Photojournalist awarded prize for undercover investigations on animal exploitation

Aitor Garmendia has been awarded the Picture of the Year International for his photographic report on undercover investigations in farms.

The photojournalist scooped the prestigious gong after a photo series uncovering the hardships and appalling conditions that animals have to endure inside factory farms.

Garmendia spent two weeks undercover in Northern Italy with Essere Animali – one of the most active European organisations – entering secretly into farms.

This is the second time that Garmendia’s work on animal exploitation has been awarded the Picture Of the Year, following the success of his series Slaughterhouse, which exposed more than fifty Mexican slaughterhouses.

To avoid the accumulation of dust, high temperatures and toxic gases, large fans and grilles are used in chicken farms that open or close automatically. In this farm located in the province of Ferrara, an activist takes advantage of the opening of one of the grids to check the condition of the animals.

 

The life of a chicken raised for fattening is only 45 days and a modern farm can house more than 30,000 chickens in a single poultry shed. Due to their rapid growth resulting from careful genetic selection, many of them suffer from disorders in their skeleton and can barely stand. The droppings are not collected until the chickens are sent to the slaughterhouse and they remain scattered in the farm producing ammonia permanently, which is a chemical agent that causes chronic respiratory diseases, bronchitis, dermatitis and even blindness. This image has been taken through the grids of a fan.

 

Two activists document the maternity area of ​​a pig farm located in the province of Ravenna. Sows remain immobilized in these iron frames for four weeks nursing their calves. The goal in this phase is to avoid the crushing of the piglets, for this the sow is immobilized in this frame in a way that makes it impossible for her to turn around or interact with her calves naturally. This phase is repeated cyclically until the sows productivity stops being profitable.

 

The purpose of the fattening area is to fatten the pigs at the shortest possible time and the lowest cost. Due to the harsh living conditions that pigs have to face in this phase, cannibalism takes place. In the image, an investigator from Essere Animali documents a fattening shed in a farm located in the province of Brescia.

 

Two investigators from Essere Animali inside a laying hen farm in the province of Lodi, Italy. Genetic selection and environmental manipulation are responsible for having doubled the production of eggs per hen in 70 years – from 150 eggs per year in the 30s to more than 300 today – with dire consequences. Many hens, which cannot absorb all the necessary calcium for the eggs they produce, are decalcified and end up suffering from broken bones, acute osteoporosis and paralysis. In the European Union more than half of laying hens spend their entire lives in cages where they can never see the sunlight.

 

Egg-laying hen in a industrial farm in the province of Lodi, Italy. Genetic selection and environmental manipulation are responsible for having doubled the production of eggs per hen in 70 years – from 150 eggs per year in the 30s to more than 300 today – with dire consequences. Its reproductive system works beyond its physiological possibilities and many hens, which cannot absorb all the necessary calcium for the eggs they produce, are decalcified and end up suffering from broken bones, acute osteoporosis and paralysis. In the European Union more than half of laying hens spend their entire lives in cages where they never see sunlight.

 

Eggs in a farm of laying hens in the province of Lodi, Italy. Genetic selection and environmental manipulation are responsible for having doubled the production of eggs per hen in 70 years – from 150 eggs per year in the 30s to more than 300 today – with dire consequences. Its reproductive system works beyond its physiological possibilities and many hens, which cannot absorb all the necessary calcium for the eggs they produce, are decalcified and end up suffering from broken bones, acute osteoporosis and paralysis. In the European Union more than half of laying hens spend their entire lives in cages where they never see sunlight.

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