A pig in a confined farrowing cage with her piglets

UK Animal Cruelty Hits Record Highs due to Continued Rise in Factory Farming


The Confined in Cruelty Report – The Stark Reality of UK Farming, a report released today by the charity World Animal Protection, reveals a disturbing increase in farmed animal cruelty across the UK.

With a record 139 million more animals now suffering due to a 13% rise in factory farming over the past five years, campaigners are urging the government to tighten welfare regulations and halt the approval of new factory farms.

Read the report

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Chickens crammed into a barn with very little space on a broiler farm in the UK

The UK, known for its love of animals, now trails behind several other European countries, including Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, and France in terms of farmed animal welfare.  

The findings come from the report, which sheds light on the grim conditions faced by animals in factory farms. According to the research, the number of factory farms in the UK has increased by 209 since 2017, totalling 1,821. 

Factory farms, as defined by World Animal Protection, are intensive indoor systems where large numbers of animals are raised under strict conditions to maximise production and profit. The report paints a bleak picture of life for animals on these farms, with 95% of UK chickens bred for meat and 73% of UK pigs living in the lowest legally permissible welfare conditions. Such conditions have led to high mortality rates, including over a million broiler chickens dying each week. 

Contrary to the idyllic image of farmyards with green fields and fresh air, animals in factory farms are kept in horrific conditions, crammed into spaces so small they can hardly move. Chickens, for example, are confined to spaces smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and will never experience grass under their feet. Procedures like tail docking in piglets are carried out without pain relief, adding to the animals' suffering. 

The report also criticises the UK's delay in adopting animal welfare practices that have been implemented in other countries. For instance, the preventative use of antibiotics, crucial for mitigating health issues resulting from poor living conditions, is banned in the EU but not in the UK. Similarly, while some countries have either banned or are planning to ban the use of farrowing crates for pigs and enriched cages for hens, the UK still allows them. 

Over two-thirds of people in the UK find practices like confining mother pigs in farrowing crates and tail docking in piglets without pain relief to be cruel, highlighting a significant public concern over animal welfare in farming. 

Lindsay Duncan, World Animal Protection Farming campaigns manager said: 

“We claim to love animals in the UK, but the reality is, 139 million more animals are suffering on UK factory farms. Farmed animal cruelty has rapidly increased with factory farm capacity up by 13% in just 5 yearsThe UK has fallen behind multiple countries with our farmed animal welfare. We are urging people to sign our petition to stop new factory farms being built and preventing the expansion of these hellish places. The government must stop greenlighting new factory farms.” 

Dr Alex Bartlett, veterinary surgeon said: 

“As a vet, I have seen animals feel and experience pain, sadness, excitement, and love. To think that 139 million more animals are now confined in factory farms in the lowest of welfare conditions, is absolutely heart-breaking. These animals deserve to be loved, cared for, and to be able to enjoy the outside world. As a nation of animal lovers, factory farms should have no place in the UK. I fully support World Animal Protection’s appeal to urge the government to put an end to factory farming.” 

Chickens crammed into a barn with very little space on a broiler farm in the UK

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