On Australian egg farms, millions of birds serve as egg laying machines. All laying hens, be it caged, cage-free or free-range, are forced to live as if their natures are negotiable. They are bored, sick, debeaked, and in pain. You can read more about their lives in confinement here.
After 12 months of laying, hens (who are only 18months old), are considered "spent" as their egg production slows. As a result, the hens are slaughtered, a process known in the industry as "depopulation". For the first time in Australia, Animal Liberation has exposed what happens to hens after they are no longer economically viable.
The Victorian egg farm featured in this expose withheld food for days leading up to depopulation to save on costs. As a result, many of the hens died of starvation, whilst others resorted to cannibalism of their cage mates.
As the hens are rounded up, their fragile bodies are subject to rough handling by contract labourers. The hens can be heard screaming in fear, as they are ripped from their cages. Due to being deemed "useless", the workers have no regard for their welfare and can be seen bashing them against the cages, whilst regularly swearing at them for trying to escape. Further, the workers can be seen mocking and abusing the hens for amusement. They are thrown, hit, held up by their wings, and have their necks broken - all while other workers watch on and laugh. Consequently, many of the hens are left to suffer with fractured bones and ultimately die slow and painful.
According to the Australian Egg Industry, the most "humane" slaughter practice is on-site carbon dioxide gassing. This contradicts researchers, who state that death by CO2 induced hypoxia is a highly distressing and uncomfortable way to die. From the footage, hens can be seen thrashing around, gasping for air and shrieking, for over two minutes before drawing their final breaths.
Sadly, the cycle does not end with their deaths. As the hens lifeless bodies are emptied into a dumpster, the next group of layers will be shoved into cages, or poured into overcrowded barns and fields. For the next 12months, they will endure the same pain and suffering as the prisoners before them, up until they are no longer producing eggs at peak rates.