Animal Protection & Legislation

Farm Animal Welfare

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals works to ensure the humane treatment of animals.  Our compassion reaches beyond the animals we live with in our homes, to animals that live in the wild, in a laboratory, or are used for food. 

The MSPCA believes that farm animals are creatures of intrinsic value, complexity and dignity. The MSPCA further believes that the billions of animals raised each year in the United States for food, clothing, and other products are entitled to live their lives free of unnecessary pain, suffering and stress, and to have a humane death. To learn more about the MSPCA's position on the humane treatment of farm animals, read our statement of belief. The MSPCA also operates Nevins Farm, an Animal Care and Adoption Center, located in Methuen Massachusetts, which provides refuge for all types of farm animals.

Chicken Pig Cow
Turkey Salmon Ducks
Click on the Picture of an Animal Above to Learn More about Farm Animals in their Natural Settings

Factory Farming

More and more consumers are becoming aware and increasingly concerned with how farm animals are treated. Industrial type farm settings, commonly referred to as factory farms, have replaced traditional, more natural farm settings in order to produce the highest output at the lowest cost. While the MSPCA recognizes the need to find economic and efficient means of raising livestock, the Society opposes those practices--such as intensive confinement systems--which cause needless pain, suffering and stress to the animals involved.   

"Factory farms" are characterized by the use of crates and cages that either totally isolate individual animals from others of their species or crowd many animals together in order to save space and increase handling efficiency. Factory farms are also characterized by the manipulation of diet in ways that interfere with the animal's good health, handling animals in stressful or injurious ways, surgeries performed without appropriate use of anesthesia, surgeries performed on animals solely to prevent injuries resulting from confinement-induced stress, and selective breeding practices which produce characteristics that increase animal suffering.  Factory farm practices also use an alarming number of antibiotics in order to keep animals alive and producing under unhealthy, stressful conditions. The MSPCA believes that good animal husbandry should be based on humane stewardship of livestock. 

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, released a 2 1/2 year analysis-based report Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America that calls for major changes in the way factory farms produce milk, eggs and meat. Three of the Commission's key recommendations are:     

  • Banning non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production, 
  • Phasing out the most intensive and inhumane production practices  (i.e., gestation crates and battery cages), and 
  • Replacing the broken farm waste system that we have today.

Read what The Washington Post and has to say about this important report.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) "Eating our Future: The Environmental Impact of Industrial Animal Agriculture" report shows how factory farming not only causes the suffering of billions of animals, but is also a major contributor to climate change, scarcity of resources, and global problems such as poverty and disease. The report recommends a reduction in meat consumption and a move toward smaller-scale sustainable and humane food production methods.  

Time Magazine published an article entitled Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food, which addresses human health, environmental issues, subsidies, concentrated animal feeding operations, the use of antibiotics on farm animals in intense confinement, and other problems with our current system of food production; it also suggests alternatives that are better for people, animals, and the environment.

How You Can Help 

Incorporate the three R's into your life:
More and more producers are raising animals in a more natural setting, allowing animals fresh air and more room to perform natural behaviors. Refining your diet by choosing products from humanely raised animals instead of conventional products from intensive farm operations helps ensure animals live a better life. Click here for information on where to find animal products from farms that have higher standards of care for animals. Read an article in the Boston Globeon the growing trend of obtaining food from local farms.

Grocery stores now have a large assortment of delicious products to replace those traditionally obtained from animals who are intensively confined. These vegetarian alternatives include veggie burgers, soymilk, tofu, tempeh and even fake chicken fingers and sandwich meat. You can find many of these items in the freezer section of your local grocery store. 

If we reduce the consumption of animal products by just one meal a week, approximately one billion animals would be spared the suffering that occurs with intensive confinement operations. Check out animal-free recipes available on the internet and try starting a Meatless Monday policy in your household today.

Find food rasied under certain standards:
Find out about programs that set standards for the care of farm animals raised for food and require inspections by third-parties to ensure these standards are being met.  Find out where to buy these products here.
Support legislative action:

According to The U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 10 billion land animals are slaughtered each year for their meat, eggs and milk (this number does not include fish consumption). No federal laws protect farm animals from cruelty and most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statutes.

Some progress has been made to outlaw three types of housing systems in factory farming - veal crates for male dairy calves, gestation crates that house pigs, and battery cages that house hens used for egg production.  There is a bill pending in Massachusetts that would prohibit intense confinement of farm animals.

Join our Animal Action Team.

Learn about farm animals at the MSPCA:
Click here to learn more about Nevins Farm Animal Care and Adoption Center.