Animal Welfare

On Our World in Data, we cover many topics related to reducing human suffering: alleviating poverty, reducing child and maternal mortality, curing diseases, and ending hunger.

But if we aim to reduce total suffering, society’s ability to reduce this in other animals – which feel pain, too – also matters.

This is especially true when we look at the numbers: every year, humans slaughter more than 80 billion land-based animals for farming alone. Most of these animals are raised in factory farms, often in painful and inhumane conditions.

Estimates for fish are more uncertain, but when we include them, these numbers more than double.1

These numbers are large – but this also means that there are large opportunities to alleviate animal suffering by reducing the number of animals we use for food, science, cosmetics, and other industries and improving the living conditions of those we continue to raise.

On this page, you can find all of our data, visualizations, and writing on animal welfare.

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  1. Unfortunately, the UN FAO only publishes data on wild fish catch and aquaculture production in terms of tonnes, and not as a count of the number of individual animals.

    Other organizations attempt to estimate the number of individual animals, at least the number of farmed fish. The published estimates for the number of farmed fish come with very large uncertainties, but give some indication of the scale:

    • For farmed fish in 2019, the Sentience Institute gives a midpoint estimate of 77 billion. The range around this midpoint is large, from 29 to 149 billion animals annually.
    • The study by Mood, Lara, Boyland, and Brooke (2023) estimates the total number of farmed finfish to be 124 billion. See Mood, A., Lara, E., Boyland, N., & Brooke, P. (2023). Estimating global numbers of farmed fishes killed for food annually from 1990 to 2019. Animal Welfare, 32, E12.

    Only considering farmed fish and relying on the midpoint estimate published by the Sentience Institute, the number of killed fish each year is 77 billion. This would mean the number of killed farmed fish is similar to the number of killed chickens. However, if the estimate by Mood et al. is correct, then the daily death count is almost twice as high.

    These estimates refer to the number of farmed fish only; they do not include wild aquatic animals that are caught and killed for human consumption.

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Hannah Ritchie, Pablo Rosado and Max Roser (2023) - “Animal Welfare” Published online at Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]

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    author = {Hannah Ritchie and Pablo Rosado and Max Roser},
    title = {Animal Welfare},
    journal = {Our World in Data},
    year = {2023},
    note = {}
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