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The Battle Against the Egg Industry

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"There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is." - Isaac Bashevis . [1]

The average egg production facilities can house upwards of a million birds, which poses a problem when it comes to space.

In order to maximise space and provide efficient production, the cages themselves are stacked like steps, one on top of the other. The only advantage the hens on the top row have is that they do not receive a steady rain of faeces. Although most of the faeces fall into a pit below the cages, many hens were found to be in an unsanitary condition.

Since the hens are kept at seven per cage, it becomes difficult for them to manoeuvre, let alone perform their natural function, which is to produce eggs. But this issue is one of several that are worrisome.

The claustrophobic environment, lack of sunlight and dirty conditions have a Washington, D.C. based organisation in a race to provide a better environment for the hens.

Compassion Over Killing, a non-profit organisation founded in 1995, works primarily to investigate and expose abuses of the meat, egg, and dairy industries. Farm animals are the major focus for COK, but since fowl make up more than 95% of the farm livestock eaten in the U.S., there is generally a stronger focus on egg industry.

Not all of the poultry are egg-laying hens, however. Most are broiler chickens that are used for consumption. There are about 280 million egg-laying hens, as compared to the staggering 9 billion broiler chickens or more, slaughtered annually in the U.S.

Featured in over a hundred media outlets, including Fox News, New York Times, and The Washington Post, COK has managed to expose three major egg farms: ISE-America, County Fair Farms, and Red Bird Egg Farms in the last two years alone.

Their discovery included countless dead hens in cages where live hens were left to watch. Hens trapped within the wires of their cages, some alive, some dead. Most showed a great deal of suffering as they were dehydrated and only mere inches away from water.

The hens who managed to escaped from their cages, were found wandering around the sheds, some falling into manure pits. Many showed signs of infection, growths and other serious health problems.

"When you look through the photo galleries of our investigation sites, you can see that the scenes are not easy to bear witness to", the organisation's campaign director, *Paul Shapiro expressed. He went on to say, "However, we can leave those factory farms whenever we want -- the animals can't. It's our job to expose their misery to the public in the hopes that more people will remove their financial support from the egg industry". [2]

Forced Moulting

Hens are typically forced to moult to increase egg production. This process involves starving the chickens of natural daylight, restriction food and water. Aside from the obvious sanitary issues, this "forced moulting" has been shown to increase our risk of contracting salmonella poisoning from the eggs and hens themselves.

According to the Journal of Applied Poultry Research, the withdrawal of feed from commercial egg production hens leads to a conventional moult within a 10 day feed withdrawal. Restricting and/or eliminating feed from the hens - something we consider "starvation", is the industry's method of choice when it comes to inducing a hen's moulting state. [3]

Artificially manipulating this natural process, forces hens to lay eggs for up to 10 months. This non-stop production, is then followed by slaughter when the hens are no longer considered useful.

Further Abuses

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Anai Rhoads is a Human Rights journalist originally from Athens, Greece. Her work has been featured on several web-based newspapers and media outlets, which include ZMagazine,, and Media Monitors. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief (more...)
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