Sentience Institute US Factory Farming Estimates
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US Factory Farming Estimates (Animals Alive at Present)
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These estimates use the 2012 Census of Agriculture and EPA definitions of CAFOs to estimate the number of US farmed land vertebrates who are in CAFOs ("factory farms"). Note that 2017 Census results are expected around April 11, 2019, at which time this spreadsheet will be updated accordingly.
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Last updated: 02/18/2019
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USDA DataPercentile calculationsTotal % factory farmed
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Sales, Table 32Meat chickensCutoff ('Cutoff Calculations')9,375Meat chicken calculationsThese estimates use the number of animals per farm as the best available proxy for whether the farm is a CAFO with the following premises: (1) All Large sized farms are CAFOs, (2) all Medium sized farms are CAFOs, and (3) for birds, the largest three quarters of Small sized farms are CAFOs, (4) for mammals, the largest half of Small sized farms are CAFOs, and (5) farms are evenly distributed among sizes within each range.
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Animals per farmTotal farmsTotal animalsCumulativeCumulative %Farms larger than cutoff range99.952%
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1 to 199916,5141,818,0298,463,194,794100.000%
Farms larger than and including cutoff range
99.979%
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2000 to 159994572,274,3098,461,376,76599.979%Percentile of cutoff in farm size range52.682%
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16000 to 29999821,759,1008,459,102,45699.952%% of animals above cutoff99.964%
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30000 to 599991757,627,1308,457,343,35699.931%
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60000 to 9999937329,357,4298,449,716,22699.841%Best Guess
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100000 to 1999991,810273,093,5378,420,358,79799.494%Meat chickens99.964%
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200000 to 2999992,577631,801,7128,147,265,26096.267%Egg chickens98.512%
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300000 to 4999994,6151,744,451,0767,515,463,54888.802%Turkeys99.857%
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500000 or more6,3325,771,012,4725,771,012,47268.190%Pigs97.627%
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Total sales8,463,194,794Cows69.063%
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Total inventory32,9351,502,276,846Total land98.450%
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Total land + fish98.742%
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Inventory, Table 32Egg-laying hensCutoff ('Cutoff Calculations')2,250Egg-laying hen calculations
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Animals per farmTotal farmsTotal animalsCumulativeCumulative %Farms larger than cutoff range98.412%Fish Estimates
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1 to 49174,2112,725,732350,715,978100.000%
Farms larger than and including cutoff range
98.707%We lack US census data for fish farm size, but consensus in the field seems to be that virtually all fish farms are factory farms in terms of confinement, disease, and other relevant metrics.
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50 to 9913,074810,819347,990,24699.223%Percentile of cutoff in farm size range66.095%
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100 to 3996,268998,790347,179,42798.992%% of animals above cutoff98.512%
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400 to 31991,1031,033,178346,180,63798.707%
US fish (see sheet "Fish Estimates"):
532,510,706
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3200 to 99994823,599,091345,147,45998.412%
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10000 to 199991,19917,957,784341,548,36897.386%Confirmatory Calculation
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20000 to 499991,29236,270,491323,590,58492.266%% total farms accounted for:14.97%
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50000 to 9999925618,067,593287,320,09381.924%
EPA 2012: 'CAFOs make up approximately 15 percent of total AFOs'
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100000 or more387269,252,500269,252,50076.772%This only weakly confirms our choice of cutoffs, which assume all farms above a certain size (per species) are CAFOs, while in reality some non-CAFO farms will be larger than some CAFO farms.
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Total inventory198,272350,715,978
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Sales, Table 32TurkeysCutoff ('Cutoff Calculations')4,125Turkey calculations
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Animals per farmTotal farmsTotal animalsCumulativeCumulative %Farms larger than cutoff range99.772%Citations
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1 to 19997,237275,382286,030,261100.000%
Farms larger than and including cutoff range
99.904%2012 Census of Agriculture
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2000 to 799980376,577285,754,87999.904%Percentile of cutoff in farm size range35.423%EPA CAFO definitions
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8000 to 159991021,246,107285,378,30299.772%% of animals above cutoff99.857%
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16000 to 299992024,598,901284,132,19599.336%Notes
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30000 to 5999961727,274,512279,533,29497.729%This is a rough estimate based on the data we have available. We could not find any data on % of Small and Medium sized farms that meet the EPA criteria for CAFOs, so we took our best guess and hope to update it with hard evidence in the future.
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60000 to 9999960645,428,208252,258,78288.193%
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100000 or more833206,830,574206,830,57472.311%
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Total inventory9,677286,030,261Note that a CAFO as defined by the EPA and what the public would regard as a "factory farm" are not necessarily the same. For instance, a farm with 37,500 chickens or 3,000 pigs is only considered a CAFO if it meets certain conditions regarding surface water pollution, but farms of these sizes that don't meet these conditions could still house animals in ways that would be publicly regarded as crowded "factory" conditions.
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Inventory, Table 21PigsCutoff ('Cutoff Calculations')563Pig calculations
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Animals per farmTotal farmsTotal animalsCumulativeCumulative %Farms larger than cutoff range95.792%
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1 to 2441,688244,25066,026,785100.000%
Farms larger than and including cutoff range
97.890%
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25 to 493,435116,80865,782,53599.630%Percentile of cutoff in farm size range12.525%There will be another Census of Agriculture for 2017, which will likely be published in the spring of 2019. We will update these estimates when it is available, and may add more nuance to our methodology at that time.
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50 to 992,161146,96765,665,72799.453%% of animals above cutoff97.627%
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100 to 1991,469201,46065,518,76099.231%
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200 to 4992,115683,97765,317,30098.925%Sales figures are used for meat chicken animals per farm because the 2012 Census lacks meat chicken inventory by farm size. We still use the total inventory figure in the estimate of total % factory farmed.
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500 to 9991,9771,384,92164,633,32397.890%
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1000 to 19992,6773,662,16863,248,40295.792%
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2000 to 49994,71814,867,19959,586,23490.246%All pigs are assumed to be over 55 pounds, for the purpose of using the EPA definitions of CAFOs.
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5000 or more3,00644,719,03544,719,03567.729%
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Total inventory63,24666,026,785Fish refers to finfish, not finfish and shellfish.
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Cutoff ('Cutoff Calculations') (beef/veal)
225
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CowsCutoff ('Cutoff Calculations') (dairy)150
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Inventory, Table 14Cutoff (average)188Cow calculations
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Animals per farmTotal farmsTotal animalsCumulativeCumulative %Farms larger than cutoff range67.714%
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1 to 9243,0711,179,62589,994,614100.000%
Farms larger than and including cutoff range
79.332%
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10 to 19171,6752,350,56588,814,98998.689%Percentile of cutoff in farm size range88.384%
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20 to 49222,5476,907,69686,464,42496.077%% of animals above cutoff69.063%
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50 to 99118,3948,161,88279,556,72888.402%
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100 to 19976,72910,456,31071,394,84679.332%
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200 to 49952,87815,851,26860,938,53667.714%
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500 to 99917,43711,881,86245,087,26850.100%
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1000 to 24997,58211,058,59533,205,40636.897%
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2500 to 49991,8096,121,37022,146,81124.609%
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5000 or more1,12416,025,44116,025,44117.807%
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Total inventory913,24689,994,614
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