Millions of hens every year are subjected to inhumane living conditions and treatment by the egg industry. Many have heard horror stories about this, so here are just the facts. Hens are housed in "battery cages". These are generally 18 to 20 inches long. Five to eleven hens are housed in a single cage, giving each hen the living space of less than a sheet of 8x10 paper. For a hen with a normal wingspan of 32 inches this is a very restricted environment. Thirty percent of all birds end up with broken bones.
After between one and two years of this hostile environment, egg production declines. At this point the hens are considered "spent" and are sent to slaughter. The normal lifespan for a hen in healthy natural conditions is 5 to 8 years. Sadly, they receive no help from pain at the slaughter house as “Chickens and turkeys are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act, a federal law that requires some animals to be rendered insensible to pain before slaughter."
Hopefully, this situation could change if a new bill that is making its way through Congress is approved and put into law. The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 (S. 820/H.R. 1731) would greatly improve the lives of all egg laying hens. This bill would require egg handlers to provide "a minimum of 76 square inches of individual floor space per brown hen and 67 square inches of individual floor space per white hen" as well as to have acceptable air quality within the hen's housing. In addition, it would no longer be legal to subject hens to feed-withdrawal or water-withdrawal to force molting to get them to lay more eggs. The law also stipulates that all egg-laying hens provided euthanasia when deemed "acceptable" by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
These changes would go a long way in stopping the inhumane treatment of egg laying hens. You can help get this bill passed by letting your U.S. Senators and to your U.S. Representative know that you support the humane treatment of hens.
These animals give us their lives to bring healthful food to our breakfast tables. It is only right we do what we can for them in return.