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Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade.There are differences in the way factory farming techniques are practiced around the world.According to the BBC, the era factory farming per se in Britain began in 1947 when a new Agriculture Act granted subsidies to farmers to encourage greater output by introducing new technology, in order to reduce Britain's reliance on imported meat.The United Nations writes that "intensification of animal production was seen as a way of providing food security." From its American and West European heartland factory farming became globalised in the later years of the 20th century and is still expanding and replacing traditional practices of stock rearing in an increasing number of countries.The major milestone in 20th century poultry production was the discovery of vitamin D, which made it possible to keep chickens in confinement year-round.
In the late 1950s, egg prices had fallen so dramatically that farmers typically tripled the number of hens they kept, putting three hens into what had been a single-bird cage or converting their floor-confinement houses from a single deck of roosts to triple-decker roosts.
For 2002-2003, FAO estimates of industrial production as a percentage of global production were 7 percent for beef and veal, 0.8 percent for sheep and goat meat, 42 percent for pork, and 67 percent for poultry meat.
Industrial production was estimated to account for 39 percent of the sum of global production of these meats and 50 percent of total egg production.
During the same period, the number of people involved in farming dropped as the process became more automated.
In the 1930s, 24 percent of the American population worked in agriculture compared to 1.5 percent in 2002; in 1940, each farm worker supplied 11 consumers, whereas in 2002, each worker supplied 90 consumers.
Its supply was less than the demand, and poultry was expensive.