The Toll of Human Activity on Wildlife: How Many Animals Killed Each Year – The Barbaric Truth!

how many animals killed each year

The human consumption of meat is a complex subject to tackle. One side is offended by the human consumption of an animal diet; the other barks about their need to defend meat for our survival.

We bicker back and forth, and both sides focus on being right. What’s important is that we rethink humane slaughter (a definite contraction of terms) and our increasing dependence on the industry without considering how marine and land animals die.

It’s about finding a solution through education so that farmed land animals and sea creatures don’t suffer.

Top 10 Most Ruthless Stats

How Many Animals Killed Each Year

Recent data shows that more land animals are being raised and killed for food than ever before. Around 92.2 billion animals are slaughtered each year worldwide, as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Despite the epic scale of animal slaughter, many don’t get enough to eat to maintain their own weight. Factory farming is slowly taking over husbandry farming, and animal welfare is a side effect that not everyone can discuss rationally.

We’re discussing how many food animals slaughtered for meat production rank in numbers and why there are no humane methods. The number is at 42.01 billion on the Animal Kill Clock right this second on October 04, 2023.

However, there’s another sinister side to farming on such a mega scale. It’s the impact it has on wildlife and the environment. 

According to Stats of 2021, Annually Almost 83 Billion Animals Were Killed Worldwide (FAO)

Some people get uncomfortable visualizing numbers this high, and others get up in arms when scientists remind us that we, not just meat eaters and vegetarians, we–all animals on the planet–are facing a massive global problem.

Yes, climate change or any other pseudonym that crops up daily in our conversation is preventable through better farming methods. The FAO (The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) assesses the environmental impact of livestock production and animal slaughter.

To kill 83 billion animals annually must mean we keep a continuous cycle of billions of animals subjected to inhumane treatment. Moreover, it is important to note that this number does not include fish or other sea animals, which are also widely consumed by humans.

More than 100 Million Animals Are Killed Each Year by Hunters in the US (Animal Matters)

how many animals killed each year

It’s a staggering figure, and while hunting is a popular sport in America, could anyone imagine that we kill 100 million wild and exotic animals every year (for fun)? The United States Department of Agriculture is busy counting the number of animals killed.

While hunters, excluding poachers, must apply for hunting permits, state officials calculate slaughtered animals. They don’t account for the animals that die needlessly from lead shots left behind in the environment and fall victim to lead poisoning.

Almost 35,000 Elephants Are Killed in Botswana Annually (African Wildlife Foundation)

We’re still talking about dead elephants—poachers needlessly murder elephants for their tusks. There’s an ongoing war between poachers (no, they’re not poor men trying to feed their families; they’re criminal gangs) and the game wardens trying to protect wildlife.

Time is running out for elephants, and the alarm is set. Please stop buying ivory goods because 35,000 dead elephants are too many.

Globally, 100 Million Sharks Are Killed Annually (Sentient Media)

how many animals killed each year

Sharks aren’t cute and cuddly (except Pyjama sharks), but it’s incomprehensible that we hack off their fins and toss them back in the ocean to die. This practice is cruel to all aquatic animals, and they feel pain.

Sharks are 400 million years old and have survived five extinction periods, but can they survive number six?

More than 125,000 Animals Are Killed Each Year for Trophy Hunting (World Animal Protection)

Trophy Hunting

Numbers for hunting legally and illegally aren’t always easy to come by. But reports suggest that over 1.26 million trophy animals arrived on American soil between 2005 and 2014 from around the world.

That means 126,000 animals die yearly from sport hunting. Proponents will argue that tourism in Africa for trophy hunting puts money into the economy. True.

But it indefinitely removes 40,000 elephants, 8,000 leopards, 14,000 lions, and other species from our planet for a single day of fun. Eventually, we’ll run out, and it’s not teaching people sustainable skills.

How Many Animals Are Killed For Food Each Year

Do you want to know? According to the American Kill Clock, that number doesn’t stand still. It’s almost the end of 2023; the number of animals is at 41.7 billion.

number of animals killed each year

Globally More than 73 Billion Chickens Are Slaughtered Annually (FAO)

how many animals are killed each year

The world population has doubled in the last 50 years, but our consumption of animal protein has tripled, according to the World Economic Forum, and not all of us are eating. 

How many chickens are killed annually? We slaughter 73 billion broilers annually and are still hungry for more. The USA alone consumes 9 billion poultry animal products.

Almost 50 Billion to 167 Billion Farmed Fish Were Killed in 2017 for Food (Fish Count)

how many cows are killed each year worldwide

Did you know that we farmed fish in those high concentrations? Did you also know wild-caught and farmed fishing exposes animals to intense suffering? Fish and other marine life die by being crushed, suffocated, frozen, sliced alive, and other inhumane methods.

According to fishcount.org.uk, these are animal slaughter numbers for fish:

  • 790 – 2,300 billion* fish were harvested from the wild from 2007-2016
  • 970 – 2,700 billion fish were taken from the wild from 1999-2007
  • 460 – 1,100 billion fish were captured to make fishmeal and oil from 2007-2016.
  • 51 – 167 billion farmed fish were taken for food in 2017.
  • 250 – 600 billion farmed crustaceans were also fished in 2017.

Surprisingly, people consume disease-filled farmed fish full of mercury.

After Chicken, Fish, Cattle, and Ducks, the Most Commonly Slaughtered Animals Are Pigs at 1.3 Billion Annually (FAO)

The Livestock Environment and Development (LEAD) initiative keeps tabs on how many animals die in the factory and conventional farming facilities.

Although pork is not a food product every culture consumes, people are still consuming pork products from 1.3 billion pigs. 

Almost 4.3 Billion Ducks Were Killed for Food in 2021 (FAO)

Ducks Were Killed for Food

Who is eating all the ducks? According to statistics, duck consumption is rising in specific regions. As the Asian middle class prospers, so does duck consumption.

From 2000 to 2013, Asia consumed 91.1%, and demand rose from 1.8 million tonnes to 2.9 million tonnes. Myanmar also had a duck production increase of 11%.

In the US, 27.5 million ducks became the menu in 2019. Sadly, these factory farm fowl never got to experience what they do naturally or humane slaughter.

According to the FAO Report of 2021, Almost 749 Million Geese and 52 Million Guinea Fowls Are Killed Annually (FAO)

Let’s start another debate. We use geese and ducks for down in our duvet bedding. We also enjoy celebrating our season with a Christmas goose. However, in 2021, we slaughtered two million geese and guinea fowl daily to satisfy our food cravings. 

Animal advocates fight tirelessly to find better alternatives to how we treat these animals and confine them in tight cages. Further, we force-feed them to produce foie gras. This pate is a delicacy in many countries, produced by fattening and enlarging their livers.

In 2021, More Than 500 Million Goats Were Slaughtered for Food (FAO)

how many animals killed each year

Humans have an insatiable appetite. China consumed the most goats at 163,247,168, followed by India with 50,519,315 (surprising), and in Bangladesh, 29,812,862 animals were slaughtered.

Asian and African countries have experienced an increase in goat meat consumption since the inception of data collection in 1960.

According to Stats of 2021, 572 Million Rabbits were Killed for Meat (FAO)

how many animals are killed each year for food

North Americans might consume more chocolate bunnies, while European countries consume 1.7 million rabbits daily. Rabbit is on the menu in Italy, France, and Spain. The EU consumes 28% of the global rabbit diet.

In 2021, 602 Million Sheep Were Killed for Food in the World (FAO)

Around the world, we slaughtered 1.5 million ewes daily in 2021. China has the most significant world population, taking 26.2% of the sheep pie. Despite the small population size, the Falkland Islands slaughtered 14.2 sheep per person in 2016.

Under 4000 people live in the Falklands, and sheep at half a million outnumber bovines about 10 to 1 (4500). 

Globally, Almost 617 Million Turkeys Were Slaughtered in 2021 (FAO)

The US slaughters almost a third of the world’s population of turkeys by consuming 224 million. Most of those 46 million turkeys are for Thanksgiving. 

Turkeys are inhumanely caged in farms and never get to explore their inquisitive side or form the social bonds they exhibit naturally. 

From 2007 to 2016, 790 to 2300 Billion Wild Fish Were Killed for Food Globally (Fish Count)

how many animals are killed each year for food

That number is just bizarre. Industrial fishing is barbarous. The amount of waste, called bycatch, is breathtaking. Innocent whales, seals, sharks, marine birds, and turtles get tangled in the nets or discarded like trash around the world.

At the rate we slaughter fish from the ocean, approximately 2.1 billion a day, our oceans should be empty by mid-century; way to go!

How Many Cows Are Killed Each Year

how many cows are killed each year

Some people claim that cattle are dumb, but anyone who has ever watched a cow herd can see that they form unique relationships with each other and their calves. 

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) controls agricultural production in the USA. Figures from 2019 suggest in one month, shy of 3 million beef move through slaughter facilities. That means slaughterhouses kill and process 95,000 animals on the kill floor.

The FAO figures suggest that globally, 324,518,029 cattle, or 890,000 per day, get slaughtered for food. And 3.1 billion people aren’t consuming enough food.

Almost 1.5 Billion Cows Are Killed Each Year (Weforum)

Humans better hope that animals never join forces and team up on us. We are outnumbered by three to one at any given time. The World Economic Forum says we’re consuming more meat and eating 1.5 billion slaughtered bovines. China wins by a wide margin.

Every Year, 29 Million Cows Die in the Meat and Dairy Industries (PETA)

Have you ever looked a cow in the eye? Cattle have the most beautiful eyes and eyelashes. Yet, sadly, calves get branded and are dehorned, and males are castrated. None of the animals receive pain relief for what they endure.

According to Stats of 2021, 34.36 Million Cows Were Killed in the US for Food (FAO)

Per month! This number represents the number of cows slaughtered specifically for human consumption purposes. It indicates the substantial impact of the meat industry on animal welfare and the environment.

Cattle often get blamed for being methane producers; however, it’s the farms and people who consume them who are the methane producers.

In 2019, on Average, 95,000 Cows Were Killed Daily in the US (USDA)

Every once in a while, there’s a news story of some cow that escaped the feedlot. A feedlot is the last stop for cattle to fatten them up. We privately hope some rescue shelter comes and whisks the cow away to live happily. That leaves 94,999 bovines a day that needs rescuing. 

How Many Animals Killed Each Year in the US

how many animals are killed each day

The Animal Kill Clock is disturbing to watch. In the US alone, 23.3 million land animals die inhumanely in slaughter plants. That number doesn’t include shellfish and marine life, which die drastically by slaughter and increase to 150 million for food production. 

Seafood is used in fish farming to feed salmon on a small fish diet.

According to the latest stats, more than 55 Billion Animals Are Slaughtered for Food in the US (FAO)

Are we still surprised that North Americans are obese? It’s like we’re on a feeding frenzy, and experts suggest that the average American will consume 7000 animals in their lifetime. No matter how you slice it, that’s a tremendous amount of protein and heart attacks waiting to happen. 

The Kill Clock relies on USDA data to produce stats. It says 50 billion animals have been slaughtered so far.

Broilers chicken took the brunt from the death squad and lost 8 billion feathered chicks. Additionally, that’s 214 million turkeys, 36 million cattle, 124 million pigs, 23 million ducks, 7 million sheep, 4 billion fish, and 43 billion shellfish around the world.

More than 20 Million Animals Die Every Year in the US On their Way to Abattoirs (The Guardian)

Yes, an astonishing 20 million animals die on a transport truck before reaching the abattoir or are injured. It’s not a misprint.

Abattoir, what a fancy way of sugar-coating one of the darkest places on the collective human conscience, the modern slaughterhouse.

The inhumanity these animals suffer is beyond horrific and verified stats confirm that 20 million chicks, 330,000 pigs, and 166,000 are DOA. Pigs are squeezed into transport trucks, so their intestines pop out, and another 800,000 cannot walk.

In 2020, Almost 165 Million Land Animals Were Killed in the US (USDA)

The USDA keeps track of the long line of animals that meet their cruel fate in slaughterhouses in the US. Over 165 million animals ended their lives this way. That figure excludes chicken and fish, and shellfish, as the industry measures marine life by weight.

On Average, 7000 Animals Are Consumed by US Citizens in Their Lifetime (Sentient Media)

Ever wonder if there is a direct correlation between the American population being overweight and consuming 7000 animals in their lifetime? Watching the Kill Clock count the number of slaughtered animals every minute ignites a feeling of immense shame. The clock counts up to 55 billion animals on death row in the US alone.

Here is a news flash: Roman Gladiators, those lean and fit fighting machines, were primarily vegetarian.

Let’s reduce these monthly numbers:

  • 8 billion poultry
  • 214 million turkeys
  • 36 million cattle
  • 124 million pigs
  • 23 million ducks
  • 7 million sheep
  • 4 billion fish
  • 43 billion shellfish

Or at least rethink how inhumanely and selfishly we mistreat animals.

99% of Animals Consumed as Food in the US Are Raised on Factory Farms (Sentience Institute)

Factory farms now produce 99% of all animals we consume. Chickens take the brunt of being mass-produced in these highly efficient but inhumane facilities. The reality of factory-farmed animals is breathtakingly cruel, and animal rights go out the window.

  • 99.9% of broilers
  • 70.4% cattle
  • 99.8% hogs
  • 98.2% laying hens
  • 99.8% turkeys
  • Virtually all fish (little data)

Although many of these facilities rely on state-of-the-art tech, the farmed animals live inhumanely, and many have a disease and are injured. These numbers are based on USDA and EPA resources tabulated by the Sentience Institute.

Stats of 2023 Show Around 9 Billion Chickens Are Killed Annually in the US (PETA)

killing animals for food

Did you know that poultry animals are super intelligent and affectionate? Since, around the world, we consume 9 billion chickens annually, it goes without saying that these feathered creatures receive the brunt of abuse (yes, marine life gets kicked in the face too). 

Broiler chickens have short lives, and the 305 million laying hens spend a lifetime without proper treatment. They’re forced into starvation to produce more eggs–or off with their heads.

Although there is such a thing as the Animal Welfare Act in America, it does nothing to protect chickens, pigs, or any species, even though Americans claim they stand behind that law.

The Number of Turkeys Slaughtered Annually in the US is 214,508,816 (Animal Clock)

“The question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?” A quote from a 1789 philosopher.

The Kill Clock is difficult to watch, and the numbers it tabulates, like 214,508,816 slaughtered turkeys, climb higher every second.

In the US, Around 124,061,094 Pigs Are Killed Annually (Animal Clock)

how are lambs slaughtered

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson 1860)

The clock can only stop when the last of the animals are dead. In the US alone, we slaughter 124,061,094 pigs using a 70% to 90% carbon dioxide concentrate.

Ducks Killed in the US Annually Are 23,275,362 (Animal Clock)

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” (George Bernard Shaw, 1897)

Animal welfare neglect and our population size are impacting agriculture and animal suffering for every species.

Almost 7,499,676 Sheep Are Killed Each Year in the US (Animal Clock)

how are lambs slaughtered

“The time will come when people, such as I, will look upon the murder of animals as they look now on the murder of people.” (Dmitry Merezhkovsky, 1900)

There is a rolling pasture, green and lush, spotted with furry sheep giving birth to lambs each spring so that we can eat 7,499,676 of them in the US every year. (And sheep is far down on the animal protein list.)

The Number of Fish and Shellfish Killed Each Year in the US is 3,797,000,000 and 43,109,000,000, respectively (Animal Clock)

how are animals killed for food

Few people can attach any feelings to the billions of fish and shellfish we consume. Many people believe these sea creatures are mindless, yet other people repeatedly prove and film that these creatures have intelligence and curiosity, which supports the theory that slaughtering them mercilessly is a crime. 

Watch how this extraordinary encounter proves we don’t have to save the entire world alone, but one act of kindness changes everything.

How Many Animals Are Killed Each Day

The numbers are staggering, and watching the Kill Clock should affect everyone. It’s incomprehensible that it doesn’t get people right where our souls should be. As humans, the world over, we consume meat from every animal source.

Per Day, 200 Million Chickens Were Killed in 2021 (FAO)

In 2021 alone, people consumed almost 73 billion chickens worldwide, meaning 200 million chickens per day met death by water-bath electrocution. 

Imagine 200 million shackled upside-down on assembly lines and zapped. Advocates are pleading for a humane gas method. No one has yet asked broiler chickens how they feel.

Per Day, Ducks Slaughter Reached up to 12 Million in 2021 (FAO)

The US has a smaller share of the duck market, at 27.5 million, than other meat products. China increased duck production, and so did Myanmar in the last decade. According to FAO, in 2021, we slaughtered 4.3 billion ducks or 12 million per day.

Each Day, 140 to 147 Million Farmed Fish Were Killed in 2017 (Fish Count)

how are cows killed in slaughterhouse

Sad, not too many people care about the feelings of fish. Perhaps it’s too traumatic to realize that up to 147 million fish (undoubtedly more since this 2017 figure) farmed fish get slaughtered for our benefit and animal feed.

According to fishcount.org, the number of farmed fish harvested in 2017 is between 51 to 167 billion and 600 billion farmed crustaceans.

Almost 2 Million Geese and Guinea Fowls Are Killed Each Day (FAO)

If you missed the FAO factual data link about how many geese and guinea fowl we kill daily, check out the numbers. Perhaps you can help drive change. We harvest geese and guinea fowl at two million per day to satisfy our taste buds for foie gras and luxurious goose-down duvets.

Almost 1.4 Million Goats Are Slaughtered per Day Globally (FAO)

Those cute yoga goats end up in the pot, and an estimated 1.3 million goats are slaughtered daily by slaughterhouse workers. That figure doesn’t include privately raised land animals.

In 2021, more than 500 million goats became food; that means 1.4 million per day. China, India, and Bangladesh consumed the most goat meat, steadily increasing since 1960.

Around 3.5 Million Pigs Are Slaughtered Annually (FAO)

Pork is popular in the US, China, and Germany (other European nations), but Denmark has the highest per-person consumption rate of 3.2 pigs annually.

  • China (715,374,588)
  •  United States (118,303,900)
  •  Germany (59,480,468)

Did you know that hog bristles are used for hair, paint, and makeup brushes?

Every Day 1.7 Million Rabbits Are Killed Globally (FAO)

You thought we were done. After all, how long can the senseless slaughter go on? Rabbit stew is a rare dish in North America, but the European Union consumes 28% of the rabbit meat harvested. According to 2021 figures, 1.7 million rabbits die every day. France, Spain, and Italy led the pack in consuming rabbit fluffles.

Worldwide, Almost 1.6 Million Sheep Were Killed per Day in 2021 (FAO)

China continues to lead in animal meat consumption as their economic circumstances increase, and the trend will continue. A 2019 analysis of sheep meat consumption pegged China as consuming 26.2% share. Surprisingly, the tiny island nation of the Falklands consumes 14.2 sheep per person annually. 

Animals Killed Each Day

Almost 46 Million Turkeys Are Killed on a Single Day of Thanksgiving (Time)

American Thanksgiving is the second biggest holiday in the US, and eating turkey is part of the original pilgrim Thanksgiving dinner shared with the Wampanoag Indigenous. 

They would have eaten wild turkey. Today, Americans consume 46 million factory-farmed birds in one sitting.

Rough Estimates Show Almost 2.1 Billion Wild Fish Are Caught and Killed Every Single Day to Feed People (Fish Count)

Apparently, we believe the ocean is an endless pit. We carelessly use it as a dumping ground and rape it for 2.1 billion fish daily, and never give anything back.

International and EU agencies like the International Council on the Exploration of the Sea and Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, set fishing quotas. Or is it a Seaspiracy?

FAQ’s

How Many Cows Are on Earth?

There are approximately 1.5 billion bovines on our planet.

Which Country Has the Most Cows?

Surprisingly, the country with the most livestock is India, with about 30% of the share. Second is Brazil with 25.25%, China at 9.55%, the US has 9.35%, and the EU at 8.55% share.

Which US State Has the Least Number of Cows?

Rhode Island only has 5000 livestock or 0.01%. Alaska and Delaware follow.

Which US State Slaughters the Most Number of Cows?

Nebraskan farms raise and slaughter the most, followed by Kansas and Texas, according to USDA. However, South Dakota and Montana are also prolific.

How Do Slaughterhouses Kill Cattle?

Once cattle are unloaded from trucks, slaughterhouse workers shoot a penetrating captive bolt into the animal’s brain. They’re then hung from their hind legs and bled (which means cutting their throats). This method is standard and used on sheep and pigs, and many animals regain consciousness.

You can read about animal cruelty statistics to find out how lab and farm animals are slaughtered.

How Are Animals Killed for Food?

Most animals grown for food are factory-farmed and processed. The meat industry has the act of slaughtering and butchering down to pennies per pound. 

Cattle, pigs, and sheep are usually massacred with a penetrating captive bold and then bled and processed. (Sorry, not going to attach a video.)

Chickens are delivered in crates, hung on an automated conveyor, and water electrocuted. This method is very effective at killing and butchering billions of broiler chickens. It’s also inhumane, and you can also learn more about how many chickens are killed yearly to understand the extent of atrocity!

Parting Thoughts

Humans kill billions of animals annually for consumption and sport. We’ve gone so far that we are hunting wild animals to extinction because it promotes local economies.

These intelligent animals feel pain and deserve humane handling and humane slaughter. Yet, we forget animal rights, and millions experience unnecessary trauma, pain, and immense cruelty.

These stats and figures must make at least some of us ashamed, feel guilty, and perhaps angry. However, those sentiments don’t change the quality of life for animals. We all have the power to affect change by making small contributions.

Remember, there are 8 billion of us!

Monika Martyn
Monika Martyn is a nomadic minimalist and published author. Her pet portfolio includes experience with over forty cats and dogs, and she becomes their surrogate and a valued pack member. One of her proudest accomplishments is typing while petting a fur baby on her lap. She also excels at dog-speak and cat-talk and is working on mastering fish lingo. Aside from her animal advocacy, she is passionate about the environment, plastic pollution, and living with less (not including chocolate and coffee). She practices yoga and meditation faithfully. She’s experienced living abroad and believes that together people can evoke change for the better. Or at least be kind to one another despite our differences. She has an uncanny knack for remembering people’s names. She’s proud of her two Pushcart Nominations, her debut novel, and her marriage. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. Monika believes that education is the biggest gift to humanity at any age.

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