Comparing Cruelty: Lesson 1 Geography, Yr 9

Producing Cruelty: Considering the Impacts of Factory Farming

Information to Teachers

The suggested activities below have been developed for a Stage 5, Year 9 Geography class and ask students to evaluate the impacts of intensive animal agriculture (factory farming) on animals and the environment.

These activities refer to the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI) as its primary resource. The VACI tracks the animal welfare performance of 50 countries selected among the largest producers of farmed animal products in the world.

The interactive Index evaluates and ranks the countries based on the nature, extent, and intensity of cruelty associated with farmed animal production. In addition, it also assesses and ranks the consumption of farmed animals and animal products and the regulatory frameworks put in place to protect farmed animals within each country.

In these activities, students are asked to critically examine the facts and figures of the VACI; questioning how animal cruelty can be measured and considering what countries could be doing to better protect animals from such cruelty.

Time Allocation

50-100 minutes.

Target

Mixed ability class with extension tasks.

Unit Focus

Question – what do you think constitutes animal cruelty, and what do you think countries could be doing better to protect animals from cruelty?
Consider – the different views on this issue, and decide for yourself where you stand.
Discuss – with your friends, family, classmates and teachers. Debating complex issues is healthy and helpful.

Voiceless Resources

Download the lesson bundle here.

Find all resources at www.voiceless.org.au.

Other Resources

Inquiry Questions

  • In what ways can producing animals in factory farming systems correlate with animal cruelty?
  • What are the consequences of factory farming for animals, humans, and the environment?

Suggested Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST

Students respond to the following questions:

  1. What do you already know about animal welfare laws in Australia?
  2. What is the difference between animal rights and animal welfare?
  3. Write your own definition of the word ‘cruel’.  Now, look up the definition and examples in the Cambridge dictionary online: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/.
  4. What is your understanding of the word ‘produce’?
  5. What do you already know about how animals are produced for food in Australia?

Teacher Tip Icon

Refer to VACI Glossary for definitions of ‘animal rights’ and ‘animal welfare’.

2. STARTER

Students watch the Voiceless video – Animal Protection Around The World: Who Ranks Best and Worst?

Use the questions below with your students.

Before Viewing

  • For you, what does it mean to be cruel?
  • Can you write your own definition of ‘animal cruelty’?

During Viewing

  • What are the three different ways the Index measures cruelty?
  • Note down 3 facts or statistics that you hear/see as you watch.

After Viewing

  • Of the three case studies which were you most surprised about and why?
  • What further questions would you like to have answered in relation to the Index?
  • What do you think constitutes animal cruelty, and what do you think countries could be doing better to protect animals from cruelty?

3. EXPLORE

What does it mean to produce cruelty?

As a class, read the short explanation of the Producing Cruelty category. Access it here. Or, at www.vaci.voiceless.org.au.

Teacher Tip Icon

Read the section as a class and then spend some time in discussion with your students. There may be some difficult/unfamiliar terminology – use the VACI Glossary for further clarification.

Group Comprehension Task

In pairs, students read the Voiceless Hot Topics page – Factory Farming. This could be printed off in advance, or students could be directed to the webpage.

Students work together to answer the following questions:

  • In your own words, how would you describe a factory farm?
  • How do you think this differs from ‘traditional methods’ of farming?
  • In what ways does factory farming relate to animal cruelty?
  • Which animals are not accounted for in the results provided by the VACI?
  • What are some of the environmental impacts of factory farming?
  • What drives the production of meat, dairy and eggs?

4. DISCUSS

Comparing Countries

The countries in the VACI are ranked as follows:

  • Very Good (A)
  • Good (B)
  • Adequate (C)
  • Marginal (D)
  • Poor (E)
  • Very Poor (F)
  • Worst (G)

No countries were awarded a Very Good (A).

Students continue to work in pairs and choose two countries (not already covered in the video) to compare. They should select a Very Poor to Worst performer (between 40-50) and an Adequate to Good performer (between 1-10).

Students will need access to the interactive VACI, the World Animal Protection Index (API), and Google to complete this task.

Complete the comparison table below, or download the ‘Comparing Countries Worksheet’.

5. SHARE

Students to present their research and findings from the task above in a short oral presentation (3-4 minutes).

In addition, students could transform their findings from the table above into an infographic. There are free tools to create infographics online, such as Canva.

6. REFLECT

Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.’ (Sustainability outcome taken from: www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/)

In light of what you have discussed in the previous activities, compose a visual or written response to the statement above.

7. EXTENSION

Battery Hens

Read about the welfare issues experienced by layer hens confined to small cages for egg production. Click here to access the Voiceless Hot Topics page on Battery Hens.

  • Give examples of natural behaviours which hens find difficult to perform when confined to small cages?
  • List 5 physical or emotional impacts that battery hens can experience in this type of factory farming.
  • Which is the only jurisdiction in Australia that has completely banned battery cages for egg production?

Voiceless would be delighted to receive completed student work to consider for publication on the Voiceless website. If you have student/parental consent or would like to get in contact with us to provide some feedback on this APE, including how it was recieved by your students, please email work or feedback to education@voiceless.org.au.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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