You probably already know what a battery cage looks like from the outside. But can you imagine what it must be like trapped on the INSIDE?? Find out with this interactive simulation which puts YOU in the cage. Step inside ...
What'd you think? Awful, isn't it? And yet that is what battery hens in factory farms experience for every minute of their entire lives. On average, a battery hen will spend up to two years in a cage like that - with no stimulation, no fresh air, no dirt beneath their feet. After two years, these hens produce less eggs then they used to, so they're gotten rid of - trucked to the slaughterhouse.
It doesn't seem fair, does it? It's not like people even need to eat eggs - check out the alternatives that are all readily available.
Wanna know more about hens trapped in factory farms? Then spend just two minutes watching this.
You can rage against cages with over 60,000 other Aussies who have already taken the Make it Possible pledge. Join them to make the world a kinder place for animals.
P.S. Want to know what the labels on egg cartons really mean for hens (and chicks)? Then grab this handy chart for the fridge at home.
If you wanted to know the full story about where cage eggs come from - where would you go for the info? A website set up by the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd (AECL)? Or would you ask an imaginary green man named Gumby from the 1950s? If you chose the imaginary Gumby, you'd be ... CORRECT!
In case you don't know, Gumby was a plasticine man (thing?) on the telly from the 1950s right through to the 1980s. Him and his mates (including a talking horse and a dinosaur that drives a car) spent each episode getting crazy and generally having a good time. Now believe it or not, but it seems Gumby is more interested in schooling people about the reality of cage eggs than the AECL are! Check out this episode of Gumby where the Blockheads kidnap his friend Tilly (who is a chicken. Yes, Gumby is friends with a chicken - legend.)
Here's what Gumby got right about cage egg production:
Hens will never feel the sun on their feathers.
They're confined to cages their entire lives, with no chance for exercise.
Hens suffer broken bones and lameness after spending their lives in a cramped cage.
If a hen stops laying eggs, she's in serious trouble
The most accurate part comes at the 1.41 minute mark though. When Tilly asks where she is, her caged neighbour replies, "This is hell". Pretty heavy stuff for a kids show!
So how does this match up against what the AECL wants you to know about battery hens? On their website about hen welfare, they've listed all the supposed advantages for chickens confined in battery cages. (Remember, the space each bird gets inside these cages is not much larger than an A4 sheet of paper, and chickens spend their ENTIRE lives in there).
1) "If a bird does become sick, cage-based housing makes it easier to identify and remove birds for treatment." That's a touching thought, but I'm not sure that the sick bird at the end of this video would consider her 'treatment' that helpful. And it's not uncommon for birds to die unnoticed in their cage, leaving their cage mates stuck in a cage with their dead body.
2) "Better protection from in-fighting and cannibalism." The reality is hens have the tips of their beaks sliced off to prevent them from pecking at each other in their cramped cage. Since when was cutting bits and pieces off animals to make them fit cruel systems ok?
3) "Protection from the elements and predators like eagles, snakes, foxes and feral cats." But I want to know who's protecting them from factory farmers! Being doomed to a life sentence in a battery cage is no life. They'll never smell fresh air, or even get to properly stretch their wings.
One fact that neither Gumby or the AECL mention, is what happens to all the male chicks in the egg industry (sadly, not just for cage eggs)...
"Hell" pretty much sums it up :(
The simplest way to make sure you aren't supporting chicken cruelty is to go egg-free (or if not, then at the very least ditch cage eggs). Your body doesn't need eggs any more than it needs plasticine and you can find egg replacers at most big supermarkets. You can do your bit to help hens by pledging to make the battery cage history.
(p.s. Want to know what all the other labels on egg cartons really mean for hens (and chicks)? Then grab this handy chart.)
And if that weren't enough reason to jump for joy, there's more...
The Tassie Minister for Agriculture has also announced that they are going to fast track the phase out of pregnant sow crates. You might remember a couple of years ago they committed to getting rid of these cruel crates by 2017... well now they are promising to have 'em gone for good by the middle of next year!
If you've ever written a letter, shared a campaign video or spoken out for battery hens and mother pigs, then give yourself a pat on the back. You've been a part of making history today!
That's one state down, and just a few more to go (don't worry, the first one's always the hardest)...
Across the rest of Australia mother pigs can still be locked in cramped crates, where they can't even turn around. And get this: an estimated one in every six battery hens lives in chronic pain with a broken bone.
Don't you think it's about time the egg industry voluntarily phased out battery cages?!
Here's the deal.. if you want to help hens and pigs around Australia, there are two important emails you can shoot off asap:
Tell Australian Egg Corporation Ltd (AECL) that the writing is on the wall! Tassie is phasing out battery cages, so it's about time they do the right thing and commit to a voluntary phase out of battery cages. Email AECL here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell Australia Pork Ltd (APL) to hurry up! If Tassie can get rid of pregnant sow crates by next year, why can't the rest of Australia? Email APL here: email@example.com
Once you've sent those off it's time to celebrate!
Missy Higgins is the complete package -- a chart-topping musician, a budding actress, and best of all, she practically oozes compassion. As well as releasing her latest (sure-to-be) hit album, Missy has joined forces with Animals Australia to give her beautiful voice to the most abused animals on the planet -- battery hens.
So why is Missy speaking up for hens? Well, in the EU, battery cages have been completely banned. But get this -- in Australia, 12 MILLION hens are still imprisoned in battery cages! Whaaat??
An ex battery hen has won a Braveheart Award from a veterinary clinic in the UK! Angel was struggling to lay an extra large egg when her human companion (and rescuer) Lorraine Fox noticed she had a prolapsed vent.
I hear you asking "What's a prolapsed vent?" Lightning fast biology lesson: Sometimes called "uterine prolapse". If a chicken is attempting to lay an egg that is larger than normal, part of her oviduct (the equivalent of a human female's uterus) can be pushed out as well. As you can imagine, having raw inflamed tissue that should be inside the body exposed outside of the body is extremely painful. (Sorry, if you're a tad squeamish!)
Fortunately, the crook chook was rushed off to the vet straight away. After some very tricky and complicated surgery (called a cloacapexy – there's your new word for the day!), Angel recovered amazingly well and was back to her old self within a day :)
Unfortunately prolapses are actually a fairly common occurrence among laying hens, both in cages and free range. The difference between hens on factory farms in battery cages and Angel, is that Angel now has a loving attentive human companion who noticed that she was sick straight away and raced her to the vet to save her.
Battery hens are almost never this lucky. Stacked in cages up to 4 levels high with up to 5 hens to a cage, it's easy for workers to not notice sick birds. Many birds with prolapsed vents die in agony from infection in their cage and are not discovered for days. If they are discovered, they are likely killed, or worse, simply thrown out live and left for dead. This may have even been Angel's fate had she not already been rescued by Lorraine.
If only every hen was lucky enough to a loving, caring home and friends to look out for them!
Do you know of an animal who deserves a bravery award?
Wow! There was some great news for animals coming out of the US last week. I just wish I could say the same for Australia :(
Last Monday (12 October) Michigan passed a bill that will see the phase out some of the cruelest confinement methods used in the farming industry.
Within 3 years, dairy calves in Michigan will no longer be confined in tiny veal crates and starved of iron to make their flesh pale and soft. Battery cages , used to confine egg-laying hens, and gestation crates used to confine mother pigs, will also be phased out. With these significant improvements for animals Michigan has become the 7th state to ban gestation crates, the 5th to ban veal crates and the 2nd to ban battery cages.
And the good news just keeps coming! California - who have already banned veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages – have added to their list of ‘no-no’s’ tail docking of dairy cows. A good sign from one of the US's largest dairy states, and very good news for the 1.8million dairy cows in California!
While we're on the topic of changes for animals, the city council of Santa Monica (also in California) has voted in favour of drafting new legislation that will restrict animal 'declawing' – ie. the practice of painfully removing animals’ claws.
Meanwhile, over the other side of the world in a little place often known as 'the lucky country', farm animals aren't so lucky. Recently The Greens in ACT (and Tas for that matter) put forward a Bill that would ban battery cages from ACT (meaning only one business would be affected) and the Liberals and Labour teamed up to shoot it down (same story in Tasmania). With the many other parts of the world making huge advances for animals, it is disappointing that Australia is still dragging its feet.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.