How Eggs are Made in the United States

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chickens living on factory farms endure suffering described as “staggering,” according to an undercover investigation carried out by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). An HSUS investigator spent two months working inside four different factory farms, owned by two of the nation’s largest egg producers, Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises, and witnessed industry practices “that are simply rotten.”

Among the cruelties found were birds with broken bones from rough handling or prolapsed uteruses (or “blow-outs”). Other conditions included chickens being trampled in cramped cages, unable to reach food or water and slowly dying, or manure pits left unattended for up to two years, causing blindness for birds as a result of excessive ammonia levels.
HSUS also examined conditions at cage-free farms, where life is better for chickens but not necessarily cruelty-free. Birds are able to walk, spread their wings and lay eggs in nests. But cage-free farms buy their hens from the same hatcheries that supply battery-cage farms—hatcheries that kill more than 200 million male chicks each year. Cage-free hens also have part of their beaks burned off, and they are slaughtered at less than two years old.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Appalling Cruelties at Nation’s Top Egg Producers (Humane Society of the United States)
Cage-Free vs. Battery-Cage Eggs (Humane Society of the United States)


JustTheFacts 10 years ago
Don't know what kind of 'peace hens' you had, LMajito, but it's well-known that even cage-free hens will peck each other. I have a friend who is big proponent of 'cruelty free,' so she bought some laying hens. They are kept in a chicken coop, allowed outdoors during the day, and locked up, but loose, in the coop at night for their own safety. She was really surprised when she had hens picking on (pecking) one of the other hens; she thought being 'kind' to them would eliminate 'behavior problems.' We had approx. a dozen laying hens when I was young. After safely keeping them in a windowed, enclosed barn stall, we kids succeeded in badgering my parents to let them 'free range' outdoors where the hens were picked off one-by-one by disease, neighborhood dogs, and other predators. Our hens pecked at each other, too; I didn't remember it, either, but my mother affirms it.
tfarmer44 10 years ago
You get even more mortality from pasture raise hens. Foxes, coyotes, dogs, raccoons, & possums will go after hens and kill and eat them. Pasture hens get even higher instances of parasites and avian diseases. I have been doing this for 24 years and part of a family farm that has been doing it for over eight decades and have gone from barn yard flocks to caged birds.
john 10 years ago
forget caged AND cage free - it's all about PASTURE Raised. You won't find pasture raised eggs in your supermarket. Support your LOCAL family owned and operated-pasture raised - egg producers.
LMajito 10 years ago
i don't know what this farmer is making note of, but all mi adolescent life we had hens and a rooster...never i saw the girls going at each other or pecking among themselves...the rooster was the one that will attack anything that will come into 'his domain'... again we did not have thousands of birds per acre so that must count for something...after reading this post, my taste for chicken and eggs is going to be affected
tfarmer44 10 years ago
Cage free hens have three to four times the mortality of caged birds. I have worked with egg laying hens (layers) all my life in both caged and uncaged. People do not understand hens. They are very territorial, they have cannibalistic traits, their eyesight is very keen to the color red, and will scratch and peck feed or feces (what ever is on the ground). In a cage free they are pecking on each other a lot for territory rights. They draw blood on a hen then they go after the blood and the hen until the hen is down and dead. Cage free production is not the way to go for food safety. Hens peck at the ground all the time eating feces. Is very common for them to get a parasite called cocci that has to be treated with a coccidiostat (yes a drug, typically Amprol). Hens are worse off in a cage free system. It is also less green because they eat about 12% more feed and take up about 33% more land space. And all of this for less production of about 8% less than caged birds. Put up a camera in a cage free system. You think the gangs in the inter cities are see a lot of beaten up hens in cage free systems. Caged birds set their pecking order in a matter of days in their cage. They have better production. Happier hens lay more eggs and higher quality eggs. Their feces passed through to the pit. This keeps the eggs cleaner from feces too (food safety). They have a better diet than most Americans do. Caged birds systems are greener and feed many more people on less carbon footprint. Egg farmers in the United States do a very good job overall. Provide a safe and high quality product. More protein for less money. They do a good job environmentally and feed a lot of people with a high quality, low cost product.

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