When does farming cross the line to factory?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by kesoaps, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Everyone has their own opinion as to what size farm is considered small. I don't think of 100 sheep as small, as I've got less than a dozen. But compared to 500 sheep, I guess it's small. Locally, we used to have several small family dairies. My grandfather milked fewer than 50 cows. Now those small farms are nearly non-existent. Instead we've got very few cows out on pasture, but hundreds that are standing in manure on concrete trying to swish flies with no tails.


    Where do you think the line is crossed from small family farm to agri-business or factory farming?
     
  2. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

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    I think there is a difference between a large farm and a factory farm.

    A factory farm considers its animals to be little more than raw materials. That is why in a factory farm setting a chicken is given so little room; the chickens are just raw materials stacked in a warehouse. Of course these "raw materials" just happen to be living things. :rolleyes: Most of the workers in these animal factories are just that, factory workers, not farmers. If these large animal factories were forced to pay their workers overtime and a wage comparable to other factory work the price of chicken and pork would skyrocket, and the actual small farmer who rasises chickens or pigs could make a living doing so. (this of course does not go into the other negatives of factory farming, such as the pollution run-off, which would be cured by having the small farmer producing our meat and eggs, not factories.) For more really good info on the factory farm vs small farm, read just about anything by Gene Logsdon.

    Of course this is just a redefining of your question, not an answer.

    Personally, I think the line is crossed from farming into factory work whenever the animals are warehoused, along with all the nasty stuff that comes with it. As for the line between small and large? I'm not sure it is that easy to define. Here in Texas it used to be that a ranch that only grazed two or three sections of land (each a square mile) was considered a small, greasy sack outfit.
    Today it probably comes down to managment... who is running the show?

    But that is just my opinion
     

  3. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To me, its not a matter of size, its a matter of how they are handled and fed. They should be raised *somewhat* naturally. Such as some pasture, plenty of room, etc. If you have 1000 cattle and have the room to allow them to pasture and such.....I don't consider that factory farming.
     
  4. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My personal opinion? When the farmer and his immediate family aren't doing the majority of the work. And some of those farms can be quite big, but if it's still in the family, and family members are doing th hard, dirty work, then I can't call it factory farming.

    Around here, I'd say it's when someone in "management" signs up for the course from Cooperative Extension entitled "Spanish for Milkers" it has become factory farming. Notice I'm from Northern NYS . . .
     
  5. afrikaner

    afrikaner Well-Known Member

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    The line is crossed when animals can't walk around and graze. We had about 1000 head of cattle back in the day and produced quite a good bit of meat and milk, but animals were allowed to procreate as they saw fit (unless we were having a meagre year, then we "helped" them), they had free range over their camps. We rotated the camps every week. Took some time, but the animals were always healthy.
     
  6. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    when the animal is subjected to conditions that cause abnormal behavior, stress, or harm, directly caused by an effort to maximize profits from raising those animals, then you have moved into a factory farm.

    you can have 5 sheep and 2 cow, and operate a factory farm. if they are confined and subjected to conditions outlined above.

    veal is a factory farmed meat. "good" veal can only come from a factory farm. The "perfect' meat of a veal calf is soft and anemic, directly caused by an iron poor and liquid diet.

    a normal farm under normal condition would not subject a calf to the conditions that make modern veal; the poor unatural diet, the tight crate to restrict muscle use, and the dark lights.

    a "normal" veal calf is left to nurse, is left to run in the sunshine and to eat what it pleases as it grows. if it is slaughtered while still nursing, thats fine.... but you wont get factory farmed meat quality, or rather the kind of veal the public has come acustomed to getting in the store... people do not know what real veal looks and tastes like no more than they know what brown eggs are.

    you can have 12 pigs and be a factory farmer. i used to work for a guy who borded horses near a small pig farm. the man had about 25 pigs, all in one concrete pen, indoors, from the time the piggys were bought as tiny pigs, till the day they were hearded out of the shed to the slaughter house, never having nearly enouh room to lie down on a dry spot let alone walk around.
    he was a factory farmer.
    these pigs would get loose every now and then and would die from a heart attack we assumed, becuase they would run like they were insane till they dropped dead. I used to joke they were agoraphobic but I think I was actually right....

    if it takes too much money for you to keep an animal clean and give it a reasonable area to act like an animal, to root, or scratch or graze... at least part of the day in the sun, and with acess to dry areas to lie down.... if it costs too much to do that, you are too poor to be a farmer, or you want to much profit from the venture.
     
  7. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

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    Regardless of ownership, I consider a factory farm to be one where profit is more important than the welfare of the animals. If a farmer has so many head of cattle that he can only spend a few seconds a day working with each one and only to get what he needs (i.e. milk) then he is operating a factory farm.
     
  8. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Now this could also apply to someone running a business. For example a dairy. I may only get on average 2 minutes a day with each doe as they go through the barn, but I spend the rest of my day doing work to feed, house, care for those same does properly. I don't see how, if those does are healthy, happy and well-contented, that its a factory farm? :shrug:
     
  9. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Personally I view it as more an issue of density and practices rather than size strictly speaking.


    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  10. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Yup, when you have to build lagoons because you can't do anything with the crap... you may be a factory farm.

    Serious question, but I will do it on another thread...
     
  11. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hey, that sounds like a cool invention. Most lights throw light, and in the absence of a light, there is darkness.

    Can you explain the dark lights (I assume they throw darkness?) in more detail?



    ;)

    --->Paul
     
  12. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    "... people do not know what real veal looks and tastes like no more than they know what brown eggs are."

    At least in Connecticut, about 1/2 the eggs at the supermarket are brown. Guess some places are all white?
     
  13. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

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    You missed my first point. Profit is more important that the welfare of the animals. Obviously in the case you present above the welfare of the animals does matter and the animals are well cared for.
     
  14. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ah, ok now I understand. Yes, to me the factory farm would start when the animals stop becoming important and the only thing thats important is the product.
     
  15. bargarguy

    bargarguy Well-Known Member

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    Well said Mike
     
  16. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

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    Actually, judging by the crappy chicken that is sold in stores, I think the product is not very important either, more like profit.
     
  17. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

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    A lot depends if you are down wind from a farm....
    Michigan has seen several huge dairy operations that seem to fit the "factory farm" idea. They purchase all their feed and pay local land owners for the "priviledge" of spreading (pumping) their manure onto neighboring land. They don't even raise their own heifers. They sell all new calves and buy soon to calve heifers. In California, there are big dairy operations that are just long slabs of concrete with a metal roof for shade. Trucks of feed are brought in daily as needed. These operations just milk cows. There is no circle of feeding the soil and growing crops, raising replacements. Same goes for these egg producing operations. I heard of one that was to have 5,000,000 chickens on 5 acres, receive semi loads of locally grown corn and soybeans. They were drying the manure for local sale, but had a couple lagoons, too. No one mentioned that with a normal .025% daily mortality, they'd be composting (?) over 500,000 chickens each year!
    There are pork operations in the south that house 30,000 sows under each roof. With a gestation of 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, each sow can produce nearly 30 piglets annually. That's close to a million pigs from each building.
    While it runs contrary to our feelings about family farms and Homesteading, these huge operations are generally producing safer food than the guy with his back yard flock.
     
  18. Ole Man Legrand

    Ole Man Legrand Well-Known Member

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    Regardless of the size of the operation if you are making a living, to me , you are farming.