Approximately 3,000 pigs and over 50,000 chickens were locked in small cages or crammed by the thousands into the farms investigated by Animal Equality and Rooney Mara.
We documented animals who had not received adequate veterinary attention and were found in situations of extreme distress and pain.
Over 50,000 birds were kept in one of the barns we visited. The chickens were 46 days old. According to the chicken farm's own records, 1,936 birds died within the first seven weeks of their life, averaging 42 dead birds per day.
Chickens are bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many can't bear the weight of their own bodies and suffer painful leg deformities. Injured and unable to move, many will die from starvation and thirst.
Because of the unnatural growth due to genetic selection, chickens on factory farms can suffer from organ failure or heart attacks and many will die when they are only a few weeks old.
This was the first time Rooney Mara visited a factory farm. "Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to feel, smell and see with my own eyes, when I went undercover on factory farms," Mara said.
After being separated from their mothers, pigs spend six months in fattening pens before being sent to slaughter. They will be locked up and many of them end up attacking other pigs due to stress and frustration.
Mother pigs confined in small crates are unable to turn around or adequately nurse their young. Sometimes they even crush their newly born piglets due to lack of space and inability to move.
"Nothing prepares you for looking into the eyes of a mother pig whose life is to be impregnated and left in a cage until she's slaughtered," said Rooney Mara.
Dozens of weak and dying piglets receive no veterinary attention and die days or even hours after being born. Their mothers are unable to do anything to help them.
"Chickens on factory farms have been genetically selected to produce the most amount of meat possible. The torment they experience because of it is unimaginable," said Sharon Núñez, President of Animal Equality.
Due to the conditions on factory farms, animals often die before they ever reach the slaughterhouse. Nearly 13% of all piglets die within a few weeks of being born, their bodies thrown away like trash.
Leaving animals off your plate will spare them from a lifetime of misery and will help the planet and benefit your health.
Photo: Sammantha Fisher