Factory farming is the largest source of animal cruelty in the world and contributes to AMR

"Overuse of antibiotics for farmed animals is harmful."

Roughly three-quarters of all antibiotics sold each year are marketed for use in farm animals rather than humans.  

Forget the slogans. Forget the catchy jingles. Forget the clever advertising. Businesses are exploiting and abusing animals on a staggering scale for the sake of profit.

People are dying. Antibiotics are becoming ineffective. What's happening?

Already, more than 700,000 people die each year from superbugs where antibiotics are ineffective in treating infections.  

Alarmingly, up to 10 million people are expected to die from superbugs each year by 2050. These will disproportionately affect the poorest countries in the world.  

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"A life of just 42 days. Is this a life worth living? "

antibiotics overuse in factory farming

This is cruelty

Crammed chickens in cages

What is an Antibiotic? 

The word antibiotic means “against life.” Antibiotics, also known as antibacterial, are medicines that help in completely killing or slowing down the growth of bacteria. 

What is Antimicrobial Resistance? 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when an antibiotic loses its ability to control or kill bacteria effectively. In other terms, an organism's capacity to resist the killing effects of an antibiotic to which it was earlier susceptible. Antibiotic resistance is often called “Superbugs.” 

Superbugs in supermarkets

 

Propping up low-welfare farming with antibiotic overuse

Antibiotics are the silent props of the factory farming system, preventing stressed, confined animals from otherwise getting sick in the dismal conditions they live in.  

Factory farms squash large numbers of genetically uniform animals into stressful, barren environments which have no access to the outdoors or natural light. Animals are often caged, with no room to turn around or lie down and fully extend their limbs, heads or wings. These highly stressful conditions can lead to injuries and abnormal behaviours including biting cages, chewing repetitively until frothing the mouth, pecking feathers or even cannibalism. 

antibiotics given to farmed animals

Chickens are crammed together. They live the life of suffering and pain. They need space not antibiotics.

The intense stress and crowding would naturally hinder the animals’ growth and development and make them susceptible to disease and infection. Including regular doses of antibiotics in the feed and water for entire herds or flocks, in addition to injecting drugs at various stages throughout their development, is a low-cost way to keep the highly-stressed, immune-compromised animals alive and growing at a fast rate. Antibiotics are used across groups to prevent these stressed animals from getting sick; they prop us a system of suffering for food production.  

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Antibiotics are used across groups to prevent the stressed animals getting sick; propping us a system of suffering for food production. The health and wellbeing of animals, people and our planet are interdependent. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest news from this and our other vital campaigns

The scale of suffering caused by factory farming is truly astounding.

  • The WHO recommends that antibiotics should not be routinely used to prevent disease across groups of farm animals. Despite this, the practice remains widespread on cruel factory farms, with as much as 75% of the world’s antibiotics used on farm animals.
  • Resistant bacteria—called “superbugs”—are carried off farms via water, air, workers, insects, wildlife, and meat, reaching humans and causing life-threatening illness. 
  • There is ample science showing how antibiotics overuse on factory farms leads to superbugs (AMR) that spreads to workers, the environment and into the food chain.  

 

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Antibiotic overuse in farming continues.....

Pig in a higher welfare farm

Yet antibiotic use in farming continues. This is despite the UN, the G20 and many world leaders recognizing superbugs as a global health emergency and calling for comprehensive actions in human medicine and agriculture to address the problem.

The health and wellbeing of animals, people and our planet are interdependent. Poor animal health and welfare in factory farming negatively affect food safety, our environment and climate. Ending factory farming will curb the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from farm animals and stop superbugs in their tracks. It will bring better animal health and welfare, healthier diets for people and a climate-safe and sustainable food system.