The most abusive forms of factory farming in the U.S. are those that are steadily being outlawed in the European Union. These include the confinement of breeding sows in narrow metal stalls, veal crates, cramped battery cages for laying hens, the breeding of poultry birds to have enormous appetites and then withholding food and the starvation of laying flocks to shock them into a new laying cycle.
Sow stalls and tethers or gestation crates, are two similar systems for keeping pregnant pigs in close confinement. In both systems, the sow is prevented from being able to exercise or even turn round for nearly four months at a time. Her entire 16 and a half-week pregnancy is spent in a narrow metal-barred stall that is barely bigger than the sow herself. Bedding material is not normally provided.
Battery cages are wire cages for egg-laying hens. They are so small that the hens cannot flap their wings, so barren they have no nest for their eggs, and so restricting that the birds bones often become so brittle they can snap like dry twigs. Cages may be stacked up to 9 tiers high, with as many as 90,000 birds caged in one windowless building.
Veal crates are narrow, solid-sided wooden boxes for rearing surplus dairy calves for slaughter.
The crates are so narrow that the incarcerated calf cannot turn around for much of its life. Deprived of exercise, some can barely walk to slaughter at 4-6 months old.
Crated calves are fed an all-liquid, iron-deficient diet to produce the pale, anaemic white veal prized by gourmets.
Breeding chickens are deliberately bred to grow bigger and faster than nature intended. But if breeing stock are allowed to eat as much as their appetite demands, they become too heavy to breed efficiently so industry restricts their feed. They suffer permanent hunger as a result.