Battery Hens

The gorgeous Jeannie commented on my loss of Pie and Noodles, saying “How do we all rescue chooks, Rhu?  I think you could start the movement.” Like Jeanie, others have expressed an interest in rescuing ex battery hens, and on how battery hens are “cared” for.

This is why I raise rescued battery hens.

95 %of Australia’s commercial laying hens live in battery cages. That’s 11 million birds. A battery hen is not able to spread her wings, she is not able to exercise. She shares a 50cm square cage with 3 – 5 others. This means she has approximately two thirds of the area of a sheet of A4 paper to herself.  She stands on meshed wire for her whole life. She is not able to use her claws and they grow long, deformed, around the wires. She has to stretch her neck through the wire to feed, rubbing off feathers and creating open wounds. A battery hen is kept in illuminated conditions  so she is forced to lay. She will lay approximately 350 eggs in a year – that’s around 150 eggs per chicken more than she would lay naturally.

A battery hen may suffer feather loss and skin damage, injury to her feet, and broken legs – broken from being constantly drained of calcium to form egg shells. She will most likely develop osteoporosis. She may become paralysed with this condition and die of hunger and thirst in sight of food and water.  Chickens frequently suffer from salmonella, and are regularly given antibiotics for this and other diseases. But the virus continues on in their flesh and in their eggs and in the humans who eat them. A battery hen is debeaked with a hot machine blade, so she cannot peck.

As for the males ? 50 percent of chickens artificially inseminated, incubated and hatched for egg farming are male, so they are killed. They are beheaded, gassed with Carbon dioxide, or plunged into electrified water. Some are simply thrown into the grinding machine or have their necks broken.  Roosters are not kept for meat, as is commonly thought.

Eventually – if she survives – will end her single year of egg production and be considered past her prime. She is now useless. She will be pulled from her cage, thrust into crates and transported without food or water to a slaughterhouse. Her low economic value means she is even less likely to receive humane treatment during transportation, unloading and handling. During transport the hens legs often slip through the holes of the crates, and are chopped off as the crates move about. As with all poultry slaughter, pre-stunning through an electrified water bath can be unreliable and some birds may be killed when still conscious.

She will probably end up in cat food or flavoring potato chips and stock cubes.

95 per cent of commercially produced eggs in Australia are laid by battery hens. What do you eat?

Facts on Australian Battery hens can be found here.

Visit the homes for hens site if you would like to adopt a hen and save a chook.

Disturbing information (and images) can be found here, on the QLD Animal Liberation site.

6 thoughts on “Battery Hens

  1. Good onya Rhu! This is exactly why I wrote my book – there is no reason to have battery hens, particularly when they are such sensible/enjoyable pets!

  2. It is confronting and sad.
    I buy free range eggs and chickens and I dont buy nuggets but make our own. (it really is easy peoples)
    Thank you for reminding me of what is right when I may for a fleeting moment consider the cheeper (get it – cheep) option.
    Do we have proof of the ‘free range’ conditions?

  3. I have 5 free range hens so eggs are not the problem forme … it’s the hidden ingredient in chicken stock, nuggets etcs which scares me.

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