Before reading about the absolute horrible way chickens are being
treated in the egg industry, please check out my Animal
Facts Chickens page to learn more about these wonderful animals.
Chickens are among the most abused animals in our food
industry. There are very few laws in place that protect them. Chickens
exploited for their eggs are called "layers".
Being Born in the Egg Industry
Chickens usually start out their life being born inside
drawers of huge incubators at a hatchery.
Chicks Born at a Hatchery
Unwanted male chicks in a dumpster behind a hatchery.
Some of them are still alive and struggling to survive.
After being born, they are sorted. Male chicks are
considered useless in the egg industry, since they come from selective
egg-laying strains, which are not suitable for meat production. They are
discarded by being gassed, ground up alive or thrown into plastic bags or
One research scientist observed chicks being ground up and
said that "even after twenty seconds, there were only partly damaged animals
with whole skulls". With their skulls still intact, they were fully
conscious and left to die a slow and agonizing death. Other eyewitnesses
have told similar stories of chicks being slowly dismembered by machinery
Battery Cage Hens
The great majority of all "layers" are
kept in battery cages. Usually 5 hens have to share a cage measuring 18
by 20 inches. Their living conditions are so stressful that their laying
span lasts only about 1-2 years instead of the normal 15-20 years.
When her egg laying rate drops, she is
considered "spent". "Spent" hens are either killed or force molted.
Force molting involves being kept in complete darkness without food or
water to shock their systems into another egg laying cycle.
Hens in battery cages.
Being confined to an overcrowded cage also causes excessive pecking.
To avoid the hens from injuring each other, they are "debeaked",
which means that part of their beaks are cut off.
Hens in battery cages are unable to
exercise. Since laying eggs also takes a lot of calcium out of their bodies,
they have weak and brittle bones and often suffer fractures. This causes
them a lot of additional pain and distress.
Bone factures also occur frequently when the hens are
removed from their cages and transported for slaughter.
Chickens are unable to exercise in battery
On top of the cages lies a died chicken.
Some people switch to "free-range" eggs when they find
out about battery cages and don't want to support that industry.
"Free-range" however, does not mean at all that the chickens are treated
well. Generally "free-range" means that the animals are not kept in
cages. However, they are commonly confined indoors, sometimes in very
crowded conditions. Practices like "debeaking" and force molting can
also be found on "free-range" farms.
Just like any other industry, "free-range" farms have
to make a profit. Male chicks are still useless and discarded. Another
problem chicken farmers deal with is the transportation of eggs. Since
eggs are usually transported by trucks, egg farmers need their eggs to
have a certain firmness. Chickens start to lay less less firm eggs after
about one year, causing the eggs to break sooner during transport. For
this reason, egg-laying chickens are slaughtered at about one year of
age, sometimes two. "Free-Range" chickens are transported and slaughtered the
same way non-"free-range" chickens are.
Spent Hens at the Slaughterhouse
When the layer hens
reach the slaughterhouse, they are removed from their crates and hung
upside down by their feet while fully conscious. First their heads
will be dragged through a bath of electrically charged water, rendering
most of them unconscious. They are then taken to an automatic neck
cutter, where they are bled. After that they go to a scalding tank,
which makes it easier to pluck them.
Some chickens are still
fully conscious after the electrical bath, especially when the
slaughterhouse doesn't use a sufficient stunning current. When their
necks are cut, they don't always cut both carotid arteries, which are
the major blood supplies to the brain. This means that there are still
chickens who are fully conscious when they enter the scalding tank.
Chicken Transported to the
When you buy eggs - "free-range" or not - you support an
industry that exploits and abuses chickens in an absolutely horrifying
For More Information please check out: