U.S. factory farms are getting even bigger, concentrating more animals into fewer production operations in a system that can be harmful to animals, the environment and human health, a new study says.
The report issued on Tuesday by Food & Water Watch -- an analysis of Department of Agriculture data for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations -- found the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms rose by 5 million, or more than 20 percent, between 2002 and 2007.The report found the average size of factory farms increased by 9 percent in five years, cramming more animals into each operation.
The report looked only at very large farming operations -- for example hog farms that had 1,000 or more animals, and poultry farms that handled 500,000 chickens a year or more.
According to the report, the number of cows on factory dairy farms nearly doubled from 2.5 million in 1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. Beef cattle on industrial feedlots rose 17 percent from 2002 to 2007, adding about 1,100 beef cattle to feedlots every day for five years.