An investigation into the human – animal relationship
On this website we publish videos and pictures of the animal agriculture in Finland. Essentially these images depict the relationship between humans and animals.
You can browse the images and videos by selecting individual farms from the "kuvat & videot" link in the main menu.
The images on this site can be understood as a study. The aim of this study is to answer the question: Should we seriously reconsider the way we see and treat animals?
We hope that the reader will explore the material published here and contemplate this question open-mindedly. What these images portray has to do with a very central part of our society. A large part of the population consumes the products of this industry. Therefore this question is very important to our society.
This is not the first time that similar images from Finnish animal agriculture have been made public. Websites like tehotuotanto.net, tarhauskielto.fi, and sikatehtaat.fi have shown the public how animals are treated on pig farms, egg and chicken farms and fur farms. Politicians and officials have assured us that the defects in these industries will be dealt with, but there have been no improvements.
This is why we claim this: What happens in animal agriculture cannot be fixed by addressing individual issues on specific industries or by increasing control. The problem lies deeper.
This is a question of how our society sees animals, what we believe the animals to be like – in other words, a question of our concept of animals.
Animals as machines
The understanding of animals in modern agriculture is in line with the idea of intensive farming. Animals are seen as means of production and their value equals the economic profits that they bring in. Looking at gigantic pig farms, huge dairy farms, or sheds that house tens of thousands of broilers we can no longer talk about rearing domestic animals. Instead, the animals have become tools for making financial profit. This development is the result of conscious political choices. The reason why animals are treated this way cannot be found in individual farmers, it has to do with our common decision making.
In the 15th century the French philosopher René Descartes thought that animals are soulless automata. According to him even the seemingly intelligent ways that animals use to communicate with each other is nothing but mechanical behavior.
Since Descartes, however, our knowledge of animals has increased vastly. Darwin showed us that humans are just another animal species. Today it is taken for granted that mammals and birds are conscious beings just like humans. In addition, the animals are intelligent. We have learned that chickens, for example, can learn tricks faster than dogs and understand numeric differences.
In addition, animals experience emotion. Farmed pigs, cows, and birds, for instance, feel fear, pain, suffering, and loneliness. In other circumstances they could also feel positive emotions such as joy and empathy.
A question: Does the picture of a broiler shed portray the kind of understanding of animals in which these qualities are acknowledged and taken into account? Or does it tell us that we see animals the same way as Descartes did, as automata?
The idea of intensive animal farming is that large quantities of animals are produced at a low cost. Some loss is accepted as a part of the production process. The intelligence, individuality, and consciousness of animals are not allowed to be acknowledged in this kind of thinking. In intensive animal farming the animal is always a product.
It is natural that in factories the machines break down from time to time. When this happens, the management needs to decide whether the machinery should be repaired or replaced. In factory farming, animals are essentially seen as methods of production, just as the machinery in factories. This has to do with the ideology behind the production, and even the best producers cannot do things any other way – if they do, the production ceases to be production and the animals cease to be products.
In factory farming, however, live animals are used instead of machines. The images on this site show what it looks like when these “machines” break down. Even if all the animals on the farm are not injured or all the pens are not covered in feces, the individual cases still reveal something very crucial of the ideology behind animal production.
The contradiction in our concept of animals
There are huge contradictions in our relationship with animals. Our knowledge of the abilities of farm animals continues to increase, but it is not taken into account. We treat animals as if they were unable to experience things – they are alive and gaining weight but they are not really living.
We treat animals differently according to the way we use them. The law says that in a zoo the arctic fox needs to have a 600 square meter enclosure. On a fur farm, however, the same species of animals is given less than 1 square meter, and the farmers still have the nerve to claim that the animals are doing well. Pigs and dogs are equally intelligent, but it would never even occur to us to put a pet dog into a cage where it can barely turn around.
The difference between what we know about animals and how we treat them is huge.
Contradictions in thinking are understandable and human. But a society, in which such a central issue as food production is based on denying scientific knowledge, should really look into a mirror. This contradiction is used to justify an incomprehensible amount of suffering every single minute.
How we carry out this investigation
We will collect and present pictures, videos and writings of Finnish farms on this website. The purpose of these images and other materials is to study the relationship between humans and farm animals.
Our central thesis is that humans see farm animals as biological machines that function solely as instruments of production. The individuality, consciousness and ability to feel that animals have are all ignored.
In contrast, we will also portray animals in conditions in which they are seen as individuals instead of just products.
When we document the farms we follow these principles:
- The farms are not broken into and they are not damaged. We try our best not to disturb the farmers.
- The facilities of the animals and the events there will be documented without affecting them or touching the animals. The viewpoint of this documentation is on the relationship between animals and humans, and on the image of animals that these facilities and events present.
- Suitable protective gear is worn to prevent diseases from spreading.
- We encourage everyone to participate in collecting the material following these principles (and not breaking the law unless it is absolutely necessary).
Some may think that it is wrong to go into buildings that are owned by other people and document what happens behind closed doors.
What happens on these farms is, however, a very important part of our society. The majority of people consume the end product of this industry. These pictures and images show what this industry looks like. This side of the production would be invisible if all we had was the image depicted by the meat producers and advertising agencies.
People have a right to know. This is why opening these door is absolutely necessary.