Some people argue that a transition to higher numbers on animals on farms compromises animal welfare, saying the sheer number of animals makes it impossible to provide individual care and attention. However, no direct links, positive or negative, between farm size and animal welfare, have been confirmed in studies specifically examining this.
There is no evidence that farmers on large farms view the welfare of animals differently than farmers on small farms. Depending on considerations of what welfare entails, smaller farms are more likely to accommodate outdoor access, and some people value this aspect when considering animal welfare, but there is no evidence to support lesser welfare standards from indoor housing.
What can be established about larger farms is that such production systems are more likely to implement science-based, standard operating procedures, to provide training for their employees, and to utilise technology to track and monitor animals and to implement costly changes to improve welfare.
A 2016 study ‘Farm Size and Animal Welfare’[ref]Frazer et al (2016), “Farm Size and Animal Welfare”, Journal of Animal Science[/ref] proposes that policy and advocacy efforts aimed at reversing increases in farm size would be better directed toward improving welfare on farms of all sizes.