While federal law has proven largely ineffective at regulating abuse and neglect on factory farms, some state laws have been interpreted to allow for the prosecution of farmed animal abusers. Though most state laws exempt factory-farmed animals from their cruelty statutes, some state laws have been successfully used to prosecute those who abuse and neglect farmed animals. The following cases are examples of farmed animal abusers being brought to justice under state animal cruelty laws.
Factory farms are designed to be low cost with maximum output. The result is often hundreds of thousands of animals confined to dark, cramped, poorly ventilated areas. Without access to fresh air, sunlight, or grass while being held in close proximity to other animals, these animals often develop health issues as well as physical and mental problems. Employees are often overworked and under trained, resulting in mishandling and mistreatment of the animals. It is common practice for male chicks to be ground alive or suffocated in the egg-laying industry due to their inability to lay eggs. In the hog-farming industry, baby pigs are castrated, their tails are docked, and their tusks are clipped without any pain killers. Female cows in the dairy industry are forcibly impregnated, and male calves are taken from their mothers, often at birth, to be fattened and slaughtered for veal. Standard industry practices such as these are accepted and even protected under the law.