UK Shocked to Find it Has Duplicated U.S. Factory Farms

UK factory farms

By Heather CallaghanEditor

A new report has shocked the UK who apparently did not know that they have just witnessed the reverse of a British invasion.

That is to say, they awoke to realize that US-style factory farms now dot the shires and any idyllic semblances of a family-run farm are now gone. Our unfortunate trend in factory farming and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has traveled abroad and shows no signs of stopping despite protest. There is no more Babe, no more Wilbur, just a spewing, glut of bacon.

The UK refers to our CAFOs as mega farms. They define mega farms as those housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs or 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle. In the UK, they need permits if they run an “intensive” farm which houses more than 40,000 chickens, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows.

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There are now close to 800 mega farms in the UK with every county in England hosting at least one industrial-scale livestock farm. In just six years, the UK has seen a 26% rise in intensive factory farming.

From the Guardian:

Herefordshire has more than 16 million factory-farmed animals, mainly poultry – which means the county has 88 times more factory-farmed animals than it does humans. Shropshire and Norfolk follow closely, with more than 15 million and 12 million animals respectively. Nearly every county in England and Northern Ireland has at least one mega farm, and they are also scattered across Scotland and Wales.

The march of US-style mega farms – […] has been revealed in an investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.


Poultry farms tend to be biggest, with seven out of the 10 largest housing more than 1 million birds, and the biggest two capable of holding 1.7 million and 1.4 million birds. The biggest pig farm found holds about 23,000 pigs, while the biggest cattle farm, in Lincolnshire, houses about 3,000 animals.

Emma Slawinski, director of campaigns Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), the group that created a hotspot map, said that animals are often kept in “barren, overcrowded and frequently filthy” living conditions despite adequate land availability. “North Yorkshire has the highest number of indoor-reared pigs, with over 220,000 of them confined to the inside, unable to forage and explore. This is cruel and unnecessary when we can simply bring the animals outside and rear them on the land,” she said.

Other reports have cropped up about the noxious smells and environmental concerns about farm run-off.

How can these CAFO sprawls crop up virtually unnoticed? The Guardian says that farmers expanded existing facilities and may be doing so to deliberately cloak themselves from the radar of local opposition.

They defend against protest by saying that factory farms mean closer controls meant to control (not create) disease, controls for pollution and cuts to consumer costs with a lesser “carbon footprint” to boot. Let’s just ignore that each one of those points defies the laws of logic and physics – and consider that animal welfare must suffer in those conditions, right? Not according to those somehow profiting on factory farm ventures.

In fact, Charles Godfray, director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food said it’s all in how you do it, and that animal welfare wasn’t possible to judge by the size of farms.

Richard Griffiths, CEO of the British Poultry Council, brought the animal welfare delusion to a fever pitch when he said that birds raised in CAFOs enjoyed good standards. “These are high health and welfare farms. The husbandry of the birds is the crucial element here – I think people think of hens roaming around a farm, but that image is no longer the case. That’s not how chicken is farmed any more,” he said.

Apparently, cutting the living standards of animals to increase profit and meet consumer demand magically keeps said living standards the same… And because “that’s not how a chicken is farmed any more,” the animal understands, and his biology re-materializes to meet the bottom line.


Proponents of factory farms argue that outdoor time and space for animals is impractical. They seem to be in agreement that unless there’s consumer demand, there’s no incentive to change. Now we see the true motivation…

Drone footage of intensive farms still looks mild compared to the U.S. – but unfortunately it appears they are careening in that direction rather quickly.

You’ll get there, UK, you’ll get there…

Natural Blaze / Report a typo 

 favorite-velva-smallHeather Callaghan is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and food freedom activist. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner.

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