Unveiled: The Farmed Animals of the Research Industry

The Rise for Animals Team, December 13, 2023

In an often overlooked corner of the animal use industry, a quiet connection binds the fate of farmed animals to the disconcerting realities of agricultural and biomedical research.

Today, we shine a light on this dark alliance, revealing the unsung victims of a cycle of suffering fueled by our tax dollars. It’s needless cruelty that must cease, and you have the power to make a difference. 

Donate Now

Sheep are held in an enclosure with a filthy feeding area (left) that offers severely contaminated drinking water (right). (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)
A pig’s face, ears, neck, and back are covered in scratches, some of them bleeding raw. (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)

The photos you see on this page are just a small sampling of issues documented by research facility inspectors. They illustrate the abhorrent conditions many of these farmed animals are forced to endure. You can see contaminated water, untended injuries like wounded legs and burned flesh, lack of shade from the sun, piles of trash, filthy and flooded enclosures… And these disgusting situations don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what happens to these animals when researchers subject them to their experiments.

An enclosure holding cows displays another example of contaminated drinking water (left) and general, widespread filth. (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)

Farmed Animals in Research: A Little-Known Story

When you think of animal research, thoughts of mice or nonhuman primates may come to mind, but the industry’s victims are far more extensive. Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, chickens, and others — all exploited by the billions each year for food, clothing, and entertainment purposes — also endure brutal exploitation, harm, and sacrifice in the name of research.

Goats are documented with untended injuries, like a wounded front leg (left) and a puncture to the torso (right). (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)
Sheep are held in an enclosure with a filthy feeding area (left) that offers severely contaminated drinking water (right). (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)

Farmed Animals in Agriculture-Related Research

Approximately $1.5 billion taxpayer and private dollars annually support the animal agricultural industry’s relentless efforts to maximize profits. They achieve this by optimizing production efficiency through genetic selection, growth-promoting drugs, antibiotics, and more. The consequences are devastating:

  • Pigs are subjected to surgeries and breeding techniques that lead to high mortality rates among their piglets.
  • Cows face unnatural pregnancies, birthing struggles, and high rates of calf mortality.
  • Pregnant ewes endure hormonal injections for larger lambs, resulting in genital deformities and solitary births in fields where their offspring face dire conditions.

And consider this shocking, unfortunate fact: Non-human animals used for agriculture-related research have no protections under existing animal welfare laws. 

Sheep are unable to escape the blaring sun due to an inadequate structure that is intended to provide shade. (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)
Unshoveled fecal matter contaminates the floor of a goat enclosure. (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)
A pile of rubbish sits within a research facility. (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)

Farmed Animals in Biomedical Research

While farmed animals used for biomedical research receive (minimal) protections under the Animal Welfare Act, their exploitation is no less severe. Recent figures reported by U.S. researchers show that around 10% of over 1.4+ million non-human animal research subjects are farmed animals. 

A pig is documented with burns that have caused her flesh to peel from her back (left), and a cow is noted to be infested with flies on her ankles (right). (Photo: APHIS, obtained by Rise for Animals)

The next time you envision a research laboratory — and you imagine looking into a dark cage, into the eyes of a scared, suffering, sentient being who deserves liberation — perhaps the eyes looking back at you will be porcine, bovine, or equine. 

You can be their hope now. 

Make a donation to help reshape the research industry. Your support will help to expose the hidden horrors of animal research, enact life-saving laws and policies, free animals from labs, and modernize science to benefit more people than ever without harming animals. 

Make a Donation