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Mega farms: does our society really want animal production on this industrial scale?

The latest campaign by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), highlights the rise of so-called “mega-farms”. There is no formal definition of a mega farm, but in the USA, “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs) are defined as those housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs or 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle. In the UK, special permits are needed if they house more than 40,000 chickens, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows. The term “mega farm” seems like appropriate terminology. There are now 789 mega farms in the UK, and the CIWF online map allows you to see if there’s one near you.
The wording on the website is eye-catching:
Around 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in factory farms, where they spend their lives in overcrowded barns or cages. Factory farming has spread across the country to satisfy our appetite for cheap meat, dairy, and eggs, at great cost to animal welfare, human health, and the environment. Follow this link to see how much chicken, pig, and dairy factory farming there is where you live.”

The pros and cons of gigantic farms

Mega farms are controversial. Animal welfare groups like CIWF are quick to condemn them for turning animals into commodities devoid of any value other than their market price, while farming organisations argue that mega farms offer the best hope of maintaining good animal welfare while also producing the cheapest possible meat, milk and eggs. So what’s the truth?  
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BBC’s Trust Me I’m A Vet – informative educational television let down by poor scientific technique

The first series of Trust Me I'm A Vet on BBC2 was anticipated with hopeful curiosity by vets and pet owners. With the BBC's reputation for good quality science, and the direct input of vets in practice working closely the UK veterinary schools, this was an exciting opportunity to spread good quality information about pets and veterinary science. This type of prime time public education has the potential to make a serious difference to people's knowledge about animals and so consequently to improve the quality of care that pets get from their owners. So after the three episodes that made up the first series, did the programme live up to expectations?
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If cats were banned from going outside, the rats and mice of the world would celebrate

Dr Peter Marra, an academic who is the director of the Smithsonian migratory bird centre in Washington, has written a book called “Cat Wars”, and he's made a call for all cats to be kept indoors or on a lead to address the “devastating impact” that they have on wildlife.
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A message from the Easter Bunny for owners of pet rabbits

I've often wondered about the oddness of the Easter Bunny. What does a rabbit have to do with Christianity? And why on earth would a rabbit produce eggs? A little internet research was enough to find some answers.
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BBC’s Today Programme asks a profound question: how much is a dog’s life worth?

Dogs and vets' fees took centre stage in the UK media yesterday when they featured on the BBC's Today programme, the most popular show on Radio 4, with over 7 million listeners every week. One of the presenters, Evan Davis, brought his whippet, Mr Whippy, into the studio, and a discussion on vets' fees followed. Mr Davis recounted how he'd spent £4000 on fixing Mr
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