Factory Farm Disease - Antibiotics
Factory farm conditions result in severe physiological as well as behavioral afflictions in animals. Anemia, influenza, intestinal diseases,
mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, pneumonia, and scours are only the beginning of a long list of ailments plaguing animals in factory farms.
By ignoring such basic needs such as exercise, fresh air, wholesome food, and proper veterinary care, factory farms are a breeding ground for
stress and infectious diseases.
Factory farms attempt to counter the effects of intensive confinement by administering continuous doses of antibiotics and other drugs to the
animals. This "cost effective" practice has a significant negative impact on both human and non human animals.
The deprivation to which animals are subjected on factory farms has provoked concern among knowledgeable veterinarians and animal
protection activists for years.
Today, criticism of factory farm practices is widespread among human health care professionals as well.
Medical doctors now warn that the tragedy of factory farming reaches well beyond the farm animals themselves.
Squandering a Medical Miracle
More than half of all antiobiotics manufactured in the United States are poured directly into animal feeds. Among the most commonly used antibiotics
are penicillin and tetracycline. The squandering of these important drugs on factory
farms is wreaking havoc for physicians in the treatment
of human illness.
Widespread overuse of antibiotics is resulting in the evolution of new strains of virulent bacteria whose resistance to antibiotics poses a great
threat to human health. Doctors are now reporting that, due to their uncontrolled use on factory farms, these formerly life-saving drugs are often
rendered useless in combating human disease.
The routine use of antibiotics and other chemicals in animal feed is a dangerously irresponsible
attempt to counter the harsh, disease-ridden conditions to which animals are subjected in factory farms.
Factory farm equipment and drug companies tell us that farmers need intensive animal confinement facilities in order to make a large profit.
In reality, it is the equipment companies and giant pharmaceutical corporations such as Lilly, Upjohn, American Cyanamid, and Pfizer
that profit most from factory farming. Family farms are being
squeezed out of business by their inability to raise the capital to compete with huge factory farms. Traditional farming is labor intensive, but
factory farming is capital intensive. Farmers who do manage to raise the money for confinement systems quickly discover that the small savings in
labor costs are not enough to cover the increasingly expensive facilities, energy, caging, and drug costs.
The Stress Connection
Agribusiness companies tell us that animals in factory farms are "as well cared for as their own pet dog or cat." Nothing could be further from
the truth. The life of an animal in a factory farm is characterized by acute deprivation, stress, and disease.
Hundreds of millions of animals are forced to live in cages or crates just barely larger than their own bodies. While one species may be caged
alone without any social contact, another species may be crowded so tightly together that they fall prey to stress-induced cannibalism.
Cannibalism is particularly prevalent in the cramped confinement of hogs and laying hens. Unable to groom, stretch their legs, or even turn around,
the victims of factory farms exist in a relentless state of distress. "When animals are intensively confined and under stress, as they are on
factory farms, their autoimmune systems are affected and they are prone to infectious diseases," reports veterinarian Dr. Bruce Feldmann.
"When animals are treated with care, there is no need for continuous low-level antibiotic feed additives. It is as simple as that."
The public relations firms retained by agribusiness companies will publicly deny the existence of farm animal stress. Ironically, these PR
campaigns are paid for out of the millions of dollars made selling drugs to treat stress and stress-induced diseases on factory farms. If a private
citizen confined a dog or cat in a manner common in factory farms, he/she could be charged with cruelty to animals. There is an area, however,
that federal laws protecting animals do not touch. The powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical lobbies have seen to it that farm animals are
explicitly excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act. There are virtually no Federal laws which protect farm animals from even the most harsh
and brutal treatment as long as it takes place in the name of production and profit. It is left entirely to the preference of the individual
company how many egg-laying hens are stuffed into each little wire cage, or whether an artificially inseminated sow must spend her entire pregnancy
chained to the floor of a cement-bottomed cage.