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The Biggest Animal Welfare Success of the Past 6 Years, in One Chart

Factory farming is spreading, but some of its worst practices are on their way out.

If you research farm animal welfare for long enough, you begin to exist in a strange, paradoxical state: Everything is both getting better and worse at the same time.

Worse, because the cruel factory farming model largely invented in the United States has been exported around the world, which in turn has rapidly increased the number of factory-farmed animals. From 1988 to 2018 — or about the last 30 years — global meat production has increased by 100 percent, while the human population has only grown by about 50 percent.

But things are better, too, because some of the worst factory farming practices are on their way out. 

One of those practices is the use of “battery cages” in the egg industry, cages so small that hens can’t even spread their wings. Since the 1960s, egg farmers in the US have predominantly used these cages — but that’s starting to change.