Overcrowding, mutilation, massive doses of antibiotics, and short lives transformed into cheap steaks. Factory farms, for breeding and fattening pigs, cows, hens, chickens, turkeys and rabbits, are run on the principle of maximising profit and minimising costs. Those managing them claim that they ensure the animals protection, food and treatment from disease. Yes, but at what cost? The practice of “industrial” animal farming is widespread in all developed countries and is subject to rigid regulations (which are not always respected) and also to frequent condemnation.
Criticisms include the huge doses of antibiotics used, the enormous environmental impact linked to the disposal of slurry and waste, the vast quantities of water and huge tracts of land dedicated to the monoculture of cereals and soya to provide animal feed (to the extent that many refer to this aspect as an “ecological time bomb”).
But the greatest criticism is reserved for the overcrowding that transforms farms into cruel batteries in which the animals cannot even move: one hangar can house up to 30 thousand chickens, while it sometimes occurs that pigs live alongside their own dead offspring, squashed by the weight of their mothers. Such situations create stress and aggressive behaviour directed towards themselves and others: it is for this reason that egg-laying hens often have parts of their tails and beaks sheared off.
The images in this photo report were taken secretly in Italy inside a series of intensive farms in the region of Emilia Romagna, in the cities of Parma, Modena, Bologna, Cesena and Ravenna. Emilia Romagna is recognised as a cradle of excellence in Italian food production (products such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Felino Salami and mortadella from Bologna), but it is also one of the areas in Europe with the highest concentrations of intensive farming facilities.