Factory farming. Is it morally acceptable or not?


My understanding is that animals don’t have rights, and God gave man dominion over animals to use for our benefit. But on the other hand, I don’t believe we should be cruel to animals, not because of who they are, but because of who we are (in this particular case, we are to be stewards of the Earth, and animal cruelty doesn’t seem to fit that description too well in my mind). Yet animal cruelty doesn’t seem to be an intended end of factory farming, only an unfortunate, unintended side-effect. I’m at a bit of a crossroads when pondering the question of whether factory farming is okay or not.

NOTE: This question focuses primarily on the treatment of animals in industrial farm settings. Whether or not the whole profit thing is greedy or not, or some other non-animal-related topic, is another topic.

I know there will probably be differing opinions, but I don’t know if this is a sensitive topic or not. For the love of sanity, KEEP THIS CIVIL!

Thank you.


Not ideal in any way, shape, or form, but I think it’s nessecary…


In my opinion, factory farming is shortsighted and immoral due to the health problems created. The possibility of water contamination and diseases spreading from animals to humans is increased exponentially.

Also, few people mention the abuse of antibiotics that these facilities require.


I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on this. Comparing to the way they treat these animals in the factories to how St. Francis of Assisi did, I would say it is not right. Each person is morally obligated to respect the natural environment as well as his own being as precious gifts from God; we are to be stewards of the earth. We should not make animals suffer needlessly out of ease or even greed.

There is a better route to take. That is being good farmers, letting the animals have some land to roam on. No one wants to be cooped up 24/7. Feeding them a decent diet within the bounds of what a person can reasonably afford. Healthiest and cheapest for a cow is fresh grass they roam on, with some excess food for when they’re a little hungrier. Chickens will eat literally anything. Corn, peas, bugs. All good. Organic is always better.

Honestly I think more people should take up small scale farming. That way we won’t have to rely so much on the big box stores to feed us anymore. Most of their food suppliers have horrendous standards.


Just look at all the food recalls!


It wouldn’t be or less dependent on them if people would cut back a bit on meat consumption. I believe the wide availability of meat is a modern thing. It used to be more of a luxury.

I know some people have to eat certain meats because they discovered a vegetarian diet despite having plant sources of iron made them a bit iron deficient.


It goes further than that. Look at fishkeeping in home aquariums. Two examples, goldfish belong in ponds, they are large fish. They don’t stop growing, if they are kept in tanks too small, their internal organs deform by continuing to grow.
Betta fish- Siamese fighting fish are often kept in tiny bowls. They require at least a 5 gallon tank.


@Agatha_Sicily: Pope Benedict made the following statement on factory farming: “Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” (Notre Dame magazine)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

2416 Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.


As far as I’m aware, we’re allowed to judge whether factory farming is something we want to support with our dollars, or if it’s something we want to try and change about the world.

I think that monoculture of any kind is imprudent. If you look at the variety of livestock that we had 100 years ago, there were all kinds of creatures who were uniquely suited to whatever niche they occupied. If you wanted a meat chicken, you weren’t just looking at your Cornish cross, or whatever the commercial equivalent is. You had Barbezieux and Dominiques and Bresse and Sussex, and each had its own history and its own niche. If you wanted eggs, you had Black Penedesenca and Chantecler and Marans and Dorkings and Cochins and Spangled Orloffs, not just White Leghorn hybrids.

People used to be involved with their food. But once you hit the 1950’s and the 60’s, not so much. During the economic uncertainties of the 70’s, people moved back in that direction. But once you hit the affluence of the 80’s and the 90’s and the 2000’s, you moved away again.

So, rather than saying, “These people are handling food wrong,” you need to step up and say, “I want to handle my food right.” That’s not to say you need to go all granola-crunchy and keep a Jersey in your backyard. But figure out what’s sustainable, and how you can connect with the food you eat in a way that is gratifying. You can go to your local butcher, and arrange to buy half a calf. You can join up with your local CSA, and get locally-grown produce. You can buy honey from your local beekeeper. You can buy milk from the farmer’s market or the local dairy stand, if you’re lucky to have it-- either raw, if you’re able to get it, or perhaps low-temperature-pasteurized/non-homogenized.

But it’s rarely useful to say, “Those people need to change” without first asking, “What do I need to change in myself to affect the world around me?”


Being from farm country I have seen what these factory farms are like. The farmers themselves are good Catholic or Christian people and many are kind to their animals and God bless them for feeding the world… But they tend to see animals as stock, not as thinking feeling creatures. They are hardened by it and think that animal lovers are ignorant and we think that they are. If you saw the movie or read the book Heaven is For Real (Yeah, I know, it’s not a Catholic take on things) but the little boy said: “There are lots of animals in Heaven.” He also said that Jesus had a horse. I believe that all animals return to our Father in Heaven, for He knows even when a sparrow falls and they are his creatures too. So I think that if you are a good Catholic you should treat animals with respect and as much kindness as you can. Not 5 chickens to a cage drowning in their own waste. Or puppy mills where the waste of the dogs above you falls onto you in winter and stifling summer never leaving that cage. Or hog factories where the pigs are so cramped and bored. I have no problem with the American farmers, just the ones that treat God’s creatures like meat machines.


Yes. To the extent possible, our family has begun supporting local farms and now buy most of our meat, produce, eggs, and milk this way, and we don’t spend much more than we did when we bought these things at the grocery store. We did our research to find cost effective options (there can be a drastic markup since it’s “trendy” to buy food this way for some folks) but we’re really happy with it, eat a much larger variety than we used to, and we know the animals are treated well by the farmers who make a living from our business.

We didn’t make this change all at once and we certainly didn’t just jump to the first person hawking $8/lb meat (yikes). But with baby steps we’ve really changed the way we eat and I am very happy with it.


Dominion implies wise stewardship, not cruel exploitation. Animals can feel pain. Therefore factory farming is wrong.


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