Is Hunting the Solution to Factory Farming?

Is hunting a better way to feed meat to the masses?

Cecil the Lion
Cecil was slaughtered by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. NBC News

Updated and edited by Michelle A. Rivera,'s Animal Rights Expert


Most people are familiar with the horrors of factory farming, including one of many environmental concerns such as, according to DoSometing.Org, "Factory farming accounts for 37% (sic) of methane (CH4) emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2." The massive cruelty to animals on a next-level-shit scale so large it's impossible to get your mind around has been widely documented.

Peta has a good starter factsheet which can be found here. Also, Americans are becoming smarter about the connection between factory-farmed animals and human health. According to the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, there is a direct link between eating meat and cancer.

Could hunting be the solution? The animals run free and there are no worries about manure disposal or growing crops for livestock to eat. The meat is free of antibiotics and hormones. What could possibly go wrong?

Factory Farming - the Problem

Cruelty to animals is one of the major criticisms of factory farming, and the reasons are obvious. Laying hens are confined in battery cages, sows are kept in gestation stalls, and calves spend the entirety of their short lives in veal crates. Chickens are debeaked, piglets are castrated and have their tails docked, and cows are branded - all without anesthesia. Factory farming also destroys the environment because of the inherent inefficiency of growing crops to feed livestock, and the pollution from methane, agricultural chemicals, and manure.

Some people also have health concerns about consuming meat with pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.

The solution to factory farming cannot be grass-fed, local or organic meat. Local meat may be factory farmed. Organic meat may address some of the concerns about factory farming, but can still be very cruel and wasteful.

And there isn't enough land on earth to let livestock roam free to make grass-fed meat.

Hunting and Animals

From an animal rights perspective, hunting cannot be the solution to factory farming because an animal is still exploited and slaughtered. From an animal welfare viewpoint, hunting has some advantages. The animals are not confined. They are not subjected to castration, debeaking, tail docking and other abuses. Some hunters also pride themselves on the "fair chase" - the possibility that the animal might escape unharmed.

There are, however, some animal welfare concerns specific to hunting. A main concern for animal ethics groups are the fact that animals who are wounded but still escape will face a slow, torturous death. Wounding is especially a problem with bowhunting, which has a higher wounding rate than hunting with a gun. This fact was beautifully illustrated on July 1, 2015, when Cecil, an adult male lion who had been living in a Zimbabwe preserve as a well-known attraction and who was being studied by the University of Oxford, was lured off the preserve and shot by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer with a crossbow, He hit Cecil, but it took the mortally wounded animal 40 hours to die while being stalked by Palmer who was looking for just another trophy.

The arrogance of this hunter to take such a beautiful resource that belonged to the world is beyond the pale.  Hunting is not a means of sustenance of the body, it's a means of sustenance for the ego. Cecil's pride of six cubs are in grave danger of being killed by another male lion who wants to remove all traces of Cecil from the territory. When females of any species with babies die, the babies become casualties of that death.

Hunting and Human Health

The meat from wild animals may be healthier than factory farmed meat that is high in fat and laced with pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. However, wild animals can carry diseases and parasites. Unlike factory farmed meat, wild game is not regulated by the USDA or even inspected by a professional butcher before being consumed.

Hunting also creates a unique risk to the community - hunting accidents.

Approximately 1,000 people are shot in hunting accidents in North America every year. Of these accidents, about 100 are fatal.

Hunting and the Environment

Regardless of the concerns about animal suffering or human health risks, the reason that hunting cannot be the solution to factory farming is the environmental reason. If 7 billion people hunted for meat, there would be no wildlife left. In the United States, approximately 5 per cent of the population hunts, and very few of those people rely exclusively on hunting for meat. Even with this relatively low level of demand, wolves are killed so that there will be more elk, moose, deer and caribou for hunters. Public lands are clearcut to create the edge habitat favored by deer and state wildlife management agencies plant crops to feed the deer. These killings and environmental manipulations are done to make it easier for a small number of hunters to kill deer and other "game" animals. If the number of hunters went up, we would see a rise in these wildlife management tactics that artificially boost the deer population and kill other animals. Hunters use the excuse they are helping the deer avoid starving to death because deer overpopulation strains the resources that sustain them. But hunters are not looking for the weakest specimens, they want the strong, healthy males with "big racks" because, in addition to their venison, they get a wall hanging. When these strong and vibrant animals are removed from the gene pool, leaving only weak and diseased animals, the population of that species declines.


There are now approximately 30 million whitetail deer in the U.S. Compare that number to the 10 billion land animals who are killed for food every year in America.

Hunters also ignore the fact that quail and pheasants are bred on farms and released at pre-announced times and locations, just to be shot.

The reason a hunter can say that his dinner was a wild animal who lived free of antibiotics and hormones is that there is a small number of hunters hunting a small number of animals. Without reducing the amount of meat people eat, it is literally impossible for 300 million Americans to get their meat from hunting.


Veganism is the solution to factory farming. The reason we have factory farming is because it is the most efficient way to feed meat, eggs and dairy to billions of people. Killing wild animals or taking the animals out of confinement only works on a small scale because we don't have enough land to feed wild game or grass-fed beef to the masses. If the purported solution cannot be scaled up to feed seven billion people, it cannot be the solution to factory farming.


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Your Citation
Lin, Doris. "Is Hunting the Solution to Factory Farming?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 15, 2016, Lin, Doris. (2016, June 15). Is Hunting the Solution to Factory Farming? Retrieved from Lin, Doris. "Is Hunting the Solution to Factory Farming?" ThoughtCo. (accessed December 12, 2017).