The Cruelest of All Factory Farm Products: Eggs from Caged Hens

By Bruce

Battery cages are the small wire cages where about 95 percent of laying hens spend their entire lives; each hen is given about 67 to 76 square inches of space (a standard sheet of paper measures 94 square inches). To get a sense of a hen’s life in a battery cage, imagine spending your entire life in a wire cage the size of your bathtub with four other people. You wouldn’t be able to move, so your muscles and bones would deteriorate. Your feet would become lacerated. You would go insane. That’s precisely what happens to laying hens.

In the United States, roughly nine billion chickens, pigs, and other farm animals are consumed annually, and the vast majority of them are abused in ways that would warrant felony cruelty-to-animals charges were dogs or cats the victims. But three systems are particularly cruel: gestation crates for pregnant pigs, veal crates for calves, and battery cages for laying hens. As of January 1, all three are illegal across Europe, and it is past time for the United States and Canada to follow suit.

After decades of consumer outcry, the veal industry recently took the important step of announcing that it will work toward eliminating the crate confinement of calves. And, as discussed previously, gestation crates may also be headed for the dust bin of history. While this is positive news for pigs and calves, there is currently no clear end in sight for battery cages, with roughly 95 percent of all eggs in the United States still coming from caged hens. There are roughly 4.5 million mother pigs and fewer than 500,000 calves in crates, and approximately 250 million hens in battery cages. So for every caged calf or pig, there are roughly 50 caged hens.

Barren battery cages are so hideously cruel that, in addition to having been outlawed across the European Union, they have been condemned by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which included former Kansas governor John Carlin and former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (who also chaired the House Agriculture committee), as well as farmers and ranchers. They’re also condemned by every animal protection group in the world.

Here’s why:

Battery Cages Destroy Chickens’ Bodies
Battery cages are so small that not one hen can extend her wings, yet there are three or more hens in each cage. The animals’ muscles and bones waste away from lack of use. By the time hens are removed from cages after about two years, they’ve suffered from severe bone loss and tens of millions suffer new broken bones as they’re ripped from their cages.

hen in battery cage

Some birds’ skeletal systems become so weak that their spinal cords deteriorate and they become paralyzed; the animals then die from dehydration in their cages. This unimaginably horrid situation is so common that the industry has a term for it, “cage fatigue,” and investigation after investigation finds living birds forced to stand on the rotting, mummified carcasses of their dead cage-mates. Additionally, standing and rubbing against wire cages destroys the health of hens’ feathers and skin, and the birds’ overgrown claws often become caught in cage wires; they either die where they are trapped, or they have to tear their skin to escape. Click here or here for documentation and video; it is hard to imagine a life worse than that of a battery caged hen.

Battery Cages Destroy Chickens’ Minds
Chickens outperform both dogs and cats on tests of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral complexity. Dr. Jane Goodall explains that “farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined… they are individuals in their own right.” Discovery Magazine explains research on chickens from the University of Bristol: “Chickens do not just live in the present but can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control… something previously attributed only to humans and other primates…”

rescued hen at farm animal sanctuary

Symphony, rescued from an egg factory farm

In battery cages, these inquisitive and social animals — who are particularly doting mothers — have their every natural desire frustrated. They never perch, forage, take a dust bath, nest, or explore their surroundings. Their lives are categorized by unmitigated mental suffering — from the moment they’re crammed into a cage until the moment they are torn from it two years later, as is well-documented in this Humane Society of the United States report.

This is what housing looks like for 95 percent of American hens. Each egg requires 34 hours in these conditions.

So far, the only national grocery store chain to have banned the sale of eggs from caged hens is Whole Foods. The only restaurant chain promising to ban them from its supply chain is Burger King (by 2017). These companies deserve plaudits for their progress. These types of cages will also be illegal in California in 2015 and in Michigan in 2019, and legislation to ban them will be introduced in Massachusetts soon (if you live in Massachusetts, check for updates).

At Farm Sanctuary, we spend our lives with farm animals, and we wouldn’t eat them or their eggs under any circumstances. We recoil at the abuse of hens in all systems, including cage-free and colony cage conditions. But we also work to abolish the very worst abuses of farm animals, and it’s hard to imagine anything worse than the tiny, barren, cramped battery cages where 250 million hens are currently forced to spend their lives.

Battery cages have to go. Please visit to find out how you can help, and watch this video of Allison Janney as she introduces Symphony, a hen who escaped from a battery cage.

This blog originally appeared on Huffington Post on January 16, 2013

Gimme Shelter

This year, with the help of our supporters and members, we rescued hundreds of animals from abuse, neglect, and peril, giving them refuge and rehabilitation at our three shelters. As the year closes, we’d like to share with you updates on some of these amazing survivors.

Northern California Shelter
By Tara


Scribbles was rescued from rough treatment as a backyard pet, when he was a tiny kid.

When he was still too small for the goat herd, Scribbles lived in the more subdued company of our sheep flock. His spunk delighted caregivers and guests from the get-go, but the sheep were not impressed with this newcomer’s antics — running, jumping, and playing all day. To their relief, we soon decided it was time for him to join his fellow goats. Scribbles was thrilled. So many new friends to head-butt! He quickly learned, however, that these friends would butt him right back — a shock at first, but he quickly adjusted his expectations. Scribbles is still sometimes too enthusiastic for the tastes of some herd members, but when this happens, seasoned mama goats Annie and Debra put him in his place. His peers often indulge him in play, but Scribbles has no trouble amusing himself by running through the pasture at full speed and executing acrobatic jumps while caretakers and visitors watch with delight. Scribbles is still growing like a weed and on his way to becoming a tall and handsome adult.

Tilly and friends


In February our Orland shelter opened its doors to 400 hens rescued from an abandoned factory egg farm, where they had struggled to survive crammed into battery cages without food or water for two weeks. It was a long road to recovery for these girls, who arrived feeble, emaciated, and covered with parasites. To our grief, some were too far gone to save. Most, however, slowly gained strength — and they discovered joy. For the first time in their lives, these hens had space to flap their wings and felt grass beneath their feet and the sun on their feathers.

Many of the hens needed prolonged treatment for poultry mites. Even with these bloodsucking parasites, one particularly vivacious hen named Tilly, got right down to the business of enjoying herself with plenty of socializing and sunbathing. And now that she’s parasite-free, she loves life all the more, especially at meal time: When caregivers arrive with food, Tilly is right there to greet them.

Over the year, we have worked hard not only to rehabilitate these girls but also to find them permanent homes through our Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN). In the immediate aftermath of the rescue, we were able to place 50 of the healthiest hens, and have since placed another 100 with wonderful families and sanctuaries in California, Oregon, and Washington. The hens who continue to need extra care will remain with us at the shelter.


New York Shelter
By Susie


Ewes and Lambs

In April, we rescued 60 desperately neglected animals from a backyard butcher in Cattaraugus County, New York. Among the survivors were several mother sheep who nearly starved to death as they struggled to keep their young lambs alive. We have been thrilled to watch these weak, sick sheep transform into the contented flock that now thrives at our New York Shelter.

The first family I saw as I entered that horrible barn in Cattaraugus was Yolanda and her twin lambs James and Anne. Yolanda was so weak that her body had stopped producing milk, and her babies were hungry and bloated. Now they’re the picture of health. Yolanda, like many of the others, was terrified of humans at first and remains a little wary, but her twins have no such reservations. Anne in particular is a free spirit, sometimes to her mother’s chagrin. As Anne scampers off in search of visitors, head-scratches, and adventure, Yolanda “baas” after her.



Flock mate Adriano, by contrast, has displayed a stronger sense of familial responsibility. From the start, Adriano was fiercely protective of his mother and his twin, Isabella. When a staff member briefly separated him from his family during a barn cleaning, the 30-pound lamb fearlessly delivered an admonitory head-butt. Although he is still a devoted protector of his mom and sister, Adriano now realizes that the humans here are his friends. He greets you every time you enter the barn, standing close by lest you forget to pet his head and chest.


Like Adriano, an old ewe named Audrey has also acted as a pillar of strength since the rescue. The thinnest and weakest sheep of the rescue, she clearly had lived on the property for a long time, enduring pregnancy after pregnancy only to lose her babies to slaughter. Nevertheless, Audrey’s spirit remained unbroken. She has always been the bravest of the Cattaraugus flock, approaching us even at the beginning when the others were too shy. She is a wonderful flock leader. Her fellow sheep stay with her all day, and her devoted son Abbi — the lamb who, at last, she will be allowed to keep with her — is never far from her side.



Belinda was among seven emaciated cattle rescued from the same backyard butcher. Far too old to be safely bred, she was pregnant when we rescued her. As she coped first with starvation on that barren Cattaraugus field and then with the resulting illness at our shelter and at Cornell University Hospital for Animals, Belinda received help not only from us but also from her fellow cows. Her herd mates took in her daughter Octavia, born before her rescue, and then her son Elijah, born at the shelter.

With her children thriving under the care of their adoptive mothers, Belinda could devote her strength to battling her ailments. She struggled with mastitis and a pathological bleeding condition that left wounds wherever her doctors drew blood or administered injections. She had anemia and renal failure. Rotten teeth made it painful for her to eat, and she required immediate dental care. She was extremely sick for months. At one point, she nearly died.


We still monitor her closely for mastitis and give her a special feed to help her gain weight, but Belinda is finally and decisively on the mend. She gets better every day — and happier too. She was once scared of humans, but now she is confident and friendly with her caregivers. And, she adores her new companions in our special-needs herd. Astoundingly, after all she has suffered, Belinda is in love with life.

Julia and Her Piglets

When we last told you about Julia, this brave sow was still recovering from a premature delivery in the wake of a brutal beating. A mere eight hours after we rescued her from a factory farm where workers kicked, shocked, and dragged her by her ears, she gave birth to sixteen piglets at our shelter. At one and half years old, she had been on her next-to-last litter, after which she would have been sent to slaughter.

Julia with Diane, Linus, Betty, and Christopher.

Julia’s babies were fragile, and many needed intensive care to survive. But survive they did – and how! All two pounds or less when they were born, these hearty youngsters are now between 50 and 75 pounds. They are happy, confident, and enthusiastic about life. No wonder — they’ve known nothing but kindness from their first moments.

We’ve placed several of these carefree pigs in wonderful adoptive homes, making sure to keep each with his or her favorite sibling. Diane and Linus, who had the hardest time at first, remain here with their mom. Now healthy and strong, Julia is the happiest pig I know, and she never misses a chance to talk to you when you walk by her yard or come into her pen. Even after all she endured at the hands of humans, she greets us with pure joy.

With the support of our members and friends, we have been able to give these, and all the animals we rescued in 2012, a chance to live, to heal, and to know happiness. We extend warm thanks to everyone who has made this year’s rescue efforts possible, and we look forward to helping even more animals together in 2013!


Remembering Teresa

By Susie

Teresa was already living at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter when I started working here more than a decade ago — but I met her even before that. Our first encounter was in the summer of 1998, during a rescue I’ll never forget.

We Met Under Terrible Circumstances
Back then, I was working at another sanctuary, and we received an emergency call to help with a large number of confiscated animals (you can read the full story here). A driver transporting 167 pigs from a North Carolina factory farm to a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse abandoned his vehicle on a street in Washington, D.C. It was a hot day, and the pigs were trapped in an intensely crowded metal trailer with no water. They could easily have died there, but, luckily, some neighbors called the police. The Washington Humane Society seized the trailer, and, shortly after midnight, it arrived at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary in Maryland.

Freedom to Live a Pig’s Life
It took us over 24 hours to get the pigs off the trailer, which was three stories high and had no ramps. A local horse rescue group built wooden ramps to help the frightened animals down. Seeing those pigs as they struggled out of that awful trailer was the hardest thing I’d ever done at the time. They were all overweight. They were so weak and suffering from joint pain that they walked on their knees. As soon as they reached the ground, they started eating dirt — something they had never seen before. These six-month-old pigs were born in a factory farm warehouse and spent their entire lives indoors. They didn’t know how to drink out of water tubs. They never had any sort of bedding, but, on the first night after their rescue, they made big, soft beds for themselves out of straw. This was the beginning of the life they were meant to live! Since birth, they were unable to do the things pigs love to do — but deep down they knew how.

Among the many natural behaviors that are thwarted in the lives of factory farm pigs is the formation of functional social structures. Pigs are crowded together so tightly that they can barely move, much less give each other space or form friendships. This is intensely frustrating for them because pigs are social, and they crave close friendships. After her rescue, Teresa took full advantage of the opportunity to do just that.

Bosom Buddies
Teresa was one of the 40 pigs from the D.C. rescue who found a home at our shelter in Watkins Glen, New York. During her long time with us, she had several “best” friends from among that group. Her first and very best friend was Howard. They always slept face-to-face, and I often found them chatting up a storm first thing in the morning and right before they went to sleep at night. Both pigs were very friendly and enjoyed company, but they loved each other most of all. When we lost Howard to liver failure, Teresa was devastated and became very depressed.

New best buddies helped her heal. She developed close friendships with Kari, Nancy, and Dale. Other than Teresa, Dale lived the longest of any of the pigs from their rescue. In their old age, they lived together in our retirement barn. Two years ago, however, Dale passed away. One by one, Teresa’s friends succumbed to the ailments that beset domestic pigs, even those who receive diligent care. Now she was the only one left. I could tell this was hard for her.

Howard and Teresa

Kari and Teresa

Teresa and Nancy

Teresa in Love
Around the time Teresa lost Dale, a pig named Harry lost his elderly mother, Hazel, to cancer. Like Teresa, he was lonely. He mourned deeply, and we worried for him. We have seen pigs shut down for weeks, not wanting food and not attempting to get up and be active. Pigs don’t always appreciate new roommates, but when we introduced Harry and Teresa, and these two hit it off at once, and they became a great comfort to each other. They enjoyed the same things: eating, sleeping, mud- and sun-bathing, and more sleeping (spooning each other of course). It was love. They reminded us of an old married couple, and they reminded each other how sweet life can be.

The Circle of Life
Life was sweet for Teresa, despite her health problems. She survived uterine cancer and lived the last five years of her life with mammary cancer, which remained in remission. Like all domestic pigs, however, her body was distorted by industrial breeding practices that cause pigs to grow to unsustainable sizes even on restricted diets, predisposing her to joint ailments. As she aged, she began to experience severe arthritis in her front legs, and, despite our care and treatment, the condition slowly worsened. Late this autumn, it became so severe that nothing we could do eased her pain. We knew it was time to help her to a peaceful end.

KJ, the dog, and Teresa

Over her many years, Teresa loved and lost and mourned dear friends, but she was always ready to open her heart to new ones. Now it is our turn to mourn Teresa and also, like her, to find comfort in being there for others. We are looking for a new partner for Harry, who misses his friend. In this way we honor an amazing pig who lived an incredible life, one I wish every pig could have.

Wal-Mart Harms Animals, Ignores Science

By Bruce Friedrich

There is a battle going on between animal protection advocates and the pork industry over “gestation crates,” the 2-foot by 7-foot cages that confine about 80 percent of the United States’ 5.5 million breeding pigs. In these crates, pregnant pigs are unable to engage in most of their most important natural behaviors. They’re never able to turn around or even lie down comfortably, day and night, for their entire lives.

Honey, escaped life in a gestation crate during the flooding of the Mississippi River in 2008. She now lives at our New York Shelter.

Over the past decade, nine states have banned the crates — most recently, Rhode Island, after lobbying by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the ASPCA, and Farm Sanctuary. Building on our legislative success, HSUS has convinced a long list of corporate behemoths to phase out the systems, from Smithfield Foods, Oscar Mayer, and Hormel to Costco and Burger King.

When a practice is so cruel that Smithfield Foods agrees it has to go, you have to wonder who might be foolish enough to defend it. In fact, our campaign has been so successful that a former stalwart defender of crates, agricultural scientist Ted Friend from Texas A&M, has called on pork producers to stop their “kicking and screaming” and to recognize that a crate phase-out is simply “another inevitable change.”

Wal-Mart: Ignores the Science and Defends Cruelty to Animals.
Mercy for Animals documented their investigation into a Wal-Mart supplier. The following video shows in graphic detail just how bad these crates really are. Please watch.

I’ve attempted several times, without success, to secure a response from Wal-Mart concerning their continued use of gestation crates in their supply chain. In an online response to the allegations of abuse, the company calls crate use “a complicated issue” with tenable arguments “on both sides.” This statement simply isn’t true, and it ignores the findings of scientific studies on the effects of gestation crate confinement on pigs.

Julia was pregnant when she rescued from a life of confinement in a gestation crate, and cruel abuse, in a factory farm in New York. She now lives at our New York Shelter with her children.

The Scientific Consensus
The science is not in dispute: immobilization of pigs in crates is highly damaging for them, both mentally and physically.

There are a host of physical problems that result from crate confinement, each of which represents extreme suffering for pigs. First, the animals’ muscles and bones waste away so severely from lack of use that walking becomes excruciating; even standing up can be painful. Second, because the animals rub against the bars of their crates and lie in their own excrement all day and night, they suffer painful ammonia burns on their skin, and their lungs become raw from breathing putrid air. Third, the animals are in a constant state of starvation because they are fed about half of what they would normally consume. Fourth, due to lack of exercise and decreased water consumption, many sows suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are associated with a high mortality rate. For source information on each of these issues, check out this scientific report from the Humane Society of the United States.

The situation is no better in terms of the animals’ mental health: Pigs have cognitive and emotional capacities beyond those of dogs, and, in some areas, they outperform even chimpanzees. So it’s no surprise that they suffer mental and emotional anguish when they’re unable to move for most of their lives. Meat industry consultant Dr. Temple Grandin states unequivocally what the science proves — that animals need companionship every bit as much as humans do; they love to play, they experience joy, and more. Every one of these natural desires is impossible to experience when they are confined in tiny crates. The relentless stress and frustration routinely leads to mental instability in these animals, who chew maniacally on the bars in frustration causing their mouths to bleed from cuts and sores.

Nikki also had been confined in a gestation crate when she was pregnant. Like Honey, she escaped during floods and gave birth on a levee. She was rescued and now lives at our New York Shelter with her children.

At Farm Sanctuary, we spend our lives with farm animals, and we wouldn’t eat them regardless of their treatment prior to slaughter. There is no moral or rational difference between consuming a dog or a pig, a cat or a chicken.

But we also work to eliminate the worst abuses of farm animals, and it’s hard to imagine anything worse than gestation crates; immobilizing animals for their entire lives qualifies, without a touch of hyperbole, as torture.

Please take action now to pressure Wal-Mart to stop its support for cruelty to animals.


Turkeys I Have Known

By Susie Coston

Here at Farm Sanctuary, we think a lot about turkeys this time of year. That’s because more than 45 million turkeys used for food are slaughtered in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Apart from that grim statistic, there is so much that I wish more people knew about them.


I wish more people knew how turkeys suffer. On factory farms, turkeys are selectively bred to develop horribly distorted bodies — chests so huge that they can’t mate or fly or perch. Their abnormal size overtaxes their hearts, and their feet and legs are crippled from bearing so much weight. They are crammed into windowless warehouses by the thousands, and parts of their sensitive beaks and toes are cut off without anesthetics.

Even more than that, I wish more people knew that turkeys are like us in so many ways. Turkeys are incredibly personable, each a unique individual. In fact, many of the qualities that endear them to us are the very ones we value in other human beings. Let me tell you about some turkeys I have known.

Chicky, one of the most popular turkeys to ever live at the New York Shelter, had health issues, but he never showed guests anything but his stunning strut and his sweet nature. He let adults and children touch his wattles and snood and stroke his feathers. If you whistled, he’d answer you with a gobble. Chicky’s other love, besides attention, was food. Gaining weight was not a problem for Chicky, though! His constant strutting kept him fit.


Around here, turkeys are famous, sometimes infamous, for their curiosity. We have a new turkey named Daisy who is even more curious than most. When you are in Daisy’s vicinity, whatever you are doing, she’s probably right behind you. Walk through the turkey pasture – there’s Daisy! Walk into the barn – there’s Daisy! Turn your back on your healthcare kit – there’s Daisy taking inventory! Some of the turkeys like to run off with the items they find in our kits, but Daisy just keeps digging, determined to investigate everything inside.


Our dear Marino was the clown of the farm and such a love. He arrived with facial paralysis that had caused his beak to be permanently crossed, resulting in eating and breathing difficulties. We gave him lots of attention and help, and he was always a good sport. He was intrigued when anyone brought a camera to his barn and strutted right up to it, thinking himself quite a celebrity. One year, we found a turkey-sized Santa hat for Marino. I swear he was fond of posing with it! Marino made us smile, and he knew it and loved it.


Hildy, one of my all-time favorite gals, lived at the New York Shelter for eight years. When you called her name, she’d come running. She spent hours with caregivers and guests, letting them stroke her back until she drifted off to sleep. This friendliness extended to her flock mates, too. She was especially close with her best friend, Kima, but no fellow turkey was beyond the scope of her good will. Like many animals, turkeys can be territorial and sometimes give newcomers a hard time, but Hildy never fought with anyone. She received every guest and new arrival to her home with complete graciousness. We could all learn from these turkeys: Put our best foot forward (and maybe even strut our stuff), keep our eyes open to the fascinating world around us, have a sense of humor, and, most of all, be kind to every living creature.



We could all learn from these turkeys: Put our best foot forward (and maybe even strut our stuff), keep our eyes open to the fascinating world around us, have a sense of humor, and, most of all, be kind to every living creature.

The Red Meat Myth

By Bruce

At Farm Sanctuary, we support incremental change. When someone decides to consume fewer animals, that’s a good thing. When someone becomes vegan for the sake of their health, that’s also a good thing.

We know that adopting a vegan diet often takes time, and some people find that it helps to take steps on their way toward vegan eating. That’s why we applaud Johns Hopkins’ Meatless Mondays, Mark Bittman’s “Vegan Until 6,” and other campaigns and efforts that start people on a path to veganism — and save animals at the same time. There’s one change that many people may undertake, however, that unintentionally harms more animals than it helps.

I’ve stopped eating red meat – There’s More to the Story
We hear it all the time: “I’ve stopped eating red meat.” We want to be supportive and kind in our response — the person is, after all, telling us about progress they’ve made toward compassionate living. Yet, from an animal welfare perspective, eating chickens and turkeys instead of pigs and cattle is actually counterproductive.

Consider this: Chickens and turkeys are so much smaller than cattle or pigs that eating chickens or turkeys results in the intense confinement and deaths of many more animals. In fact, Americans consume 100 times more chickens than pigs and 250 times more chickens than cattle. Shockingly, chickens and turkeys comprise more than 98.5 percent of all slaughtered farm animals.

Chickens and turkeys in the food industry are treated even worse than cattle. Cattle who are used for meat, for instance, may have some degree of pasture time, but more than 99 percent of turkeys and chickens are confined for their entire lives, unable ever to engage in even their basic natural behaviors. Sadly, it gets worse.

Chickens’ upper bodies now grow about six times more quickly than they did 50 years ago. According to University of Arkansas, “If you grew as fast as a chicken, you’d weigh 349 pounds at age two.” The stress on their bones, joints, and organs is debilitating. Conditions are so bad in modern chicken sheds — which look like carpets of live but unmoving chickens — that the death losses are one percent per week. In a shed containing 30,000 birds, which is fairly small for modern chicken sheds, that’s 300 dead birds per week!

The only federal law that purports to cover farm animals, the Humane Slaughter Act, entirely exempts birds — in other words, 98.5 percent of slaughtered animals are completely unprotected. I won’t give the gruesome details, but what this means is that every aspect of chicken slaughter in the United States would be illegal if these animals were mammals rather than birds.

Chickens are Complex
Some people start on a path toward veganism by no longer eating the larger animals out of the mistaken assumption that cows and pigs are more “like us” (or smarter) than birds and fish. That shouldn’t matter when we’re talking about compassion, of course, but it’s also not true. Studies of chickens have shown that they can learn from watching other chickens on television, delay gratification, and demonstrate other behaviors that indicate that they are at least as cognitively complex as cats, dogs, and other mammals. Find out more on our Someone Project pages, at

A Gentle Conversation
So the next time someone tells you that they’ve given up red meat, gently ask them “why red meat, in particular?” If they cite health reasons, let them know about the cruelty that birds endure, and you might also mention that studies show no net benefit to cutting back on red meat if it’s replaced with chicken, which has no fiber or complex carbohydrates and is packed with saturated fat and cholesterol. According to the USDA, chicken today has more than 10 times as much fat as it used to (and three times as much fat as protein). Chicken is also the most likely meat to be contaminated with salmonella, campylobacter, and other bacteria, which lead to tens of millions of illnesses annually.

In conversation, never criticize or condemn a person’s food choices, of course, but follow this question with factual information. Explain why the decision to forego red meat is counterproductive in terms of saving lives or lessening cruelty to animals, and educate them about food choices that both save lives and improve their health. That single conversation can make all the difference for thousands of farm animals.

Bruce is Farm Sanctuary’s Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives. Check out his essay and video presentation on effective advocacy in the “Be a Better Advocate” section of

Bringing the Sanctuary to You: Farm Sanctuary Launches a New Website!

By Gene

At the gates of a Farm Sanctuary shelter, you will encounter a sign that reads, “You are now entering the animals’ sanctuary. Please remember that you are a guest in their home.” Over the years, thousands of guests have passed beyond those gates to discover a world like no other.

In the world outside our shelters, multitudes of farm animals are killed for food, having spent their brief, miserable lives unknown and unseen by the people who think of them as only meat on their plates. More than nine billion land animals are slaughtered every year in the United States alone. In the face of this overwhelming statistic, it can be hard to know how to begin to make a difference. At Farm Sanctuary shelters, however, we begin with the basics — one person and one animal, meeting each other. This simple event can motivate a person to change the way he or she lives, and when that decision takes root, it begins to change things for farm animals.  In fact, every person who chooses a meat-free life style saves dozens of land animals each year. If that same person shares his or her experiences as a vegetarian or vegan and influences others, that impact is multiplied!

That’s why we want as many people as possible to interact with farm animals — not just those who can visit our New York Shelter in Watkins Glen, our Northern California Shelter in Orland, or our Southern California Shelter near Los Angeles, but people all over the country and the world. To that end, our new website brings the Farm Sanctuary experience to web visitors like never before.

On this newly designed site, vivid photo and video galleries present life at the shelters and let visitors get to know the animals who call Farm Sanctuary home. You will observe our residents in moments of tenderness and play (not to mention mischief!), watch them heal from past suffering, and celebrate their new lives. We love caring for these unique individuals, and we’re thrilled that we’ll be able to introduce them to everyone who visits us online.

The site is also home to Someone, Not Something. This new project presents scientific research supporting what we know intuitively from working with farm animals every day: These creatures possess intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities; they have preferences; they form relationships. To illustrate these facts, we will also share the stories of more of the amazing animals who live at our shelters. Through their perceptiveness, generosity, friendship, and love of life, these animals exhibit fundamental feelings and needs akin to our own: Throughout their lives with us, farm animals know some of noblest experiences that we associate with being human.

At Farm Sanctuary, animals once fearful and feeble are transformed into strong and joyful individuals who enrich each other’s lives as herd mates, family members, and companions. When people see this for themselves, they are often transformed as well. They are inspired to change their habits, live with greater compassion, and more keenly embody their own ideals. The work of a sanctuary is not only to provide a refuge from what is harsh and unjust in the world; it is also to help all of us — rescued animals, caregivers, visitors, and friends near and far — become our best selves.
So please explore our new website and find a little sanctuary. You are now entering the animals’ home. Welcome!