistics include:

28,752,000 cows

8,822,695,000 chickens

115,425,000 hogs

2,224,000 lambs and sheep

232,398,000 turkeys

Current statistics from HSUS can be found here.

Not included in this number are the innumerable animals killed as “waste” or in the agriculture process. Piglets suffer a 4-5% mortality rate (according to the pro-animal agriculture publication, National Hog Farmer). Their deaths are often caused by the confines of commercial pig farming: cramped quarters, gestation crates, filthy pens, complications of castration (without anesthetic) or de-tusking (also without anesthetic).

The egg industry may seem innocuous, but the reality is that hens are kept in cramped quarters, often in battery cages, where they cannot even spread their wings. In these confines, they will pluck each others’ feathers out and, to prevent more serious harm, they are often de-beaked (their sensitive beaks are cut blunt, without anesthetic, often causing life-long issues with eating). Even free-range chickens are only given access to the outside — with no specifications as the length of time or size of the outdoor area — not the open green pasture the name implies. Worse yet, when fertilized eggs are needed to produce more laying hens, the newborn chicks are sorted by sex: females become new laying hens and males are killed as waste products. The typical methods of killing male chicks are by suffocating them in plastic bags or, more commonly, tossing them, alive, into a grinder, where they are churned into “by-products.”

These animals are not included in the billions listed as slaughtered, yet their lives matter, as they are sentient creatures who are aware of the pain and fear they face.

The photos on this page are courtesy of Mercy For Animals (