about the animals

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Factory Farming in Canada

Our sentimental image of pigs, chickens, and cows being raised on an idyllic family farm is seriously outdated. Over 95% of the 650 million animals raised and slaughtered for food in Canada today are mass-produced on factory farms. Here they live their short lives indoors in intensive confinement systems, deprived of everything that is natural to them including sunlight, family, and even the ability to turn around. The horrific conditions that exist on Canada’s modern farms include animals being crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other cruel confinement systems. These animals suffer staggering neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, and drug regimens that cause chronic pain and debilitating. During transport, many animals are beaten or shocked, and thousands die from overcrowding and extreme temperatures. Their tortured lives end in terror with violent and gruesome deaths in slaughterhouses across the country.


Over 600 million chickens live and die in nightmarish conditions to supply Canadians with their meat and eggs. Thousands of broiler chickens at a time are crowded into dark and dirty warehouses where they have their beak tips amputated without anaesthetic, suffer ammonia burns and respiratory diseases from the vast amounts of urine and feces in the environment, are genetically bred to grow so large their skeletons become crippled under their own weight, and suffocate from intense overcrowding. In the factory farming environment, sick chickens are often totally neglected and left to be trampled to death or die of dehydration.

Battery cages at an egg laying facility in Guelph, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Humane Society.

Egg-laying chickens are arguably the most abused animals in the world. They are packed four to six hens at a time into wire battery cages that have a floor the size of a folded newspaper. They spend their lives never being able to spread their wings and barely able to move, standing on sloping wire floors and suffering feather loss and skin damage due to constant rubbing against the cage and cage-mates. Up to 20% of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress and disease. Male chicks have no value to the egg industry, so every year in Canada, tens of millions of chicks are ground up alive or tossed into bags to suffocate within hours of having hatched.

A dumpster of discarded male chicks at an egg laying facility. Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.

The natural life span of a chicken is 15-20 years, but in factory farm production, egg-laying hens are killed at just 1½ years of age and broiler chickens at 42 days of age or less.

A casualty of careless unloading at a Vancouver slaughterhouse.


Most of Canada’s 14 million beef and dairy cows are treated as no more then mechanized parts of a food assembly line. Cows raised to become beef live their short lives on barren, manure-filled feedlots containing up to 40,000 cows. They endure branding, castration, and dehorning without anaesthetic. The feedlots air is so saturated with ammonia, methane, and other noxious chemicals from the build-up of feces that many of these cows suffer from chronic respiratory problems. To keep them alive in these unhealthy conditions and to make them grow faster, the cows are pumped full of drugs. Despite this, every year there are thousands of crippled or sick “downed” cattle that, unable to stand, are dragged with ropes and chains in order to deliver them to the slaughterhouse.

A downed cow being dragged to slaughter. Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Dairy cows are subjected to terrible abuse in the Canadian agribusiness system. They are often chained in stalls for their entire lives where they are fed and milked by machines and where even lying down can be problematic. The dairy cow is forced into a brutal repeated cycle of pregnancy and having her newborns taken away as young as a few hours old so the milk can be used for human consumption. This premature separation causes terrible stress and anxiety for both mother and calf: both will often cry for days or even weeks after being torn apart. Dairy cows are genetically bred to produce 10 times the amount of milk they would naturally produce, commonly resulting in painful mastitis (a bacterial infection of the udder) and lameness. Though cows can live up to 25 years, most dairy cows are only able to endure the hardships of producing such unnaturally high volumes of milk for around 3 years. At that point, she is referred to as a “cull cow” and slaughtered for hamburger meat.

A cull dairy cow with untreated mastitis, just bought at a Winnipeg livestock auction by a slaughterhouse in Ontario.

Veal is a nasty by-product of the dairy industry as dairy cows are forced to continually birth calves to produce milk for human consumption and the male calves are of no use to dairy farmers. Many calves of dairy cows are killed soon after birth or are severely confined in tiny stalls or hutches – alone and barely able to move – before becoming veal at 1-3 months of age.

A veal calf that will be in confinement for its entire short life.

Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary


In Canada each year, almost 30 million pigs endure a life of misery before heading to the dinner plate. Most pigs spend their too-short lives under the constant stress of living in cramped dark warehouses and never experiencing fresh air or the sun on their backs… until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter. Piglets have their tails cut off, teeth clipped, ears notched, and are castrated all without any anaesthetic.

Dead piglets left on the floor at a Canadian hog farm. Photo courtesy of the VHS

Mother pigs (sows) spend their lives kept constantly pregnant and confined in 2-foot wide, metal gestation crates so small that for most of their lives they are barely able to move or even lie down comfortably. In this one tiny barren space, the naturally fastidious pig must eat, sleep, urinate and defecate, with her waste falling through slatted concrete floors into a pool of raw sewage underneath her. Sows in these stalls experience crippling leg disorders and suffer greatly from their life-long deprived environment.

Animals are transported for 36 hours without food or water on route to slaughter.

Overview, Chickens and Turkeys, EGGS, Pigs, Dairy, Beef, Fish, Vegetarianism Saves Lives, Free Range, Faq