Factory farming became popular in the 1920’s, soon after the discovery of Vitamins A and D. Once it was realized that you could add the vitamins to feed and that the animals no longer required exercise, it became a popular means of raising livestock.
The development of industrial agriculture went hand in hand with the Industrial Revolution in the 1920s. This is when chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus began to be used in fertilizers. Antibiotics, vaccines, and pesticides also led to the rise of industrial agriculture when they were used in WWII. The newly discovered vaccines and antibiotics allowed for the livestock to grow bigger, thus more profitable by enabling them to resist disease and infection. Farmers began adopting assembly line principles and abandoning the slower, less efficient method of traditional farming. Food was more readily available, and for a cheaper price after the 1920s.
This form of agriculture is extremely harmful to the environment. The care for animals and crops has now been turned over to a handful of corporations that reign over the vast majority of food production. Farmers have been marginalized and forced to adopt this “profit over all else” attitude if they want to survive. Cows, pigs, chickens and the like are crammed into tiny pens where they are pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones that make them grow at an unnatural rate. Chickens are now becoming so large that they can only walk a few steps before having to sit down because their internal organs and skeletons are not developing to meet the rate of their meat growth. I would highly recommend watching the documentary Food Inc. to learn about the horrors of industrial agriculture. http://www.foodincmovie.com/
Chicken farming today:
What chicken farming used to be like (pre-industrial):
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