Battery Cages Are Hell On Earth For Chickens

New regulations force egg producers to change their ways

Battery Egg Farm
These hens are forced to live in confinement. Farm Sanctuary

 In an article published in the Huffington Post, writer and longtime animal rights activist Bruce Friedrich points out that of all the factory farmed animals, chickens may have it the worst because they suffer in battery cages. He describes battery cages as being so small that the chickens, three or four to a cage, cannot even spread their wings. This confinement causes a wasting of the hens’ muscles and bones.

After about two years of confinement, the hens bones re easily broken as they are “ripped from their cages.” United Poultry Concerns  describes the life of a hen in a battery cage, which is about 67 square inches "The modern hen laying eggs for human consumption is ...an anxious, frustrated, fear-ridden bird forced to spend 10 to 12 months squeezed inside a small wire cage with three to eight or nine other tormented hens amid tiers of identical cages in gloomy sheds holding 50,000 to 125,000 debeaked, terrified, bewildered birds. By nature an energetic forager, she should be ranging by day, perching at night, and enjoying cleansing dust baths with her flock mates--a need so strong that she pathetically executes "vacuum" dust bathing on the wire floor of her cage." The torture of these sentient creatures is outlined a report entitled An HSUS Report: A Comparison of the Welfare of Hens in Battery Cages and Allternative Systems.

In 2015, The Humane Society of the United States announced that some restaurants, including McDonalds, Nestle, and Burger King have agreed to stop buying eggs and chickens from farms where chickens are kept in a battery cage.  The HSUS referred to this agreement as a “watershed moment” and are claiming victory in the battle for more humane manners of keeping factory-farmed animals.

Some animal advocates support cage-free eggs, but many activists advocate a plant-based diet because even cage-free eggs are cruel and exploitative, no matter how well the chickens are treated. Exploited animals kept and killed for human consumption can never be tolerated no matter how well the animals are treated.

The HSUS counters this argument by pointing out that fast food restaurants purchase over two billion eggs every year. These eggs are harvested from chickens living in battery cages. With this change, millions of chickens will be freed from the horror of battery cages. As they put it: “These eight million animals will be able to walk inside a barn, spread their wings, perch, lay their eggs in nests, and engage in other important natural behaviors denied to caged hens.”

But this victory is not celebrated by all. Many activists feel that by accepting these changes as a good thing, they are tacitly condoning the very idea of animals being kept for human consumption. Activists and activist organizations such as Compassion over Killing are more concerned with stopping the slaughter and consumption of animals and animal products, not making life better for the animals. Their undercover investigations and promotion of restaurants such as Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts for their vegan offerings is their modus operandi.

Education is a priority for COK and to that end they encourage pledges to go vegetarianvegetarian festivalseducational videos and Meatless Mondays  as being more effective campaigns in saving animals on factory farms by converting carnivores to vegans.

United Poultry Concerns founder and director Karen Davis is concerned that the words "free range" and "cage free" suggest that the animals are living in wide, open spaces as opposed to battery cages. But these words are deceiving because the animals are, in fact, still in crowded and inhumane conditions and their slaughter is particularly barbaric. She is dedicated to getting chickens and hens off America's menus altogether. They have decreed May 4th as International Respect for Chickens Day and are asking supporters to "Please do an action for chickens in May!" Some of the actions Davis suggest include leafletting on a corner, calling in a radio show, ordering posters, brochures and other educational kits and merchandise from their website.