What is the most farmed animal?

The world’s largest user of agricultural land is livestock production (1) and the approximate figures for the most widely farmed species are: 1 billion pigs, 1.7 billion cattle and buffalo, 2.2 billion sheep and goats, and 20 billion chickens (2). In order to feed the 7.4 billion people living in the world today (projected to reach 11.2 billion in 2100 (3)), humans farm animals to provide food and animal products and to prepare for a transition in dietary preference to one in which higher amounts of meat and milk products are eaten.

Although humans have been farming animals for a very long time (over 10,000 years), there is still a lot to learn about the needs of farmed animals, and how best to build realistic and economic environments and production systems that not only mitigate the challenges of health, but also provide a good quality of life. UFAW advocates the ideals of the ‘Five Liberties’ for all sentient animals.

While substantial progress has been made over the past few decades in improving the welfare of farm animals (such as better quality veterinary care, improved nutrition, and a greater understanding of animal behaviour and genetics), there are still some long-standing welfare problems facing today’s farm animals that have proven difficult to deal with.

The following examples have been chosen to illustrate a variety of welfare problems that currently impact several million animals every day in order to provide a greater insight into the lives of farm animals (and to demonstrate why it is so important to support animal welfare research and to disseminate important findings:

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