Common Cruelty to Livestock
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Common Cruelty to Livestock

What are the top 10 things that are cruel to farm animals? Learn more about cruelty to livestock in the food industry? What is a factory farm? How are eggs produced? Where does veal come from? Are animals hurt on farms? Learn more about what goes on to put dinner on your plate and what foods to avoid if you do not want to contribute to animal suffering.

There are many things done to animals that are often considered cruel. Since there are so many issues of cruelty to animals I will write 3 articles, one on cruelty to wild animals, one on cruelty to livestock, and one on cruelty to pets. This article is in regards to cruelty to livestock and farm animals. Please add your comments to share any other areas of cruelty to farm animals that concern you.


Every year roughly 140 billion animals are killed to become food for humans. Many of these animals are killed relatively young, before first birthday. In the UK alone over 900 million poultry (birds) are slaughtered yearly for human consumption. There are no humane slaughter laws in some countries, of which the USA is one, for poultry, rabbits, and fish. Even if they are killed humanely, killing in itself is cruel.


Mulesing is the act of slicing off the rump of a weaned sheep while it is fully awake and without any painkillers. This is done mostly in Australia to prevent fly strike, but less cruel methods, such as crutching, also reduce fly strike, and are not painful to the sheep, nor leave its bloody rump exposed to heal on its own.

Feeding Dead Animals to Herbivores

A herbivores is basically an animal that is a natural vegetarian. In the past feeding dead sheep to cattle result in Mad Cow Disease, but animals are still being fed to other animals even now. Mostly fish, and ground up day old male chicks, are rendered down into supplements that can be fed to cattle, or other farm animals, as meat and bone meal.

Battery Hens

Battery hens are kept sometimes 3 to a cage, the entire floor space of the cage might be equal to the size of an opened magazine. They have nothing to do except peck each other, but to reduce the risk of injury they have their beaks cut at age day one. Roosters are discarded (often ground up) at age day one as they are not needed to produce eggs. The hens are sometimes forced into an early, fast, moult so they lay again, they are often slaughtered following this second lay.

Factory Farms

Some cattle are kept in feed lots standing in their own filth with nothing to do other than eat, pigs do not have it much better, with many pigs being confined to small indoor pets, with nothing do do except eat. It is worth noting that pigs are said to be as intelligent as dogs; having the same level of thought and understanding as a three year old child.

Foie Gras

Ducks and geese are tortured to make Foie Gras, a food considered to be a delicacy. They are kept virtually immobile in tiny cages and have a tube stuck down their throat up to three times a day so they can be forced fed way more grain than they would ever eat, causing them to develop “fatty liver” disease. The feeding tubes often damage their throat and cause pain.

Dairy and Veal

Many people assume the dairy industry is cruelty free, but in order to get milk, the calf is usually taken from its mother and kept in a tiny pen, its movement is limited and it is often slaughtered young to be used as veal. Dairy calves are also slaughtered for rennet, a product from their stomachs that is used to make some types of cheese.


When livestock animals are transported to slaughter they are often crowded into transport trucks, they do not have water, and if they fall they are subject to being stepped on by other animals. It is not uncommon for livestock to arrive at a slaughter yard with injuries as the result of transportation.

Karakul Lambs

Although they are used for the fur industry, Karakul sheep are still considered livestock which is why they are listed here. Pregnant Karakul ewes are sometimes kicked a few days before they are set to deliver their lambs. The lambs are slaughtered and skinned. Older ewes are often slaughtered a few days prior to giving birth, again so their fetal lambs can be harvested. The pelts are sold usually as broadtail or Astrakhan fur.


Livestock animals (horses, cattle, sheep, goats) are used in the rodeo. The intention may not be to hurt the animals, but it does occur, particular in calf roping events.

Author's Note: This is not an attack on the food industry, or people who want to eat meat. This article is simply pointing out some of the unnecessary cruelties that occur in the livestock industry, with suggestions that consumers who are concerned buy their meat from organic producers and local farms. 

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Comments (9)

Very informative and thought provoking article.

It's so sad that most of the fast food in my country offers buttered chicken. I am just unaware of how poultry owners respond to the increasing demand in the market. It's so sad to hear from your statement Maam Brenda, "Many of these animals are killed relatively young, before first birthday." I'ts so sad...=(

Another great article. This series has been quite a comprehensive look at the way that humans interact with the other species on the planet. Except that you didn't mention mosquitoes - can we still swat mosquitoes?

Only if you swat them humanely! I personally let them land on me if I am indoors and then walk to the door to let them outside, I do not get reactions from their bites, and I have loads of bats and barn swallows waiting to eat them - swatting would be such a waste!

Interesting and informative. I learned a lot from your expertise. Thanks Brenda

I could only read about half of this article. It's well written but just can't read these horrible things that humans do. I had no idea people cut off the rump of a lamb while it is alive. Just awful! Well done on this article Brenda.

Brenda, this is just plain cruelty and there is no justification for such inhumane treatment of animals, so sad. Voted, this must have been a difficult article to write.

Very cruel treatments. Horrible, Brenda.

Very important issue for consumers to know about livestock.