For most people there is a significant disconnect between the eggs we eat and the chickens from which they come. We don’t often think about how the eggs we eat are produced. After all, they are just eggs—how bad can it be? Pretty bad, actually.
In today’s U.S. factory farms, more than 280 million egg-laying hens are confined in small wire crates called “battery cages.” Eight to ten chickens are commonly packed into one battery cage, where each hen is only given space equaling less than the size of a sheet of paper. This means a lifetime of stress and injuries such as severe feather loss, bruising, abrasions, and broken bones. These traumatizing conditions also cause immense suffering from mental and emotional distress, along with numerous long term health effects. Even more appalling, chickens in egg factories are “debeaked”—the cruel practice of cutting to remove part of their very sensitive beaks—in an attempt to prevent pecking injuries.
The grim life of a battery cage hen is far from that which is natural for a chicken. These gentle birds are smart, highly social, and form lifelong bonds. In nature, chickens enjoy exploring, foraging for food, perching and dust bathing.
So, how can we help? Even the smallest changes have a big impact. To start, check the cartons at the grocery store to make sure you are buying eggs from a farm that practices cage-free cultivation. The farms will almost always feature this fact on their cartons. Next, join PAWS in supporting H.R. 3798— legislation that Congress is considering which would improve the lives of hundreds of millions of egg-laying hens by mandating much larger minimum spaces as well as the provision of environmental enrichments to enable the hens to express natural behaviors. Finally, go to PAWS.org for more information on how you can help egg-laying hens and other animals.
By nature, chickens enjoy exploring, foraging for food, perching and dust bathing.