Approximately 300 million laying hens produced 75 billion eggs in the United States each year.
That means each hen laid an annual average of 260 eggs – almost ten times as many as their ancestors. This astounding increase in production has come at a terrible cost.
About 98 percent of hens are tightly caged their whole lives. Each bird has a space smaller than a sheet of letter-sized paper.
- Most hens confined in these cages also have their beaks cut-off so that they don’t hurt one another in such crowded spaces. They are without sunlight, fresh air or room to spread their wings.
- These extremely crowded conditions compromise the birds’ health creating a need for the use of antibiotics.
Egg production practices effect our environment and expose the workers to additional risks.
- The routine use of antibiotics in the egg industry puts us at risk for developing antibiotic resistance.
- Managing the excessive waste produced by the animals is hazardous. Runoff can pollute nearby lakes, streams and ultimately, our oceans.
- Working at industrial egg operations exposes people to high ammonia levels that can cause lung problems.
Confining hens in battery cages is starting to be recognized as an inhumane, dangerous practice.
- Battery cages are banned in several countries, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
- The entire European Union is currently phasing out conventional battery cages altogether by 2012.
- California passed a law mandating all shell egg sales must be cage-free by 2015.
- Currently, there is no nationwide law to mandate a transition to cage-free operations, but the Humane Society of the United States is working toward stronger state laws.