Animals under Automatic Management: Past, Present and Future

Tsovel, Ariel. "Automatically Managed Animals, Past, Present and Future." Animals and Society 47 (December 2012): 55-68. (Hebrew full article)


The broadest and most intensive connection between human and nonhuman animals occurs within the agricultural framework. Each year, tens of millions of animals worldwide are exploited in agriculture, and they are dominated more thoroughly than the victims of any other exploitative relationship.

Following the increase in the number of farmed animals and the worsening crowding conditions., automatic devices have become a significant factor in the interrelationship between farmers and the animals they control. The early automatic devices were intended as substitutes for the distribution of food and water in separate containers or the removal of accumulated manure by a farmhand. During the 20th century, these small devices were united into a single system, functioning simultaneously throughout an entire large facility. These systems became responsible for distributing food and water, clearing away manure, lighting, climate control and other tasks. The introduction of computers into farms has enabled all these functions to become interconnected by means of a single control system, and control of the animals has become more immediate and accurate than ever before. The presence of humans on the farm is remained necessary only for more complex tasks, such as analysing animal behaviour and providing individual treatments, albeit these tasks too are beginning to be transferred to automatic diagnosis and robotic implementation.

The increasing automatization has contributed to further growth of farms, additional crowding of animals, and further distancing of workers from the farm. Surprisingly, the process leading to complete alienation between humans and "farm animals", as well as to their increased exploitation, owes much to technological attempts to solve problems deriving from inadequate treatment of animals in stressful conditions.