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September 26, 2020 - Vox

USA: Why North Carolina has giant lagoons of pig poop

USA: Why North Carolina has giant lagoons of pig poop
Pigs on CAFO intensive factory farm© Photabulous!

Some 80 million pigs live on farms in the United States at any given time in 2020. The total number slaughtered in a year is even higher, as pigs are typically killed at 6 to 8 months of age. In 2019, nearly 130 million pigs were slaughtered.

To slaughter that many pigs in a year, we need a highly industrialized system. And indeed, that’s the food system we’ve created: 98.3 percent of those pigs live on CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations. When you hear the phrase “factory farming” and imagine large industrial operations where a whole lot of animals are killed and processed, CAFOs are what you’re thinking of.

Large CAFOs as a model have major, negative ramifications for the welfare of animals that these facilities house. They rely on intensive confinement practices like, for instance, gestation crating, which involves confining mother pigs to fenced-in areas barely larger than their bodies, where they also lack the room to turn around. Ian Duncan, an eminent scholar of animal welfare at the University of Guelph, has described it as “one of the cruelest forms of confinement devised by humankind.”

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