Treatment of animals

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Please find below a selection of statistics about the treatement of animals, both in the UK and around the world.

Disclaimer: This is a collation of third party sources about topics connected to veganism. Some of the links are not to the original sources; we are sharing them to help journalists or researchers with their research and because they may form a helpful starting point.

Animal Experimentations

  • 76% of people think that more effort should be made to find alternatives to using animals and 44% cite the word 'secretive' as the first thing on their mind associated with animal experimentation. Source
  • The UK is one of the biggest reported users of animals in Europe, with 3.4 million animal experiments reported in 2019 - this is the lowest number since 2007. This is a 3% drop from 2018, where the figure was 3.52 million. Sources: [1][2], [3]
  • In the UK, mice, fish, rats and birds make up the large majority of animals used for experiments, but cats, dogs, horses and primates are also used. Source 
  • In 2021, China ended its mandatory animal testing requirements for imported cosmetics products that fall into the ‘general’ category Source.

Sheep

  • Around 1.4 million sheep and goats are killed without being stunned each year in the UK using halal practices. Many people in the UK oppose this form of slaughter, yet purchase halal meat unknowingly, since it is sold in most major outlets, including supermarkets and takeaways, without always being labelled as halal. Sources: [1][2]
  • Every year around 4 million newborn lambs die within a few days of birth, mainly because of malnutrition, disease or exposure to cold weather. Source
  • Male lambs are castrated using elastration, a technique that involves a thick rubber band being placed around the base of the infant’s scrotum, obstructing the blood supply and causing atrophy. This method causes severe pain to the lambs who are provided no pain relief during the process. Lambs also have their tails docked using the same method. Source [p.2]

Pigs

  • Every year in the UK, 10 million pigs are slaughtered for human consumption. Source
  • Pigs have an average lifespan of 15 - 20 years, but reach slaughter rate at 6 months old. Source
  • Less than 3% of UK pigs spend their entire lives outdoors. Source
  • Most big slaughterhouses in the Britain and Europe kill pigs in gas chambers. Source
  • Around half of all antibiotics sold in the UK are used on farmed animals, with 60% of these being used on pigs. Sources: [1][2]
  • Most pigs are entitled to less than one square metre of space each and the majority of sows (female breeding pigs) are kept in farrowing crates. Farrowing crates were made illegal in several countries across Europe, but are still standard farming practice here in the UK. Source [p.4]

Fish and sea animals

  • Half of all plastic in the sea comes from fishing. Source
  • Three quarters of the world's fisheries are either exploited or depleted. Source
  • We kill between 1 and 2.8 trillion fish every year. This is 143-400x the amount of the entire human population. Source
  • 308,000 cetaceans are unintentionally drowned each year after becoming entangled in fishing equipment. Source
  • Farmed salmon has 10x the amount of cancer-causing organic pollutants than wild salmon. Source
  • For every pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. Source
  • Sharks kill 12 people per year. People kill 11,414 sharks per hour. Source

Chickens and ducks

  • Globally, more than 66 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and eggs. Source
  • Every year in the UK we slaughter around 950 million birds for food consumption, including chickens, ducks and turkeys. Source
  • Over 90% of chicken production in the UK is in intensive windowless sheds which house 20,000-50,000 chickens each. Sources: [1, p.10][2]
  • 51% of eggs produced come from chickens in battery cages. Source
  • 40 million day-old male chicks are killed in the UK by either being gassed or being thrown into a macerator - this practice occurs in all egg farming systems, including organic and free-range. Source
  • Beak trimming is the permanent removal of part of the beak of a bird at a young age. This is standard industry practice in the UK despite being illegal in many European countries due to the pain it inflicts. Source
  • A free-range egg farmer can legally house 16,000 birds in one building, meaning that they can house 9 birds per square metre of space. This means that free-range hens live out their entire lives in an overcrowded indoor farming unit. Source
  • Around 95% of duck production and 90% of turkey production comes from intensive indoor farming. Source

Cows

  • Cows bred for their milk produce up to 10 times more milk than they naturally would. Source
  • Male calves are of no use to the milk industry and are less suitable for industrialised meat production. This means that every year around 95,000 male calves are shot soon after birth and discarded as a by-product. Source
  • Domesticated cows have an average lifespan of 20 years, but on milk farms they are killed after 5-6 years on average. Source
  • 30% of cows bred for milk in the UK have mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder. Source
  • Every year in the UK, 2.6 million cows are slaughtered for human consumption. Source
  • Cows can naturally live for around 20 years, but are sent for slaughter at around 10 - 12 months old. Source
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