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!
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Paul V. Profeta is a visionary who co-founded of Profeta Farms along with his wife, certified Integrative Nutrition Coach Joanne Milano. A serial entrepreneur and successful businessman, Paul became focused on our food supply and the contaminants therein. Eventually, Paul and Joanne decided that America had to change the way it fed itself, and Profeta Farms was born. Committed to growing, raising and selling delicious food that is healthier for our customers and for the environment, Profeta Farms caters to customers who want organic produce, meats, eggs and prepared foods that are fresher, healthier and more flavorful than food from conventional grocery stores or other markets.