Chickens are social and affectionate creatures who form close bonds with one another and mourn the loss of friends. Unfortunately, they are among the most abused farmed animals. Whether bred for eggs or meat, chickens suffer intensive confinement and painful mutilation beginning on the day they hatch.
Meet Louis (pictured below), who was born into the egg industry. Thankfully, Louis is now living freely at a sanctuary, but each year millions of male chicks just like Louis are killed shortly after hatching by being blended alive in an industrial macerator, or suffocated among thousands of others in a large plastic trash bag. Unable to lay eggs, these helpless animals are deemed worthless by the egg industry. Like other birds, Louis enjoys foraging, sunbathing, and exploring.
Over 95% of the eggs produced in the United States come from hens confined to battery cages where they spend the entirety of their lives unable to move around or spread their wings. Broiler chickens who are raised for meat suffer similarly deplorable conditions, crammed into filthy warehouses with thousands of other birds. Overcrowded and deprived of everything that is natural to them, pecking becomes a common method of coping with the unbearable stress. As a result, the painful procedure of debeaking—slicing off half of their sensitive, nerve-filled beaks— is standard practice on most farms.
Meat and egg products with labels such as “free range” and “cage-free” are very deceiving. The standards for these labels are loosely defined and poorly enforced. Chickens on free-range farms commonly suffer the same mutilation and similar atrocious living conditions. Additionally, on both free-range and standard farms, hens are considered "spent" when their egg production declines after only one or two years, at which point they callously disposed of and sent to slaughter. Broiler chickens live even shorter lives, being slaughtered at a mere 45 days old.
All birds are excluded from the Humane Methods of SlaughterAct, and are subjected to an extremely terrifying death. Former Tyson slaughterhouse employee, Virgil Butler, provides a first-hand account:
"I was responsible for trying to slit the throats of the chickens the machine missed on the nights I worked the killing room. Our line runs 182 shackles per minute. It is physically impossible to check them all. Therefore, they are scalded alive. When this happens, the chickens scream, kick, and their eyeballs pop out of their heads. They often come out of the other end with broken bones and disfigured and missing body parts because they've struggled so much in the tank.”
All of us can play a role in ending this suffering by cooking with egg and meat replacements. Whether making a sandwich or baking a cake, all of your favorite foods can be made cruelty-free with simple substitutions. Learn how in our free and easy Veg Starter Guide!