A Better Farm Experience

Most farm animals live a dejected life with the inevitable fate of being sent to the slaughter house to become food and protein for humans. Some of the conditions these animals live in are brutal, such as small enclosures or overpopulated farms. However, improving living conditions, health and happiness of farms animals has become increasingly important to animal-rights activists as well as everyday consumers. With more attention being brought to the caring of farm animals, farmers must change their ways to avoid losing profits. Government regulations have already been set in place to ensure more humane practices. For example, a California law enacted in 2015 requires that “all chickens, veal crates, and sow gestation crates give animals enough space to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs.” Farmers would have to spend more money to improve the welfare of their animals, however, the effects of changing their ways could have more benefits than once believed.

Some experts believe that improving the lives of farm animals could be an important step toward feeding and protecting the planet. Around 65 billion cows, pigs, and chickens are slaughtered each year to be used as food for humans. This demand for meat is estimated to jump 70 percent by 2050 according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The amount of farm animals that are slaughtered each year already puts a considerable environmental strain on the planet; if this number continues to increase it could become unsustainable. Stress and disease slow the growth of animals, so, simply giving them the chance to live happy and healthy lives could cause them to put on more weight with the same amount of feed. According to Daniel Berckmans, a bioscience engineer at the University of Lueven in Belgium, livestock producers could take a big step toward meeting global demand by avoiding the act of cramming extensive amounts of animals into already crowded facilities and instead, simply treating their animals better.

So how can this be done? Advances in technology could help farmers improve their farms and the lives of the animals it contains. Berckmans and his colleagues have been working on precision livestock farming systems that ‘monitor large numbers of farm animals and provide real-time warnings about infections, injuries, and other breakdowns, giving the farmers a chance to act quickly to prevent a crisis.’ To save farmers time and money, camera systems can be used to track the movement of thousands of chickens in a single barn. Berckmans is also working on utilizing wearable stress montiors, typically used by athletes, to be used for cows. These monitors will help make the system of farming more efficient because farmers will be able to tell when a cow is in distress. Many other techniques have been thought up by different scientists and researchers that are worth giving a try to help not only the farm animals, but the state of the environment as well.

A cow on Billings Farm in Vermont, a farm that prides themselves in the care of their animals.

As more interest in the welfare of farm animals and the issues they face increases, now is the perfect time to make the necessary changes. No farmer, or any business owner for that matter, wants their customers to think that the way they run their facility is against their values. Yes, the cost will be higher, but if we as consumers make it a point that we want better lives for these animals then farms will have no choice but to change their ways to avoid the breakdown of their company. Humans have certain duties to animals and it is time welfare is improved to a level they deserve.

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