03 Factory Farming

A must read for meat eaters who care about animals or have pets of their own.

Factory farming is the practice of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density. The farm operates in a similar way to a factory. The main product of this industry is meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. Factory farming is the predominant farming method in Australia.

The average age of slaughter of farmed animals vs their natural lifespan

The table below outlines the average age of animals at slaughter in Australia. It should also be noted that organic and free range animals are often still slaughtered in the same way as factory farmed animals.

While learning about the environmental and animal welfare implications of eating meat, please also consider the Average Age at Slaughter table.

The facts average age at slaughter average natural lifespan
cattle9 12-18 months 20-25 years
dairy cows10 3-5 years 20-25 years
bobby calves*
/ baby veal
1-2 weeks11 20-25 years12
veal (calf) 4-6 months13 20-25 years14
lamb 3-10 months15
(young lamb is often advertised as spring lamb)
15 years16
broiler chickens conventional: 35-49 days17
organic: 63-80 days18
7 years19
egg laying chickens20 18 months 8-12 years
pigs 4-6 months21 10-12 years22
suckling pigs 2-6 weeks 10-12 years

* The term 'bobby calves'means newborn calves that are less than two weeks old and not with their mothers. They are largely a by-product of the dairy industry, which must impregnate their cows each year in order for them to continue to produce milk. Products from processed calves include young veal for human consumption, and valuable hides for leather. Each year, this is the fate of around 900,000 bobby calves in Australia.23