"Chickens are birds. Like all other birds, chickens love to be free. Left to their own devices, they will stay outside from dawn until dusk foraging, socializing, dust bathing, splashing in puddles, and perching on the low limbs of trees. They like to rest in the sun on winter mornings and nap in the shade on summer afternoons." —Eastern Shore Sanctuary

There are over 10 million female chickens in Florida egg farms, making Florida the 8th largest egg producing state. On egg factory farms, hens are housed in rows of bare wire cages called “battery cages.” As many as 100,000 birds may be crammed into a single windowless building; some farms in Florida confine over 1 million birds. (photo: chickens at a typical Florida egg farm)

Four to six hens are crowded into each cage. They are unable to stretch their wings or even lie down comfortably. Hens have strong instincts to build a nest in which to lay her eggs, to dust-bathe and perch. None of these natural behaviors are possible on egg farms. In the cages, hens suffer from foot and leg deformities, and feather loss from constantly rubbing against the wire.

In an attempt to reduce pecking and injuries— problems resulting from overcrowding— part of hens’ beaks are sometimes severed at the tip using a hot blade, without the use of anesthesia. “Debeaking” is an extremely painful but standard poultry industry practice.

Although chickens can live to be over 10 years old, in egg farms they rarely see their second birthday. When a hen is no longer producing a sufficient number of eggs, she will be sent to slaughter. Many never make it, and die in the cage from heat stress, disease or injuries.
(photo: A discarded chicken, found outside a Florida egg farm)

Another problem inherent in egg production is the disposal of unwanted male chicks at the hatchery. Male chicks have no value to egg farmers, so they are killed as cheaply as possible; they may be thrown into trash cans to slowly suffocate, or ground up alive.

The intensive confinement of hens in battery cages has been recognized as inhumane in many countries. Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria have banned battery cages. The entire European Union is phasing out cages by 2012.

What About “Cage Free” or “Free Range” Eggs?
“Cage free” eggs come from hens who are not confined to cages (instead, the birds are kept inside crowded sheds). They can spread their wings, walk and engage in some natural behaviors. “Free range” hens, in addition to not being confined to cages, are allowed limited access to the outdoors.

Unfortunately, debeaking is allowed under these standards. At the end of a year or two, when their egg production declines, “cage free” and “free range” hens are hauled to slaughter along with battery-caged hens.

The commercial production of eggs, milk and other animal products can never be cruelty-free. But animal-welfare campaigns, such as efforts to end the use of battery cages, have improved the lives of millions of animals and increased public awareness about animals.

You Can Help
– Don't buy eggs. Adopting a vegan diet, one free of animal products, is the most important thing you can do to stop the suffering of chickens. (photo: hen rescued from a battery cage)

Click here for information on cooking without eggs. For vegan recipes and products, check out VegCooking.com.

– Approach your local government leaders and ask them to consider a resolution opposing the cruelty of cage egg production and/or other factory farm abuses.

Update: City of Tampa takes a stand against the cruel confinement of chickens
At their March 20, 2008 meeting, the Tampa City Council passed a resolution opposing "battery cage egg production, based on the inherent cruelty of confining egg-laying hens in battery cages." The resolution also encourages consumers, "not to purchase eggs produced by caged hens."

The resolution noted:
"About 95% of the roughly 300 million hens in the United States are confined in barren, wire battery cages so restrictive the birds don't even have enough space to spread their wings. With no opportunity to engage in many of their natural behaviors—including nesting, dust bathing, perching, and foraging—these birds endure lives wrought with suffering."

Tampa is the fifth city in Florida to pass a resolution condemning the intensive confinement of chickens in cages. The cities of Hollywood, West Palm Beach, Winter Springs and New Port Richey have also passed resolutions opposing battery cage confinement.




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