Watch: New Drone Footage Reveals That Farm Animals Are Really Raised in Giant Factories—Not on Farms

Sep 9, 2017 by

Animal Rights

They want you to think eggs come from farms. But drones reveal the disturbing truth.

One massive factory farm is an egg facility that likely contains more than 1 million birds living under horrific, inhumane conditions.
Photo Credit: Mercy for Animals

Farms don’t really exist anymore. Today, the overwhelming majority of animals raised and slaughtered for food in the United States are confined inside giant factories. Over the past several years, I have piloted drones over these little-publicized facilities to document their existence, and their devastating impacts on animals, the environment, and public health.

The first of these factory “farms” that I documented were pig facilities. Every one I flew over consisted of rows of windowless metal buildings containing thousands of pigs each. In such places, everything from the lighting to the ventilation is controlled for a single purpose: maximizing the pigs’ growth. These intelligent, sensitive animals suffer the consequences, forced to live every day crowded on barren concrete in metal pens.

These cities of pigs produce city-scale sewage. The waste falls through slats in the floors and is flushed into open outdoor pits that commonly have the surface area of multiple football fields. These cesspools often contain millions of gallons of waste, which can make surrounding communities almost unlivable. I spoke with neighbors who described never knowing when the wind would blow the overwhelming stench of raw sewage their way. Factory pig farms have also been associated with spikes in blood pressure among adult neighbors and increases in asthma symptoms among nearby schoolchildren. Even more disturbing, pig factories commonly lower the levels of these sewage pits by spraying their contents into the air, where they sometimes drift directly onto (and even into) neighbors’ homes.

I recently filmed the largest factory farm I have ever come across: an egg facility that likely contains more than 1 million birds. It is difficult to imagine this immense scale and its diametric opposition to the farms that most people envision as the source of their eggs. For hundreds of yards, my drone passed over one metal building after another, and the image it broadcast made these buildings appear to recede forever into the distance.

Hens in such facilities are often confined for their egg-producing lives in cages so small the birds cannot even fully stretch their wings. These animals are imprisoned this way for an unfathomable year and a half. Hens used for their eggs are intelligent animals with complex social lives. The deprivation of confinement has such a severe emotional impact that they often resort to ceaselessly scratching and pecking one another. Mercy For Animals undercover investigations have even documented hens routinely dying and rotting in cages alongside those laying eggs to be sold as food.

Factory farming exists because it is hidden. But drone footage and undercover investigations are finally bringing the cruel reality of the meat, egg and dairy industries to light. An ever-growing number of people are voting with their dollars and refusing to support these industries by reducing their consumption of animal products or eliminating them altogether. A market research firm recently determined that veganism has grown by 600 percent from 2014 to 2017.

You can be a part of the solution by cutting back on meat, eggs and dairy and eating more plant-based meals. Get started today with free meal plans, recipes, and one-on-one support at

Mark Devries is special projects coordinator for Mercy For Animals, an international farmed animal protection organization.

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