Fast Fact: In Australia every year up to 12 million hens are used to produce eggs and approximately half a billion are slaughtered for meat.
Chickens are intelligent and inquisitive individuals. They possess empathy, self control and have up to 30 types of vocalisations.
A mother hen will begin to teach her babies these vocals before they are even hatched and her babies will communicate back to her through the shell. They also know an object does not stop existing when it can no longer be seen, a concept humans cannot grasp until 2-3 years of age.
- Across Australia, there are approximately 12 million hens crammed in tiny cages, laying eggs day and night for human consumption.
- They spend their entire lives kept in cages with up to 6 other hens, each given only a space roughly the size of an A4 piece of paper.
- Hens are hatched in an incubator and within days they are placed on a conveyor belt and “sorted”. Females will go on to be layers and males will immediately be killed by suffocation, gassing, or being ground alive by a macerator.
- At just a few days old, part of the sensitive, nerve filled beak is seared off using a hot blade without pain relief. This procedure is done in an attempt to prevent them inflicting injuries on each other when they eventually end up crammed into the tiny cages they will spend their entire lives.
- At approximately 13 weeks old, they are crammed into a steel wire cage with up to 6 other hens. This unnatural environment deprives them of being able to express their most basic and natural behaviours, such as sun and dust bathing, scratching, laying eggs in private in a nest and stretching and flapping their wings.
- Boredom leads to bullying which in turn leads to pecking and fighting which can end in cannibalism. Theoretically, the removal of the end of the beak prevents these behaviours but realistically, it does not.
- Wild fowl will only lay around 15 eggs per year. Today’s laying hens have been bred to produce a staggering 300 eggs per year, nearly one every day.
- Their bodies were never meant to do produce this many eggs. As a result uterine prolapse, egg yolk peritonitis and calcium deficiency are all common. These are all treatable health issues if the animal is treated as an individual. But when these animals are packed into sheds holding 30 000 birds they never get the treatment they deserve.
- If they fall ill with these or any other complaint, the will not receive veterinary care. Instead they are left to suffer until they die.
- At approximately 16-18 months, the egg production starts to drop off, their bodies are worn out and they are then considered “spent”.
- They are roughly handled and packed tightly into crates to be sent to slaughter. They can spend hours being transported to the abattoir and will go without food, water, or protection from the elements. During this trip to the abattoir will be the only time she can see the sky, smell fresh air and feel the wind on her face. Her body will be made in to soups, stocks and pet food.
- Free range, barn laid, organic, cage free or caged – these animals will suffer. From the males killed in their first days, debeaking without pain relief, a life of confinement ending with their death at the slaughterhouse – this is true for all types of eggs.
- When you buy eggs, the ready made biscuits, cakes or thousands of other products on the supermarket shelf that contain egg, just stop and think for a moment. Is that product worth an entire life of hell for millions of chickens every year?
- Broiler chickens have been so drastically engineered that from the time they are born to the time they are heavy enough to reach slaughter weight takes just 5-7 weeks.
- Growing at such a rate puts extreme pressure on their bodies. The heart cannot manage with the rapid weight increase in the body and often gives out. Called Acute Death Syndrome (ADS) or Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), the cause of death is heart failure and pulmonary oedema, with the chicken essentially drowning due to fluid accumulation in the lungs. They can also suffer from “breast blisters” as the breast tissue is so large and disproportionate they physically cannot lift themselves from the ground. So they rest on a faeces ridden floor and develop open sores which can lead to infection and death. Dislocations and fractures are also common due to the tremendous body size and quick growth.
- Like layer hens, if any illness or health issue arises, veterinary care will not be forthcoming. Up to 2% of chickens die slowly and painfully in the sheds from ADS, other illness, starvation (from being unable to access food and water) and trauma.
- The growing sheds typically house between 40-60 thousand birds which equates to 1200 animals dying often in agony.
- The shed will only be cleaned when the chickens are sent to slaughter, this is called the “all-in/all-out” method and is much cheaper than cleaning throughout the growth period.
- In the weeks the animals spend in these sheds the ammonia from the faeces becomes overpowering, the air will likely also be full of dust, bacterial and fungal spores.
- At the end of their 5 week life, they too will be crammed into crates and sent to the abattoir. This will be their only glimpse of the outside world and the only time they feel the sun and taste fresh air.
WHAT CAN I DO?
The quickest way to stop the exploitation and abuse of chickens is to stop supporting these industries. Share your concerns with friends, family and others about what the issues are. In addition you can also let the operators of these industries know how you feel. If these activities take place in your local area then contact your council and let them know. You can also contact your local MP’s to voice your concern.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Many people don’t realise that you can source all your nutrients from non-animal sources. Going vegan is the easiest and most powerful way to help stop the abuse and exploitation of animals for food or their products. As a consumer, the power is in your hands to choose not to support the industries that inflict cruelty on animals.
The most powerful tool we have to help animals is our voice. Once we learn about the cruel ways humans use animals for greed, profit or pleasure we need to help educate and inform others. To learn more about how to go vegan, go to veganeasy.org.
If you want to do more to help, you can support us by becoming a member of Animal Liberation WA, and signing up to volunteer!