The History of Industrial Farming

sprout of recently appeared corn


Farming on an industrial basis has always been an intriguing concept, but it really got off to grand proportions in the early 2000s. Another name for such enterprises is concentrated feeding animal operations. This is as noted by the proliferation of feed lots for hogs and cattle that grew like mushrooms in the Midwest.


It was found that it was cheaper to be able to grow and feed large numbers of livestock in a limited geographical area. Controlling their feed and adding hormones, antibiotics, as well as other nutrients to add weight and offset disease is as well much cheaper.


Another area of fast growth due to industrialized farming methods is found with poultry, especially chickens and turkeys. Millions of birds are grown under controlled conditions to supply the wants and needs of the buying public. This is both domestically in the United States and shipped abroad as well.


It is estimated today that 99.9 percent of the chickens for meat, 97 percent of chickens producing eggs, 99 percent of the turkeys, 95 percent of hogs and 78 percent of the cattle are all produced in industrial settings. For each animal that is produced for human consumption, there are only three to five companies which are involved and control the entire output of these animals.


In addition, the average animal has evolved from what was deemed to be “normal” years ago into super production machines themselves. For example, in the year 1950, the average cow produced around 665 gallons of milk each year. Today, they now produce somewhere on the average of 2,300 gallons per year.


Before, when a baby pig is born, it would weigh around 2 pounds. But now in six months, it tips the scales at around 250 pounds. This is way more than 6-month-old pigs weighed years ago. With selective breeding, genetic engineering and regulated infusion of hormones and antibiotics, we have been able to breed super pigs and cows. They produce more milk and heavier animals that bring higher prices at the market.


The bottom line is that by having a more efficient model of creating animals that are “more suited” for large consumption, we have met the demand for more and more of what we as a society deem necessary for our food supply. Confinement of thousands of animals in small spaces, rather than in fields is part of a systematic method to get production at the highest level but at the lowest cost.