Over 60 billion land-dwelling animals are killed each year. The overwhelming majority of these animals are raised in factory farms, where conditions can involve "intense confinement, inhibition of natural behaviors, untreated health issues, and numerous other causes of suffering".[1] Although it is difficult to quantify farmed animal welfare, a variety of considerations suggest that the lives of many of these animals are net-negative.[2][3]

There are a number of promising ways to improve farmed animal welfare.[4] One approach is reduce the number of farm animals, by persuading the public to reduce consumption of animal products or by facilitating the development of animal product alternatives.[5] Another approach is to reduce the suffering farm animals experience, by improving the conditions under which these animals live. Open Philanthropy estimates that corporate cage-free campaigns have spared about 250 hens a year of confinement in a cage per each dollar spent. They also claim that the cost-effectiveness of these campaigns is higher than any of the other approaches they have investigated.[6]

Further reading

MacAskill, William & Darius Meissner (2020) Cause prioritization: Farm animal welfare, in 'Acting on utilitarianism', Utilitarianism....

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