A NEW map has shown that Herefordshire is the most active county for factory farming in the UK with millions of animals reared indoors.

Produced by animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming, the interactive map displays the number of farm animals estimated to be permanently housed indoors in the UK by species.

It also shows ‘hotspots’ in counties where large numbers of animals are reared indoors.

In Herefordshire the number of indoor-reared laying hens, broiler chickens and pigs are numbered at 113,000, 16,726,000 and 5,010 respectively.

These numbers combined are what makes Herefordshire the highest region in the UK for factory farming overall.

Cumulatively the figure for the top three counties; Herefordshire, Shropshire and Norfolk, stands at almost 44 million animals confined indoors without access to natural daylight, fresh air or ability to display their natural behaviours.

Emma Slawinski, Compassion in World Farming’s director of campaigns, said: “With around 70% of farm animals in the UK kept in factory farms, this is a practice we should be moving away from, not towards.

“Animals are not simply commodities, whose sole purpose is production.

“The huge implications on animal welfare, human health and our environment cannot be ignored.

“Moving animals away from the countryside into cages and crowded sheds may seem like a space-saving idea.

“But this ignores the fact that vast amounts of land is used elsewhere to grow feed for them.”

The organisation said British farmers are under growing pressure to use more intensive methods to produce huge quantities of cheap meat, dairy, and eggs – but this comes at a ‘great cost’ for animal welfare, for human health, and for the environment.

These results, they say, indicate a worrying trend in the growth of intensive agriculture in rural areas to produce cheap meat, dairy and eggs.

Ms Slawinski added that there is a better way.

“By choosing cage-free, free range and organic produce you are providing farm animals with the opportunity to live a full life,” she explained.

“One where they are able to move freely and display their natural behaviours.

“The end of factory farming will benefit the animals, us and our planet.”