Animal Agriculture Overview
This page provides links to articles, papers and other items relating to the use of animals in agriculture.
Humans began enslaving animals, primarily for use in agriculture, around 30 thousand years ago.
Animals have been are bred and raised to provide humans with: meat, dairy products, eggs, bone and horn, skins, wool, fur and feathers, and also for their muscle power pulling ploughs and providing transportation.
Even though all of these products and uses either have been or can be replaced by superior non-animal products, 150 billion animals worldwide are still killed every year in animal agriculture.
Not only are animal products no longer necessary, but animal agriculture has contributed more to the environmental holocaust currently facing life on Earth than any other single factor (for more information see Animals and the Environment). The need to put an end to animal agriculture is now a matter of urgency.
Although extensive animal agriculture is, in most cases, less cruel than intensive animal agriculture, all forms of animal agriculture involve many inherent cruelties.
In both intensive and extensive commercial systems, excess young of all species of farm animal are separated from their mothers and sent away for slaughter. This separation causes extreme distress to both mother and baby.
Slaughter of young, soon after hatching, has always been the fate of most male poultry birds because males do not lay eggs, and only a few are needed to maintain the supply of egg-laying females.
Similarly, dairy farmers have no reason to keep most of their male calves alive because they will not grow up to produce milk. They suffer the same fate as male baby birds, stolen from their mothers and slaughtered.
Transportation to slaughter is also inherently inhumane, in both extensive and intensive agricultural systems.
‘Spent’’ poultry birds (usually still very young adults) are crammed into crates so tightly they cannot move. Many suffer broken limbs due to the rough handling as they are loaded.
They are then transported by truck for many hours without food or water. Many die on the journey, of suffocation, of dehydration, of heat exhaustion, and of injuries sustained during loading.
The standards for transportation of sheep and cattle are marginally better than for poultry, in terms of breaks for watering. However, the exhaustion and terror of standing, crowded in a moving vehicle for many hours often results in illness and injury.
For animals that, at the end of their long, harrowing road journey, are then transported by ship to other countries, the nightmare of transportation may continue for weeks or even months.
Slaughter methods, even in Australian abattoirs, have been shown to be far from humane, with animals bellowing in terror and distress as they exposed to the sounds of panic and the smell of the blood of other animals.
There is much evidence that, even in Australian abattoirs, sheep and cattle are subjected to brutal treatment by desensitised abattoir workers. There is also documented evidence that baby roosters are poured alive into grinders.
For animals exported to countries which have lower (or no) standards of animal welfare than even Australia’s minimal standards, the cruelty, exposed by Animal Australia operatives, to which these animals are subjected on arrival, beggars description.
Even on the rare occasions where agricultural animals are not subjected to any of the above routine cruelties, most are killed when they are little more than young adults because no-one wants to eat tough old animals that have died of old age.
APA rejects the assumption that humans have a right to torture and kill animals, especially given that we have no further need of these products and uses.
We urge producers, vendors and consumers to transition to entirely plant-based products, and to vote for governments willing to develop policies that assist in this transition.
While animal agriculture continues, we urge voters to demand legislation that adequately protects the well-being of agricultural animals in every aspect of their lives and deaths.