The Humane Society of the United States has done a seminal work on “battery-cage eggs” and “cage-free” chickens. The vast majority of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in battery cages. This extremely cruel process confines a hen to 67 square inches of cage space, less than the size of a single sheet of letter size paper. The hen lives her entire life in this confined space. Think of that. Its entire life is in this cage. The hen is unable to spread its wings, lay their eggs in a nest, perch, and dust bathe. Laying hens are among the most intensively confined animals in agro business.
Numerous scientists and other experts have spoken out clearly about the absence of animal welfare in battery cage farms. Once such scientist, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Konrad Lornez, said, “The worst torture to which a battery hen is exposed is the inability to retire somewhere for the laying act. For the person who knows something about animals it is truly heart-rending to watch how a chicken tries again and again to crawl beneath her fellow cagemates to search there in vain for cover.”
Because of the public opposition to battery cage confinement, many egg producers are switching to “cage-free” systems. These systems remove the cage confinement but do not provide any significant animal welfare. Once again, the consumer is being duped and the government is allowing the duping to take place. “Cage-free” hens are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests. However, these hens live in massive flocks that can consist of thousands and thousands of birds living wall to wall in one building.
While the “cage-free” hens are spared the severe cruelty of the tiny cage confinement, their surroundings are still inhumane. The conditions that they live in are terribly overcrowded and unsanitary. Because of the high stress of their environment, they turn to barbarism, sometimes slaughtering each other. In order to prevent this, their beaks are removed. But even this is not done in a humane way. Their beaks are burned off, which is a painful mutilation. In addition, starvation is used to force molt the birds.
While cage-free is a slight improvement over battery-cage, the hen’s life is still far from humane. It is just surprising that our government allows animals to be treated this way.
On our farm tours at Profeta Farms, we take people to our egg-laying hen area. They see that the hens are free to roam, to spread their wings, and to dust bathe-all of the normal and natural actions. I invite you to take the tour and to see for yourself what “cage free” SHOULD mean!
Paul V. Profeta co-founded Profeta Farms with his wife, certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, Joanne Malino and organic farmer John Place. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Business School, Paul created a very successful real estate investment company. Concomitantly, he taught and published at Harvard Business School, created the Real Estate Investment Department at Columbia Business School, and most recently endowed the Chaired Professorship of Real Estate at Rutgers Business School resulting in the creation of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. As a successful athlete in high school and college, Profeta was always interested in health, nutrition, and alternative medicine. Eventually, he decided that America has to change the way it feeds itself. Industrialized food processors shipping food across the country creating a large carbon footprint and offering “food products” with known contaminants and questionable ingredients was not the answer. He has created Profeta Farms, LLC as a template for the way America should feed itself… local, sustainable, certified organic farms featuring integrity and transparency, using the environment in a sustainable and responsible fashion while treating animals humanely so that local shoppers can “know their farmer” and personally check on the farmers methods and ingredients.