Intensive farming

Our work Animals in Aotearoa Intensive farming

Clean, green New Zealand?

When we think of farming in New Zealand, we imagine clean, green rolling hills, lush pastures and plenty of space for animals.


But sadly, New Zealand has a dirty secret – behind the windowless walls of intensive indoor farms, animals such as mother pigs, chickens bred for meat and hens laying eggs are crammed together, suffering in silence, cleverly hidden away from the public eye.


It doesn’t have to be this way. Intensive farming doesn’t just hurt animals – it can be harmful to our planet and to our health. We all have a role to play in reshaping our broken food system, and in turn, protecting our beautiful country and keeping it safe and healthy for all who call it home.


Intensive farming

Intensive farming is the sad result of the demand for ‘cheap’ animal products. And, it’s the animals who pay the real price. Animals on intensive farms barely see the light of day and have little space to move or express their natural behaviour, making this type of farming technically illegal under our animal welfare laws.

Intensively farmed animals suffer. Layer hens are trapped in cages, unable to spread their wings. Mother pigs are confined to narrow farrowing crates. Chickens bred for meat are crippled due to their unnatural body weight, the result of selective breeding.

It’s not just the animals who suffer – human health is also at risk. The way we raise animals for food can create the ideal conditions for the evolution and transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans, like COVID-19.

The Climate Change Commission’s plan must focus on Aotearoa’s biggest polluter – animal agriculture

Right now, the Climate Change Commission is taking submissions from the public. This is our chance to demand an ambitious action plan that puts an emphasis on reducing pollution from animal agriculture and promotes a climate-healthy Aotearoa.


Not only does intensive farming damage New Zealand’s international reputation, it harms our environment too.

Animal waste can be a big problem – just one cow produces 15 times more effluent than a human. Of course all farmed animals produce waste, but in overcrowded intensive farms the problem is much worse. The daily pile-up of excrement can lead to serious environmental problems.

“Pollution from more agricultural intensification in rural areas has become the worst threat to freshwater ecosystems.” Society for Conservation Biology, 2015.

Some farmers use large ponds or lagoons to hold this waste, which can then overflow into waterways. The residue of pesticides also causes health and environmental problems, as it too seeps into groundwater.

Our environment

Animal farming is responsible for most of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the leading cause of deforestation around the world.

Over 50% of New Zealand’s landmass has been cleared to farm animals, and intensive farming causes significant pollution of our fresh waterways and erosion of our soil.

Intensive farming is unsustainable, being highly dependent on our precious resources, such as water, energy and land to grow the crops on which the animals feed.

Take action against new farm proposals

Help stop proposals to build and expand intensive farms by making a submission to your local council. Pressure from residents and activists has already successfully prevented intensive farms being built. You could be a part of the next successful campaign to stop an intensive farm in your area.

There is a solution

While the problem may seem too big to tackle, there is something you can do today.

Switching to a plant-based diet is better for our planet, our health and of course, the animals, and there has never been a better time to do it.

We now know that we can get everything we need from plants to live a healthy lifestyle that is kind to animals and the planet.

Need help getting started? Sign up to the plant-based challenge and we will send you tips, recipes and inspiration.

Eat Kind

Take action!

Farming animals is the number one cause of climate change, contributing more greenhouse gases than all of the world's transport combined. The best thing you can do for the environment is to Eat Kind.

Try plant-based!

Eat with kindness

Get ready to be inspired by how enjoyable, easy and delicious it can be to live in a way that is kinder to our planet and all who live on it.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.