Title: Factory Farming
Author: Andrew Johnson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 274
The first thing to mention is that I read this book as part of the research for a new novel that I’m writing called Meat. Meat is set on a factory farm, and so I picked up this book as one of the half-dozen or so most well-reviewed non-fiction books I could find about factory farming and its effects.
There were two main problems with this book. The first was that it was perhaps overly technical, which caused by eyes to glaze over from time to time and which stopped me from absorbing as much of the information as I potentially could have. The author has a very dry writing style which conveys a lot of facts but which doesn’t really bring them to life. The other problem was that by now, it’s quite a few years out of date. I haven’t checked the publication year, but from the legislation that it covers I’d guess it was written in 1989 or so, around the time I was born.
Still, I did learn some fascinating stuff, predominantly around the different tests that have been carried out on the capacity of animals to feel pain. There was one test that found that cows would rather brave the cold at -20C to sleep on straw rather than sleeping in the warm on a metal grid, and another that found that chickens get so bored that given the choice between completing a task (such as pecking a target) for food and simply being given it, they’d rather work for it.