LAST UPDATED: 13 April 2016
The space allocated to an individual hen in a cage egg farm is about the size of an iPad. She spends her entire life with her feet pressed against a hard wire floor, with barely enough room to stretch her wings.
When hens are trapped in small cages with several other birds, they become (understandably) frustrated and can take it out on each other. Rather than reducing stress by giving a hen more space, the egg industry cuts part of a newborn chick's beak off, before she is locked into a cage for life. Despite the fact that a chicken's beak contains sensitive nerve endings, this painful procedure is done without any pain relief.
With so many cages, and so many chickens, it's practically impossible for cage egg farmers to care for them all. Sick and injured birds may go untreated, and investigators have even found dead birds left to rot under the feet of their cage-mates.
A lack of exercise, combined with depleted calcium from constant egg-laying, leads to weakened and brittle bones amongst factory farmed hens. And when they're removed from the battery cage, sadly things don't get better — many hens sustain injuries and broken bones when pulled out to be trucked to slaughter.
The term 'manure pit' pretty much speaks for itself. Beneath the tiers of battery cages is a big pit that catches the faeces of the countless stressed out birds above.
A 2014 investigation into a PACE cage egg farm found something moving in the piles and piles of manure ... or rather, someone. Watch this 2 minute video for the shocking discovery:
Hens can be adventurous, shy, social, introverted, mischievous, affectionate and any number of other things. Every hen is a unique individual. But in factory farms, a hen never gets to express her personality. Her only value to farmers is how many eggs she can produce.
If you're not already convinced, this one minute video is all the proof you'll need that chickens are SO much more than egg-laying machines ...
The first time a hen in a cage egg farm will see the outside world — the world she was meant to live in — will be the last day of her life, as she is trucked to the slaughterhouse. Can you imagine a life without sunshine?
But it doesn't have to be like this. Through simple choices we make in the supermarket, each and every one of us has the power to free hens from cages.
While getting hens out of cages will be a big win, if you want to go the extra step for chickens, here's 2 more important facts to consider:
Hens can naturally live up to 10 years, but to the egg industry, a hen ceases to have value the day she can't turn a profit. So from as young as 18 months old, when her egg production slows, she will be packed into a crate and trucked to slaughter. This is true for hens in all commercial egg systems.
Roosters don't lay eggs. So the egg industry has no use for them. But when chickens are hatched (to replace the "spent" ones) naturally around half of the chicks will be male. So what does the egg industry do with the boys? Day old male chicks are gassed or thrown into machines to be ground up alive. This is true of all egg farms including free range and organic.
By cutting down on the eggs you eat, or going egg-free, you can join caring people who are standing up for hens and male chicks. Click here for everything you need to know about eggs and tips on egg-free baking.