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.)
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??
If you ask me, Friday's are pretty sweet... after all, it's almost the weekend. But this week we've got a plan to make Friday even sweeter.
This Friday (14th October) is World Egg Day... I know, I know... you're thinking "What could be sweet about a day celebrating an industry that locks 11 million hens in cages with less space per bird than an A4 sheet of paper, that kills hens who aren't producing enough eggs (usually at around 18months of age) and that kills about 12 million male chicks on their first day of life - simply because they weren't born female, and so can't produce eggs?" ... like this:
... but hold up a sec, and I'll tell you what we have in mind.
This Friday, we'd like to invite you to join us in protesting the egg industry's cruelty to chickens in just about the tastiest way we know how... by baking a delicious egg-free cake!
And by sharing your cruelty-free cake with friends (I know it's hard :P), you can show them just how sweet making a difference for chickens can be!
So, what are you going to bake this Friday for World Egg-Free Day?
P.S. You can also spread the word about World Egg-Free Day by making the image below your facebook profile pic in the lead up to Friday. (Right click on the image to download and save the file ('save image as'), upload it to Facebook and make it your new profile pic. Then tag all your friends, to grab their attention!)
Every now and then you see a clip that really makes you stop and think. This is undoubtedly one of them:
It's not every day that you'd get such a short vid that manages to get in so many shocking elements in such an effective way.
From the bacon slices to the roast chicken, the eggs, the milk and even the mayonnaise, this talented film maker has provided a voice for pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens and dairy cows in just 30 seconds. All the while flickering this important line "You may be blind to this but you're the only voice they've got".
And the final sound of an innocent sheep crying really brings home the point that we must use our voices to help end the suffering of these exploited animals.
Thanks so much to Brett Ludeman from Storybottle for creating such a haunting vid for Unleashed, and for showing others the reality of their dinner or their cup of milky coffee.
What do you think of this ultra short film? Do you know anyone who would be blind to this? You could share the video and help them open up their eyes and their ears and use their voice to help animals.
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?
Whenever Easter is upon us I start thinking of the usual suspects: rabbits and chickens (although what a rabbit has to do with eggs I'm still trying work out!). I've not had a lot to do with bunnies but chooks hold a firm place in my heart, even though they're sometimes referred to as ...well, bird brains!
A study last year proved that chickens are in fact, incredibly clever. So much so that they have different calls for things like food, and because of this females are more likely to choose their mates based on intelligence (ie "how good is he at finding food and then telling me about it?")
I already knew that chooks are pretty special, and this was confirmed during a nutrition assignment I did two years ago at Uni. Each group had 20 day old chicks (10 boys and 10 girls) that had been bred for the meat industry (called broiler chickens). We were to feed them, weigh them, assess their health, etc every day for 6 weeks, even on weekends. I knew what their fate was at the end of the project so I offered to take ours home. I knew I could find homes for 20 chooks and probably even more. But my supervisor told me it was pointless. You see broiler chickens can't live past 7 weeks even if they aren't sent to slaughter.
After years of selective breeding for fast growth, these baby birds were growing at an epic rate right before our eyes. Meat chickens now grow three times faster than normal. By 6 weeks old they are the size of fully grown birds, only they are still babies, chirping and struggling to move their massive bodies using underdeveloped baby legs.
That was a very tough 6 weeks for me. These birds got to know us and were friendly and funny. One girl would even run to the edge of the cage when she saw us coming, so sweet. Number 5 was her name. Isn't that cold? Number 5.
During the project, two of our birds died. One boy had a blocked crop (the part on their throat where the food gets kind of ground up and digested), possibly after he'd accidently swallowed some sawdust from the floor litter, so he kept eating as his crop became huge and his body became malnourished. He was starving and we knew he wouldn't get better without medical treatment. But that would involve putting him on different feeds, which would ruin the project data, God forbid. Eventually a uni worker 'euthanised' him by chopping his head off. Imagine if we euthanised our pets this way! The second boy flipped onto his back while I was refilling the feed one day. His wings flapped frantically, slamming the cage floor as I desperately called for help. Then he just stopped and lay still. His young overworked heart had given out under the immense weight of his mutant body. He was finally at peace, and I stroked him goodbye through tears.
By week 6 of the project, Number 5 didn't run to greet us anymore. She couldn't. She could hardly move at all. Not even to reach the feeders or the water trays which were actually moved up higher and higher to encourage the chicks to stand. But it was just too painful for her. It was almost like the feeder trays were mocking our hungry friend.
The final day was the worst. The girls in my group and I picked up our birds lovingly and held them to us, saying "goodbye" and "sorry" as we moved them into the trays that would be stacked on top of each other on the back of a truck. We sobbed the whole time. It was a sunny day and the birds squinted at the huge ball of fire in the sky that they'd never seen before. They wouldn't see it for long. The truck drove off to the slaughterhouse, with our beautiful clever birds on board, Number 5 wondering where she was off to on this cramped bumpy ride and wondering what kind people would be there when she arrived. Even the sickest birds were on there, weak from hunger, joints aching, some with newly blocked crops. I cried as much as I've ever cried before as white baby bird feathers flew past my face and the truck rattled down the road.
I'd already stopped eating chicken years before this happened. But I decided then and there that I couldn't eat eggs either. Even though our birds weren't layer hens, I knew I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the exploitation of an amazing species I now loved. And that certainly meant no more eggs. (I've since discovered so much horror behind eggs!)
So these new research findings are nothing new to me. Chickensare truly incredible birds full of personality and love. And they are anything but "bird brains"!
If you must decorate an egg this Easter, use papier mache and paint away! Or buy a dairy-free chocolate egg and tie a ribbon around it in tribute to the millions of intelligent chickens that suffer and die for meat and eggs in Australia each year.
There's a new legend in town! New Zealander, Carl Scott is at this very moment, sitting alone in a tiny cage next to a highway, and he plans to stay there for a whole month!
Why? To shine the spotlight on the cruel treatment of chickens kept in battery cages for their eggs (yes, sadly the situation in NZ is not much different to Australia). Now that's commitment!
The space he's living in for the next month is less than two metres across, 130cm high (he can't even stand up!) and even includes his toilet. Yet Carl would be the first to tell you that despite these cramped conditions he's still got it way better than the average chook (let's call her Betty).
To start with, Betty doesn't have her own cage; she has to share it with up to 5 other birds, with less than the space of an A4 piece of paper for each to live in . She can't even flap her wings!
Betty's cage is one of thousands of cages, stacked in rows - up to four cages high. Living in the bottom row, she is showered with waste from hens locked in cages above hers.
Betty has lost many of the feathers that would keep her warm from constantly rubbing against the wire of the cage. If Betty isn't living in chronic pain from an untreated broken bone, then stats suggest that at least one of her cagemates is. 
For virtually her entire life, she has been locked in this tiny cage in a windowless shed. The short time before she was put in this cage was no more pleasant. During that time the tip of her beak was sliced off with a hot iron, without any pain relief.
Even if Betty survives life in this miserable cage, her only 'reward' for producing eggs will be death. When she no longer lays enough eggs to be 'profitable', she will be trucked off to slaughter with her cage-mates (before her second birthday), without ever knowing the simple joys of dustbathing, perching or building her own nest.
There is absolutely no doubt that chickens in battery cages endure a life of hell. None of us would want to trade places with them. Which makes Carl's demonstration all the more heroic. Carl, you're a legend!
If you don't think any person or animal should be forced to live this way, have your say for chickens in New Zealand here and chickens in Australia here.
Do you think you could spend a month in a cage for the cause?
Ref  Parkinson G (1993), "Osteoporosis and bone fractures in the laying hen", Progress report of work at the Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Attwood
The new year is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. So we hope that the animals have made it onto your resolution list! If not, then we've got a few suggestions for how you could make a world of difference for animals and the planet in the new year:
Pledge to take animals off your plate. All animals - cats, dogs, pigs, lambs and even fish! - are individuals with feelings and their own desires and as the actor James Cromwell said, "I don't eat anyone who would run, swim, or fly away if he could."
If you think animals rock, but need a little added incentive to
take that next step, then this film should give you the extra motivation you're looking for:
Already meat-free and lovin' it? Great! Then how about taking the next step and giving dairy and eggs the flick?
Sadly, the milk and egg industries aren't without their body count - and it's the babies of these industries who are the first casualties. About 12 million day old male chicks and a million unwanted baby calves from the dairy industry are discarded and killed as 'waste products' each year. And even dairy cows and egg laying hens don't get to live a full life. When they are no longer productive enough to be profitable, they too find themselves on the way to be slaughtered.
So you're meat-free, don't do dairy and set a good eggsample by not eating eggs? Awesome! Then next year make your voice heard, even louder, for the animals!
So that's our tips for the new year. Now... what are your new year's resolutions?
This is making headline news around the world: After 4 year old tabby cat, Lola, greeted Mary Bale in the street for a quick pat, Mary grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and shoved her into a wheelie bin before walking away. Lola was trapped inside the bin for 15 hours. Luckily, this was all caught on film, otherwise Lola may never have been found!
After the footage was posted on Facebook, people worldwide have been outraged that anyone could do such a thing to a defenceless animal.
Surely throwing an animal into a wheelie bin, any bin, and leaving him or her to die is illegal ... well ... it depends on the animal ...
We know that eggs come from hens and that hens are female. So when one hen stops laying eggs, she gets replaced with another ...female. All the egg industry needs are female birds to keep clucking along.
What happens to a chick if he's born a male? Unfortunately, he ends up in the bin. But the difference here is that when male chicks are thrown into bins at hatcheries across the globe, there are no security cameras filming the people responsible, no one will come to their rescue. Every year in Australia alone, an estimated 12 million day old baby birds are either ground up alive or tossed into a bin on top of their brothers to be gassed to death... and this is legal!
See for yourself what happens inside the world's largest hatchery (the same thing happens here):
No animal (furry or feathered) deserves to be tossed into a bin and left for dead. Fortunately, we can all take a stand against this cruelty by giving eggs the flick. No yolk, it's easy as vegan pie!
It reads like a news headline doesn't it? No doubt when people realise that the animal products they consume are literally killing them, it will be a headline. Anyway, this is the story of Rocco – a meat-lovin' cowboy from Arizona who was literally eating himself into a grave.
Rocco's 53 years old, but had the heart of an 85 year old. He's overweight and severely diabetic.
Rocco appeared on the TV show The Dr. Oz Show with the wish to change his life. After some clinical assessments, Dr. Oz recommended that Rocco should go vegan for 28 days to see how dramatically his health improves.
When The Dr. Oz Show checked in with Rocco after 28 days, it's clear that his health improved dramatically after going vegan. He dropped his waist size by more than 15cm, his glucose count went from 172 to 99, and his good cholesterol (HDL) increased. Just by looking at Rocco, you can see the difference in his life since going vegan.
But this isn't just one instance. There are stories everywhere of people who have gone vegan and experienced improved health (including myself, a reformed McDonaldsCruelty lover). So the proof really is in the (vegan) pudding folks. Next time you see Sam Neill misleading orang-utans on TV about how great meat is, throw a pickle at the screen for me.
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.
You may remember a couple of months ago I posted an illustration by Donn Pattendon of a dairy cow drinking Australia dry. This last week Donn sent through yet another stellar illustration and I just had to share. This time he's set his sights on battery eggs. And well it really speaks for itself...
Once again, Donn's illustration is spot on. With less than the area of an A4 piece of paper to live in battery hens really are treated like little more than vending machines. You may notice there are even a few dead male chicks swept under the machine.
There are around 14 million egg-laying hens in Australia. That's a lot of birds! ... and all of them are female. So have you ever wondered what happened to all the males?
Male chicks can't produce eggs ... so the egg industry doesn't want them. They don't grow fast or large enough to be profitable to be raised for meat, so ... what then?
Well a new investigation by US based group, Mercy for Animals exposes the dirty little secret the egg industry doesn't want you to know. Brace yourself, cause the answer isn't pretty...
You might hope that Australian standards would be better. But sadly that's not the case. Every year, the Australian egg industrygrinds up alive or gasses to death an estimated 10 million male chicks. For these animals their first day in the world is also their last. They are picked up roughly by their fragile wings, tossed into disposal chutes and hauled off to their death.
Sounds more like a horror movie than reality, doesn't it. But sadly this is not only a reality, it's legal and is standard practice in Australia across all egg laying systems.
So what can you do about it? Well for starters you can cast your vote with your plate, simply don't eat eggs! And please join me in letting the Australian Egg Corporation know that you won't support their appalling disregard for animal welfare.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a stall at the Petacular pet expo in Brisbane. The wonderful volunteer, Kate, offered to bake vegan cupcakes for the day... So of course we said yes yes yes!
The cupcakes looked and tasted amazing! Not surprisingly, they went down a treat and many a cupcake muncher marvelled at the fact that no animals were harmed in the making of these delectible treats.
When highlighting the cruelty of the egg and dairy industries, nothing promotes cruelty free living quite like cupcake goodness. So it's time, as Kate would say, to "share the cupcake love"!
This cupcake concoction was even given the thumbs up by punk heroes Propagandhi. Kate's hubby plays in the Brissie band Bad Day Down, who supported Propagandhi on their recent visit to Australia. On tour, Kate soon assumed the role of official cupcake cooker. But she isn't just a superstar in the kitchen. Check out this photo of her singing on stage with Propagandhi at their Melbourne show. (btw, keep your eyes out for more from us on Propagandhi soon)
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.