Chickens, Eggs, and the Free-Range Scam

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Chickens, Eggs, and the Free-Range Scam

By Gary Yourofsky, ADAPTT (Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow

Of the 10 billion land animals killed in America every year, around 9 billion are chickens. Egg farms stuff 5 to 11 hens into each tiny cage where the overcrowding engenders fighting. To prevent flesh damage from the fights, the top two-thirds of a hen's beak is sliced off in a process called de-beaking.

With chemicals and other drugs injected into their feed, hens are forced to lay around 300 eggs per year until their egg production tapers off. Then, without exception, they are killed. There are no hen sanctuaries in the egg industry.

Egg farms also breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. But if babies in the hatchery turn out to be males, they're considered by-products. They don't lay eggs. Male chicks are killed off instantly. They're tossed in the trash alive, crying out for their lost mothers, or thrown into huge rendering machines alive to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.

Factory farms have anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 chickens in each building. After 6 to 7 weeks of living in feces and urine, they're killed, soaked in a chlorine bath to remove the slime and odor off of their carcasses and shipped to the grocery store, destined for your dinner plate.

Chickens on free-range farms fare no better than on factory farms. According to government recommendations, chickens raised for eggs or meat only need to have ACCESS to an outside area. However, having access and actually being allowed outside are two completely different things. Most birds never see the light of day. Even if they are lucky enough to go outside, the area is usually no bigger than a standard backyard. The term free-range is used to trick people into thinking that meat and egg production can be done happily and humanely. But all free-range chickens end up dead, and violations of the access rule are unenforceable because the Animal Welfare Act excludes birds from its substandard guidelines.