What is CAFO?
CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and it refers to a farming system that involves raising numerous animals in a relatively small space. From the term “concentrated”, a large number of animals is involved and subjected to a limited space. This concept of farming is said to be more efficient and cost-effective for the farm owners. Common animals that are raised through the CAFO system include pigs, chickens, and veal calves.
A typical CAFO involves a small land area intended for growing farm animals, along with the space for feeding and dumping of wastes like urine and manure. Most CAFO farms have buildings or structures that help confine the animals to a very limited space. Feeds for the animals are usually brought to them in their specific areas or cages, instead of having them eat at a particular part of a grazing field. Some CAFOs also have automated feeding systems where food may come out of different tubes and containers on the different cages. And since a large number of animals are confined to a limited space, much of the waste materials like urine and feces are also concentrated on the farming area. Most farms have sewage lagoons or small landfills to handle this concern.
Many people though do not approve of the CAFO system when it comes to raising farm animals. Some animal activists believe that CAFO system imposes cruelty on animals as they are subjected to a very limited space. Many also argue that the feeding programs and techniques involved in this farming system are not adequate to supply the nutritional needs of the farm animals. With automated feeding systems, the animals are fed with only generic food items which do not meet up with nutritional standards. Some also argue about the sanitation practices of CAFO farms, since the animals are living in confined spaces. Many of these animals are said to acquire illnesses easily because of inadequate nutrition on feeds and because of poor sanitation.
But despite major concerns on the operation standards of CAFO farms, many still continue to implement this farming system because of lower cost and higher yield. For CAFO supporters, what matters is that they believe that the animals are treated well and that the system works more efficiently and economically.