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One Way to Stop Animal Cruelty: Cage-Free Chickens, Eggs

Updated on November 28, 2017

WARNING-This won't be pretty

Animal cruelty is out there. If you are an animal lover like me, you don't want any animal to suffer. However, in our commercial farms, severe animal abuse happens on a daily basis. They live in overcrowded conditions, usually in their own filth. Not only is it unhealthy for the animals, it is ultimately unhealthy for us.

Some of these images may be disturbing, but I don't want to sugar-coat this issue. When you pick up your next carton of eggs at the supermarket, you should know how many animals suffered to bring you that food. Also, you should know that you have choices. If you can't raise your own chickens, buy from a local farmer who does. Or buy cage-free or free-range eggs. You can make a difference in how our food is raised and treated!

The Chickens

I didn't set out to be a chicken farmer. It wasn't my dream to grow up and have a bunch of chickens scratching on my lawn.

Yet here they are, scratching and chuckling softly all around my legs as I write this hub. As I watch them, I always feel a little wonder and a midge of pride. In short, they make me smile.

Oh, and they give me some high quality eggs, which is one of the reasons I got them in the first place. I didn't count on enjoying their presence. They are curious little hens, always finding mischief with a side of moth. They even have a sense of humor. The other day, I split their water all over myself, and I swear, they all started chuckling at me.

But still, it's a lot of hassle and work. Cleaning their coop and run is a major project and you have to make sure they are fed and watered regularly, probably several times a day. After you factor the cost of food, bedding, and other upkeep, I'm not really saving any money on eggs.

So why? Well, there are many reasons to raise chickens, but my main reason was this:


Commerical egg layers spend their whole lives in a cage about the size of a bread box.
Commerical egg layers spend their whole lives in a cage about the size of a bread box. | Source

This is legal animal cruelty

My great-grandfather raised chickens and sold their eggs for a living, and he made a decent living too. It got his family through the Great Depression.

His chickens ran around in the great outdoors all day long. The feed was probably organic; I can only assume since they didn't use a lot of chemicals back then. The chickens were treated well because it was his livelihood. They had a symbolic relationship; he took care of them and they gave him eggs to sell. I like to think he was fond of them.

I'm not sure what he would think of the mass production of eggs today. Local farmers have turned into commercial assembly lines. The animals involved are treated with no more respect than the tiny cages they reside in. They are nothing but a resource. The growth hormones they feed the chickens make them produce eggs quicker and faster. Most of these chickens never see the light of day.

If living their lives in a small metal cage isn't bad enough, they get their beaks cut off so they won't peck each other; which they tend to do when in such small confinements.


Chicken being debeaked.
Chicken being debeaked.
Chicken died in her cage; they just pulled it out and laid her there.
Chicken died in her cage; they just pulled it out and laid her there. | Source

Laying machines

So, they live in cages where they can't spread their wings, they get painfully debeaked, and then spend their life laying eggs. Even that behavior is controlled without mercy:

"As the hens age, their egg production naturally slows. To increase production, the hens are forced to molt (shed their feathers) through starvation or the use of low-nutrient food, until 30 percent of their body fat is lost. Then, their original diet is reinstated to restore feather growth, and consequently, egg production." source: http://www.mspca.org/programs/animal-protection-legislation/animal-welfare/farm-animal-welfare/factory-farming/chicken/eggs.html

Most chickens (like mine) can live anywhere from 8 to 25 years. Commercial chickens live until they stop laying (usually 2 years) and then they are inhumanely killed in a slaughterhouse.

It's a horrible existence that I wouldn't wish on any living creature. Yet, most people don't think twice about where their eggs come from.

Happy chickens make better eggs

Ask anyone who has had local eggs and I bet they will confirm this: chickens allowed to roam and not pumped full of chemicals have richer, better tasting eggs.

Are they healthier eggs too? There is some debate on this, but MOST local chicken farmers eagerly boast an nearly or completely organic diet for their chickens. In other words, no pestides or GMO (Genetically modified organisms) in their feed. I would say this is healthier!

What can I do?

There are several things you can do to insure you have healthier eggs from happy chickens:

  • Raise your own chickens. It's not as hard as you think, but I realize it's not for everyone.
  • Buy from local chicken farmers. They aren't hard to find! Check out your local farmer's market, feed store, or even Craigslist.org. And, don't be afraid to ask questions! Make sure the chickens are cage-free or free range, what their diet is, etc. Many local farmers will even invite you on a tour of their farm. This is a great opportunity for kids to see where their food comes from and what good farming practices are!
  • Buy cage-free/free-range eggs from the supermarket. This isn't the best alternative; just because they say "cage-free" or "free-range" doesn't mean they aren't still debeaked or don't live in crowded conditions. However, it's a step in the right direction.


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    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I agree! Thanks for reading!

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      The true options are buying from a local farmer or raising your own. Or stop eating eggs.

    • Audrey Baker profile image

      Audrey Baker 5 years ago from Arizona

      It's awful the way animals are treated. This is good information, I think so many people just aren't aware of the treatment of animals. Voted up. Thank you for increasing awareness. I agree that if enough people take a stand, the farmers will respond.

    • profile image

      Michael Prejean 5 years ago

      What is the difference?

      "Free-Range" Hen

      • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

      • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

      • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

      • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

      • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

      Battery Cage Hen

      • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

      • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

      • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

      • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

      • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

      There is no such thing as humane exploitation

      www.peacefulprairie.org

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      This is a good point, however, just about any restaurant you go to is supporting the industry of animal cruelty in some way. I'm sure the local steakhouse rarely serves grass-fed, non-stockyard beef. Nor do most diners support cage-free eggs. So, the best thing to do is eat only meat and animal products that you know are from "good and humane" farming practices. It's very difficult! But I agree with you. :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Besides mentioning the grocery store, you should also remind your readers that the eggs available at places like McDonalds (all those breakfasts served daily!) are from factory egg layer chickens. Raising your own chickens and then going for an Egg McMuffin means that you are supporting the industry.

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      It's very hard to find meat or animal products in the grocery store that are from humane farming practices. That's why we need to educate ourselves, boycott products, and tell stores what we want. Believe me, if enough people speak out, they will listen! Thanks!

    • Joan King profile image

      Joan King 5 years ago

      As a child we had chickens that produced eggs, the chickens as far as I remember were treated like family, free to roam and return to their coop to simply lay eggs and sleep. Today I no longer eat chickens or eggs because of how they are treated.

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Aviannovice: Amazing, isn't it? Thanks for commenting!

      Micheal Prejean: Thank you for breaking that down for me. It's truly horrific and people just don't want to see it. It makes me very sick and sad.

    • profile image

      Michael Prejean 5 years ago

      "Free-Range" Hen

      • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

      • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

      • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

      • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

      • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

      Battery Cage Hen

      • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

      • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

      • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

      • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

      • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      My eggs for the past 6 months come from my former occupational therapist, who raises them. I noticed the difference in taste immediately.

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Yep, "Food Inc" really opened my eyes. That, coupled with this story I heard: http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid... made me decide to become a backyard chicken farmer. I compost my chicken manure for my garden. It needs to sit for a year or so before use. Thanks for visiting my hub, Suzie O'Neill!

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Great hub! I agree with you completely that all animals should be treated humanely. It's horrible the way that most farm animals are treated these days. There's a fascinating documentary called "Food Inc." It's also disturbing; but they take cameras into modern farms and show us how the animals have been mistreated. They also visit a few organic, free range farms. It's a amazing how differently the animals are treated!

      I would love to have my own chickens, but my yard is way too small. In addition to laying eggs, I've read in gardening books that the birds are helpful because they eat the bugs that would otherwise eat my plants and they provide all natural "fertilizer."

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks for your input, Adjkp25. My chickens get the same way; they literally mob me when I open the door. They love to roam!

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      We have a dozen or so chickens on our property and really enjoy them and the eggs they produce.

      When I was young my grandparents operated a commercial chicken ranch with about 30,000 hens so I have seen, first hand, what these facilities are like.

      If we don't let our chickens out of their coup everyday they get stir crazy and start to pick on each other so we let them out as much as possible.

      Voted up and interesting

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