Chicken factory CAFOs take two paths, one for broilers, and the other for egg layers. Both are horrendous operations with thousands of birds crowded into small cages that do not allow any normal freedom of movement.
The result is extremely stressed birds, disease, high mortality rates, filthy conditions, fouled air, choking ammonia, and occasionally extreme cruelty on the part of the workers.
Such conditions desensitize workers to suffering and cruelty to the birds becomes an outlet for the frustration of low pay, unhealthy working conditions, extremely high volume, fast paced performance requirements and having no hope for anything better.
Mutilation of the birds is a common industry practice. Clipping off the ends of the birds beaks without anesthetics or cutting off the toes of turkeys, both supposedly for the safety of the birds.
Forced molting is another unnatural practice that causes more stress and disease in laying hens. Forced molting is the practice of starving the birds for about 14 days to stop them from laying for awhile and then turning on a new laying cycle when feeding is resumed.
What is described above is the picture of commercial chicken and egg farming today. It wasn't always that way and the June 2012 issue of Smithsonian Magazine carried an incredible article on the history of domesticated chickens.
Their story takes us back to the beginning about 10,000 years ago and details the journey of this ubiquitous bird to the present day in minute detail. It's worth the read and it will make you a Ph.D. equivalent in chicken history.
As jointly reported in early July, 2011 by the Humane Society of the US (HSUS)and the United Egg Producers (UEP), a breakthrough agreement has been reached that could change the quality of life for several hundred million laying hens.
The catch is that it has to become federal law before it will be implemented and as with most CAFO operations, implementation of good law depends on enforcement.
The UEP is a nationwide cooperative of egg farmers representing around 95% of the U.S. egg laying hens which at current estimate is over 280 million hens. They are caught in the middle since they have to please their chicken factory constituents as well as the consuming public.
As the public becomes more aware of the conditions under which their food is produced, such as by viewing the the videos below, more pressure is placed on the industry for the implementation of humane changes. That is is the force driving this historic agreement...you, the egg consuming public.
In essence, the egg laying birds in a chicken factory could reap the following benefits:
The HSUS has already done the work, we just have to fill out the form and hit "send". It takes coordinated action to improve conditions in the chicken factory.
Words can hardly express the cruelty and conditions in a broiler and egg chicken factory so several videos are embedded for viewing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth?
The following video documents the short life of a broiler chicken. Those are birds that are genetically engineered to produce exceptionally large breasts in the shortest amount of time.
It is the way of the chicken factory operation that animal scientists try to engineer the bird to improve the efficiency of the system instead of adapting the system to the bird. Sit back and watch "45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler".
The next three videos are the results of undercover investigations of what goes into bringing cheap factory eggs to your supermarket. Is there any better reason to only buy organic, pastured, sustainable eggs? Be aware that labels like "cage free", "free range" and "natural" are mostly marketing phrases and have little resemblance to reality.
This is an undercover look at a California egg factory.
This video, titled "Life in a Nightmare---Egg Farm" is another look at life on the egg production line. There is hope for captive egg-laying chickens in the form of The Egg Product Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 and 2014 with many of the improvements listed above.
Now all it takes is for our Senators and Representatives to do the right thing and pass it. Is that too much to ask? Unfortunately for some it is; special interest payments to Congressmen seem to outweigh doing the right thing.
This video is from a PETA investigation of industrial egg farming. The methods are the same as shown in the videos above but the source is what is surprising. Its web URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9nMAIlW-hg&feature=related.
This one is from Farm Sanctuary who made the video at Gemperle Farms in California. It also shows the cruelty and conditions in a typical industrial egg laying operation. Its URL is: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/mediacenter/videos.html
Leave Chicken Factory and return to Home Page
Go to the Introduction to CAFOs
Read how Factory Beef is raised
A pig's life in the Hog Factory
Fish Factories; CAFOs of the seas
Thank Thanksgiving for the Turkey Factory
Goose liver; See how Foie Gras is made