1. Hens are Intelligent, Sentient Beings
There is a popular misconception that chickens have small brains. This idea helps humans justify our actions toward them, as we feel they are inferior to us.
But we have been lied to.
Scientific research has proven that birds are actually highly intelligent beings, who have complex emotions, self-awareness, are capable of suffering, and most definitely feel pain.
Chickens also have distinct personalities and know their place in the pecking order. They can also reason by deduction (an ability humans develop by the age of seven).
A study by L. Merino (2017), found that “chickens are just as cognitively, emotionally and socially complex as most other birds and mammals in many areas, and that there is a need for further noninvasive comparative behavioral research with chickens as well as a re-framing of current views about their intelligence.”
2. Millions of Hens are Suffering
Debeaking: A chickens beak is a complex sensory organ, with numerous nerve endings. They use their beaks to manipulate food and other objects for nesting and exploring, drinking, preening, and defence. The tip of the beak contains a cluster of highly sensitive mechanoreceptors. In Australia, most layer hens have the tip of their beak seared off by a hot blade. This is an incredibly painful procedure, with hens changing their behaviour months after the procedure. Hens tuck their bill under their wings and lessen the amount of pecking and preening they do.
Killing of male chicks: Deemed “useless” by the egg industry, males are killed shortly after birth. After hatching, the chicks are sorted, with males being sent down a conveyor belt into moving blades where they are ground up. Alternatively, they are gassed to death, with some taking over one minute to die from asphyxiation.
Overproducing eggs: A chicken in any egg-laying system produces around 300 eggs in 12 months. This is a ghastly different from their ancestor, the red jungle fowl, who produce around 12-20 eggs a year. The overproduction of eggs results in a calcium deficiency, coupled with a lack of exercise causes poor bone and muscle strength, with 56% of battery hens suffering from painful fractures.
3. All Systems Fail to Meet Their Needs
A growing concern for animal welfare has led to a rise of terms such as “free-range”, “barn laid” and “cage-free”, but what do they actually mean? Sadly, all systems cause suffering because they are founded on the exploitation of females and all result in millions of deaths each year.
Battery Cages: In Australia, around 12 million layer hens are confined to cages. Cages deny the hens ability to dust bathe, stretch their wings, build nests, explore, and scratch. The cages lack all forms of mental stimulation causing the hens to suffer for the duration of their lives. As a result, many resort to pecking of their caged mates.
Caged hens also suffer from toe pad hyperkeratosis, caused by the wire flooring. The skin on their feet thickens and they often develop deep, open sores, and swelling.
Barn-laid and Free Range: “Cage-free” systems mean that hens are placed inside large sheds or barns with thousands of others. In some cases, 30,000 birds can be inside one shed. The only distinction between the two is that “free-range” farms have access to outdoors, for during daylight day. Due to the crammed conditions, it can be difficult for the hens to gain access to outdoors.
In all systems, the floor is not cleaned until the hens are sent to slaughter. This means that hens are living in their own waste for 12 months. As a result, hens often develop “bumblefoot”, a bulbous swelling of the footpad caused by infection.
Naturally, a hen can live for up to ten years but on egg farms, they are only kept alive for 18 months. After just 12 months of laying, layer hens are sent to slaughter. The industry considers them “spent” because their egg production rate slows and they are no longer economically viable. “Rippers” roughly remove the hens from their cages and sheds, a process known as “depopulation”. A UK study found that 30% of layer hens arrive at to slaughter with broken bones due to rough handling. They are then gassed or have their throats slit.
4. Eggs aren’t Healthy
The human body naturally produces all of the cholesterol that it needs to function. Cholesterol assists with the structure of cell membranes, helps the production of hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal, and assists your metabolism to work efficiently.
Consuming cholesterol is not needed, and can have negative effects on your heart. Studies have found that even consuming one egg a day may exceed the “safe” upper limit for cholesterol, creating a risk of cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Further studies found that a male who consumes two and a half eggs or more each week, may have an 81% increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. Michael Greger M.D. explains why choline, a compound found concentrated in eggs, might be the cause. “The choline in eggs, like the carnitine in red meat, is converted into a toxin called trimethylamine by bacteria existing in meat-eaters’ guts. Trimethylamine, once oxidized in the liver, appears to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and premature death.” Read more at: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/eggs/
5. There are Alternatives!
The growing vegan movement has discovered a wide range of egg-alternatives for all situations! From aquafaba (chickpea water) to ground-up flax seeds, banana, and even tofu, there are egg-alternatives for every cooking need, all minus the cruelty.