Chickens in transport to a factory farm.

Farmed Animals Suffer Immensely in Transport. Extreme Weather Makes It Even Worse.



During extreme cold snaps or heat waves, farmed animals in transport endure trauma and pain without any protection from the elements.

You may have seen them: the enormous, stark transport trucks filled with cows, pigs, or chickens barreling down the highway. Sadly, those animals are likely headed to their final destination of a painful slaughter in order for their flesh to be sold in supermarkets across the country.

Farmed animals can be confined to these trucks for up to 28 consecutive hours at a time, according to federal transport laws. If their journey is more than 28 hours, the animals must be unloaded for rest, food, and water unless an extension is requested (up to 36 hours). An exception for sheep allows them to be kept in transport trucks for an additional eight hours “without being unloaded when the 28-hour period of confinement ends at night.”

Tragically, the 28-Hour Law can be easily violated as it’s difficult to enforce, drivers are not required to provide duration, mileage, or stops on their journey, and these transports are rarely inspected for violations of the 28-Hour Law.

Cows on a transport truck to a factory farm.

According to The Guardian, approximately 20 million chickens, 330,000 pigs, and 166,000 cows are dead by the time they reach US slaughterhouses, with an estimated 800,000 pigs unable to walk on arrival. This statistic is staggering but is seen as the cost of doing business in the world of factory farming. Veterinarians have stated the main causes of death are trauma and extreme temperatures during transport—heat stress during the summer months and freezing temperatures during the winter.

Transport trucks are made to maximize profits and the number of animals transported at once. They do not contain any bedding or any comforts farmed animals deserve. On a “good” day, the trucks are crammed with animals who can barely move, unable to comfortably lay down or relax, standing in their own feces and urine for the grueling journey. Sometimes, the trucks are packed so tightly that the animals endure deep lacerations on the metal cutouts provided for air as others push them for space.

During extreme temperatures, the metal trucks can become death traps for cows and pigs. Exposed to the elements, farmed animals endure below-freezing temperatures, snow, rain, and frigid wind during the winter season. Pigs and cows in these trucks have been known to freeze to the floors or the sides of truck beds, often having their skin ripped from their bodies upon reaching the slaughterhouse (if they make it there alive).  

In the heat of the summer, temperatures inside the trucks can reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with many animals suffering heat stress and heart attacks.

Chickens in a transport truck to a factory farm.

Chickens on transport trucks endure similar torture during these journeys. Unlike the metal trucks cows and pigs are transported in, chickens are often stacked in plastic crates on long truck beds—completely exposed to the elements. They are unable to stand, spread their wings, or lay down comfortably for the entirety of the transport, with the highway winds whipping their small, frail bodies, snow or rain pouring down, or the sun burning their skin. 

Current laws in the United States do not protect farmed animals, and there are no federal laws that protect farmed animals during their lives on factory farms. From birth to slaughter, a farmed animal’s life is filled with misery, torture, and cruelty.

That’s why World Animal Protection is working with lawmakers to end factory farming through legislation and urging others to eliminate or reduce their consumption of animal products.

Take action today for farmed animals and urge your legislators to ban factory farming in the United States.

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