An increasing number of the facilities are opening up across the nation, according to a July 2017 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which showed that at the time of publication, almost 800 US-style mega-farms were in operation. A megafarm will house at least 125,000 chickens, 82,000 hens, 2,500 pigs, or 1,000 cows.
These largest of these facilities house staggering numbers - with more than 20,000 pigs or 2,000 dairy cows confined within their walls. When it comes to chickens, the numbers are even more shocking, with the Bureau reporting that the two largest factory farms have the capacity to house 1.7 million and 1.4 million birds respectively.
An NFU spokesperson told Plant Based News that the size of a farm doesn't impact animal welfare. "Using sheds or indoor housing is vital to many farming systems within the UK," he said. "This ensures farmers can maintain the highest possible welfare of their livestock, by protecting them from the extremes of our climate.
"The inclement weather we experience in winter also means that grazing is difficult – both because of the lack of grass growth and the risk of damaging the land. Cattle are also sometimes housed inside in order to protect them from diseases and to monitor how much they are eating and drinking.
"But no matter how big or small a farm is, health and welfare is of paramount importance to British farmers who care passionately for their animals."
Footage captured by Millon Dollar Vegan
Factory farming in the UK
But Million Dollar Vegan CEO Matt Glover told Plant Based News that the facilities 'cram animals in' and 'leave them to suffer.
"There is a common misconception, particularly in the UK, that factory farms only exist in America or other countries," he added. "Sadly that's not the case, and we are seeing an unprecedented increase in megafarms throughout Britain – where thousands upon thousands of animals are crammed into sheds and left to suffer, hidden from view.
"There has been a 26 percent increase in these farms appearing across our countryside in the past six years, yet more and more scientific evidence is linking animal agriculture as one of the leading causes of climate change.
“We must act now to prevent these farms from continuing if we want to see a future for our planet, and to minimize animal suffering. Animal farming is unsustainable, and it is imperative we all look towards adopting a plant-based diet in order to solve these issues."
Million Dollar Vegan has created a free vegan starter kit for people who want to try vegan for Lent.