Help the Hens Leave Their Cages
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel-Tel Aviv has been active from its founding with the goal of preventing and lessoning the suffering of animals. One of the battles in which we are active partners is the struggle against raising chickens in conveyer belt cages.
The egg is a basic product that is found in almost every home in Israel. We make omelets from them, we bake cakes, but few people devote any thought to the question-where did the eggs in our refrigerator come from?
In natural conditions the chickens form small groups and have a complex social life. They check the food, run and fly for short distances, land on rods and on branches, and roll around in ‘sand baths’. They build nests in hidden places and guard their privacy jealously when they lay eggs. After the chicks hatch, they take care of them until they are old enough to be independent.
The Egg—the True Price
99% of the eggs that are marketed in Israel come from hens who are raised in awful conditions in tiny cages (conveyor belt cages) and all the natural needs that were mentioned above are denied them:
▪ They are caged their whole lives in a cage of 20X20 centimeters
▪ They cannot move or spread their wings
▪ The floor of the cage is made of a sloping metal screen that causes bad wounds and deformity of their legs
▪ The conditions of their caging causes aggression in the hens and therefore they trim their beaks, which sometimes causes great injury
▪ In order to shorten the natural process of molting feathers, during which a hen does not lay eggs, they starve them for 10 days and darken the chicken coops. They are held for an additional month in conditions of severe starvation, which causes many chickens to die.
▪ The relationship to the hens is that of egg laying machines, and human intervention is minimal.
▪ After 16 months of egg laying, the egg laying rate decreases, and then they destroy the hens in a cruel way.
Photographed by Haim Schwarczenberg
Free-Range Hen Eggs
The free-range hen eggs and the organic eggs are eggs whose source is a farm with a population of free roaming chickens in open chicken coops, in which the chickens are raised in an open hall, without cages. These farms provide the hens with good conditions, they have free access to water and food, they lay eggs in egg laying cubicles and they can go out to the yard, to walk around, to peck at the earth and enjoy "dust baths".
The free-roaming hen eggs and organic eggs cost a few shekels more each month, but they guarantee a product that is free of the suffering of the hens.
The freedom of choice
▪ 8 million laying hens in Israel are raised in awful conditions in conveyer belt cages.
▪ 16 months is the time, determined for them in advance, to live in an industrialized farm.
▪ 25% of them die earlier than that because of their living conditions, the starvation and the increased egg laying
▪ Only one in 100 laying hens is raised in free-range conditions
Crowded conditions, starvation, wounds from steel wires, hardship, violence and aggression, truncation of the beak, fear of humans and an early death—this is the true price of eggs that come from conveyer belt cage farms.
The European Union has forbidden the use of conveyer belt cages, and this process will be complete by January 2012.
A similar revolution can happen in Israel.
Consciousness and the consumption of free-range hen eggs will save million of hens that are living in cruel conditions and are suffering from intolerable abuse.