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New interactive map exposes UK factory farming hotspots

A brand new, interactive ‘Factory Farming Map’, launched today (17th July), illustrates the shockingly high numbers of livestock reared indoors across the UK.

Whilst it is sometimes claimed that the UK has the highest standards in animal welfare world-wide, around 70% of farm animals are kept in factory farms per year. They spend their lives in barren barns or cages, suffering from overcrowding, often lacking access to fresh air and natural daylight.

The map, produced by Compassion in World Farming shows ‘hotspots’ in counties where large numbers of animals are reared indoors and demonstrates how factory farming has spread across the country.

British farmers are under growing pressure to use more intensive methods to produce huge quantities of cheap meat, dairy, and eggs. But this comes at a great cost for animal welfare, for human health, and for the environment.

The interactive map displays the number of dairy cows, laying hens, broiler chickens and pigs estimated to be permanently housed indoors in the UK, as well as overall indoor reared livestock per region. Shockingly, many counties associated with vast, green pastures and extensive grazing are in fact some the areas with the highest numbers of indoor-reared farm animals. 

Herefordshire, Shropshire and Norfolk, ranked first, second and third respectively with North Yorkshire and Somerset also making the top ten.

Cumulatively the figure for the top three counties alone stands at almost 44 million animals confined indoors without access to natural daylight, fresh air or ability to display their natural behaviours.

These results indicate a worrying trend in the growth of intensive agriculture in rural areas to produce cheap meat, dairy and eggs.

Emma Slawinski, Compassion in World Farming’s Director of Campaigns said:

“With around 70% of farm animals in the UK kept in factory farms, this is a practice we should be moving away from, not towards. Animals are not simply commodities, whose sole purpose is production.

“The huge implications on animal welfare, human health and our environment cannot be ignored. There is a better way. By choosing cage-free, free range and organic produce you are providing farm animals with the opportunity to live a full life, able to move freely and display their natural behaviours.

“The end of factory farming will benefit the animals, us and our planet.”

You can help to wipe factory farming off the map by writing to your MP and telling them to support a new vision for farming.


Notes to Editors

The data:

Top ten regions with the highest number of livestock reared indoors: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, County Tyrone, North Yorkshire, Suffolk, County Antrim, Somerset and Gloucestershire.

The map of was created through a comprehensive data search of poultry, dairy, and pig farms in the United Kingdom using a combination of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, planning documents, industry publications, feed company literature, equipment suppliers, farm websites, on-location verification and other sources.

The colour scheme reflects the 2016 distribution of number of livestock by type and by county, broken down into five equal parts.

Some indoor-only farms will keep animals in better conditions, and the available data does not allow for these farms to be separately identified and excluded. For this reason we have produced our map as an indicative heat-map. However, the majority of animals in indoor systems will suffer from cramped and barren conditions.

We were not able to obtain data on farms for some counties, due to the fact that they were not made available by the local authorities or found in publications. This does not mean that intensive farming does not take place in those counties but simply that the information is not available. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update the map if the relevant local authorities provide us with the relevant data.

Chickens - Type of system included: permanent indoor housing in barns and cages.

Pigs - Type of system included: permanent indoor housing in some or all production stages (rearing/growing/weaning).

Dairy Cows - Type of system included: those where some or all of the herd are housed indoors year round.

For further information or to interview a spokesperson please contact: Telsha Arora, Media Officer on 01483 521 890 or email