Practical Issues > Factory Farms > Farming - Index
USDA's official number of animals killed for food
Update to numbers in article: the USDA slaughter stats, but at the end of the article are more thorough numbers: animal killed for Americans' food. This number includes animals that die for reasons other than slaughter (like layer hens and discarded male layer chicks, most of which are not slaughtered), and in also includes animals killed abroad whose meat is imported to the US. Most of all, it includes sea animals, which the USDA numbers don't include, but which add a lot.
USDA slaughter stats 2008
Animals used for food production account for 97% of all animals killed in US slaughterhouses, labs, pounds, and open spaces. Although they are capable of experiencing most feelings that we and our beloved companion animals do, farmed animals are view and treated by the meat, dairy, and egg industries as mere tools of production.
The number of animals killed in the US reached a new record in 2000, and the number is expected to continue rising, according to the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Survey (NASS). The overall rise was driven by a massive switch to consumption of chicken flesh. Moreover, one in ten farm animals died of stress induced disease or injury before slaughter. None of these figures include fish, which are not counted by any government agency.
According to NASS reports and expert interviews, 8,792,000,000 "broiler" chickens and 492,700,000 "layer" hens were killed for food in 2000, as well as 304,000,000 turkeys and 26,100,000 ducks, for a total of 9,551,000,000 birds, and is expected to continue to rise.
Among mammals 41,700,000 cows and calves were killed for food in 2000, as well as 115,200,000 pigs and 4,300,000 sheep, for a total of 161,200,000. These stats are also expected to continue to rise.
Thus, the total number of all animals killed for food in 2000 was 9.7 billion.
In more personal terms, the average American meat-eating man, woman, and child subsidize the abuse and slaughter of over 37 animals per year. It's much more if they eat sea dwelling animals). That's 2,800 animals in a 75-year lifetime. This number includes 2,630 chickens and ducks, 123 turkeys, 32 pigs, 13 cows and calves, and 2 sheep. None of these figures include fish, lobster, crab, or other aquatic animals.
One dirty little secret of today's agribusiness industry is that 857,000,000 or nearly 8.8 perfect of the total, suffered lingering deaths from disease, malnutrition, injury, or suffocation, associated with today's factory farming practices.
In addition, 212,000,000 male "layer" chicks were discarded shortly after birth, since males can not lay eggs and are not of the right genetic breeding to be valuable for meat production. Usually the male chicks are ground up alive or discarded to suffocate to death in plastic garbage bags. Investigators have even found live chicks that have been dumped directly into hatchery dumpsters.
* Eliminate meat, dairy, and eggs from your diet.
* Action For Animals
Average and Total
Numbers of Animals
Steers and Calves
ALL LAND ANIMALS
ALL SEA ANIMALS
* Note: Totals may not add up because of independent rounding.
The average meat-eater in 2008 ate
12 fewer animals than in 2007 (including 1.4 fewer land animals and 0.7
fewer fish), and 36 fewer than in 2006 (including 1.7 fewer land animals and
2.4 fewer fish). That�s 3 billion fewer animals killed to feed Americans in
2008 than in 2007, and about 9 billion fewer than in 2006, a three percent
and ten percent decrease respectively. That includes more than 300 million
fewer land animals in 2008 than in 2007 or 2006, a four percent decrease.
This decrease was consistent across categories, though greatest for cattle
and for chickens raised for meat; only egg-laying hens saw an increase in
Total Number Died to Feed Americans
(millions of animals)
Average Number of Animals Consumed Per
American Meat Eater