Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.

‘For’ or ‘against’ factory, pork, & milk, farms

Do we want cheap milk & pork?  The big factory farms keep the animals inside and recycle much of the waste to make methane and electricity.  But at what cost to animal welfare?

When my two pigs had to be locked in a large stable for 2 days while I repaired my fence they were literally skipping with happiness when I led them back to the field.  If we all saw how our food was produced what would we choose to buy?

Now that we have been separated for our food we must be more vigilant lest we slide in to a GM, Factory farming world. We must support local farmers and listen to lobby groups.

Two such lobby groups in the UK have released a new report attacking so-called “mega-farms” and accusing the UK livestock industry of taking a course that will lead to cruelty to animals and pollution. According to the report, produced by the Soil Association (SA) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) hundreds of UK farmers could be driven out of business if planning permission is granted for mega farms in Britain.

“We know from America that the real cost of food produced in factory farms is poor animal welfare, pollution and the economic death knell for thousands of small scale farmers. That cannot be something we sleepwalk into accepting here. If we do, it’s difficult to see how the British countryside and our traditional rural communities will ever be the same again,” said Simon Pope, WSPA UK Head of External Affairs.

The report comes after the withdrawal of an application to build a 4,000 cow dairy unit in Lincolnshire and a new application to build 2,500 sow unit in the Midlands. The joint press statement from the SA and WSPA claims that the proposed dairy unit would have forced around 50 average sized family dairy farms out of business. Based on government figures, up to 350 of the smallest pig farms could lose all their sales if the pork from the proposed sow unit hit the market.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, went on to say,Developers claim they’re meeting public demand, but it’s wrong to say the British public are demanding that cows must be kept inside throughout the months they are milked, or that 2,500 mother pigs should spend their entire lives shut up inside a factory. These huge factory farms could herald a new phase in the way British farmers keep animals, opening the floodgates to similar developments and changing our farming landscape forever.” 

In my view this is not farming. It is about corporations not farmers. Animals become expendable assets on an accountants spreadsheet with only enough welfare to meet regulatory standards.

I would prefer to see animals reared by professional, caring, enthusiastic, farmers who sell and communicate with local customers who care, ask questions and, in some cases, get involved with production. We live in a green and pleasant land, it can be done and, by cutting out the middle men and retailer, be great value.

To have your say please add your comment below, or use our map to find your local producer, find out how they produce their animals, (most will show you with pride) buy and taste the difference.


  1. Isabel James says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have gradually become vegan in opposition to the “mega-farms” that force in customers’ faces animal products that are produced in cruel, unethical, unhygienic and environmentally devastating ways.

    The way forward is to ditch “quantity” in favour of “quality”. I’ve saved a lot of money by buying fresh vegetables rather than lots of cheap meat, and as a result for special-occasion dinners I can happily afford to pay that little bit more for quality meat raised on small, ethical farms. Besides, treating meat as the special-occasion food it has always, TRADITIONALLY been, makes it taste so much better.

    Another way to enjoy good meat is to eat wild game (and support the farmers behind it). Watched Jamie Oliver on telly today cooking amazing venison and hare dishes; he shot the animals himself on the woodland property. That is food with some integrity.

  2. It is sad that animals are treated like inanimate objects to be milked/slaughtered in order to obtain a food product. It has been claimed by some that the impressions of fear/anger in the minds of the animals when they get slaughtered is, in fact, transferred to the consumer! I don’t know how far this may be true, but if existence is all about energies then this sort of makes sense.

    I, for one, consume only meat from farm-grown animals or opt for Quorn when the former is not available.

    Really glad that you are giving your readers a synopsis of the workings of the meat industry, through your blog.

  3. Darby says:

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