Animals raised on pasture enjoy a much higher quality of life than those confined within factory farms. When raised on open pasture, animals are able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This lifestyle is impossible to achieve on industrial farms, where thousands of animals are crowded into confined facilities, often without access to fresh air or sunlight. These stressful conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria and the animals frequently become ill, so factory farms must routinely treat them with antibiotics to prevent outbreaks of disease.
Grazing on pasture is especially beneficial for cattle and other ruminants, whose bodies are developed to eat grass. The roughage provided by grasses and other plants allows ruminants to produce saliva, which helps neutralize acids that exist naturally in their digestive systems. When taken off pasture and put on a diet of grain, a ruminant will produce less saliva, causing an increase in acidity within its digestive tract. As a result, grain-fed cattle often suffer from a number of health problems including intestinal damage, dehydration, liver abscesses and even death. Despite the fact that grain diets can sicken cattle and other ruminants, factory farms feed these animals grain (usually corn or soybeans) because it’s a cheap way to fatten animals and force them to grow to market weight as quickly as possible.
Pasture-raised animals also enjoy a diet free of the unnatural feed additives routinely administered on factory farms. Industrial farms frequently supplement animal feed with a range of byproducts including chicken manure, plate waste from restaurants, and animal blood in order to bolster the quantity and protein content of the feed. Antibiotics and artificial hormones also added to promote rapid growth. On pasture, animals get all the nutrients they need from grass and forage (other plants), and some animals, like chickens, get additional vitamins and protein from eating insects.