factory farming

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Highly intensive rearing of livestock, such as pigs, heifers, turkeys, and chickens, relying on fortified feeds rather than grazing or free-range foraging for food, with emphasis on adding bulk to meat to enhance its price when it is marketed. Factory farming becomes an economic imperative as the need for food increases in an affluent world with exploding urban populations, but it has been associated with several serious disease outbreaks, including localized but dangerous epidemics of E. coli O157:H7 infection attributable to contamination of aquifers and wells by large quantities of animal manure, and possibly with mad cow disease, i.e., bovine spongiform encephalopathy, due to use of contaminated feeds (with subsequent human cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). See also feed lots.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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