Feedlots are where cattle and sheep are sent to gain weight before being slaughtered or exported live. They’re giant lots spanning vast areas, packed full of animals that are fed high-calorie diets and given growth hormones so they grow unnaturally fast and meet market weight for slaughter more quickly.
The intensive diet is unnatural and harsh and many animals suffer and die of things like bloat, ulcers or liver disease.
There’s no space to roam. There’s no vegetation. Usually there’s no shade or protection from rain, wind, hail or storms. Heatwaves and a lack of moving air can kill swathes of animals in a matter of hours. Gases from manure cause painful and sometimes fatal respiratory problems for the animals.
With the animals crammed together, diseases like botulism, footrot, pink-eye and herpes are rife. Pests and parasites thrive, causing suffering and spreading disease like tick fever. Animals are pumped full of antibiotics to try to combat these diseases.
Feedlots are seen as a “legitimate husbandry tool” and as usual in the eyes of the law, the animals that suffer on them are considered nothing more than “property”.
What’s a CAFO?
It’s a “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation”. It’s a vast spread of cages, stalls, pens or racks where thousands of animals are confined to be fed and fattened up before slaughter. CAFOs can be indoor or outdoor, but one common defining feature is there’s definitely no vegetation.
In a CAFO, animals’ movement is severely restricted, whether they’re in an enclosure packed with many other animals, or in tiny cages. Livestock feed is trucked in and water is used up in vast quantities, draining local supplies.
Massive waste pools accumulate and force the animals to breathe in fetid and sometimes fatally gassy air. Microbial pathogens from manure taint food and water supplies. Pests and parasites accumulate in huge numbers. They cause diseases and they’re sprayed with poisons that end up contaminating the surrounding area and waterways.
It’s hell for the animals and it’s hell for the environment.
What are we doing?
- Informing the public of the issues associated with feedlots
- Investigating and documenting current feedlot practices in Queensland and reporting suspected violations to the authorities
What can you do?
- Avoid animal products – consider going vegan, a way of life that tries to avoid animal exploitation and suffering.
- Write to your local leaders & politicians about animal suffering on feedlots.
- Talk to people about animal cruelty and suffering on feedlots – spread the word.
Find out more
Visit our Factory Farming page for more information about intensive farming practices in Australia.
Other links for further information on feedlots:
- Feedlots (aerial photos) by Mishka Henner
- Google view of a Texas feedlot
- Facts About CAFOs
- Animal Feeding Operations