Hens used for egg production come from hatcheries, where male chicks (none of which can lay eggs) are killed immediately after hatching. Each year, hundreds of millions of these vulnerable beings are suffocated or ground up alive to produce fertilizer or feed.
Chickens used to produce eggs, including eggs labeled "cage-free," have their beaks forcibly mutilated to minimize the damage they cause each other when crowded together.
At all farms, large-scale and small-scale, laying hens are killed when their production declines, typically within two years, as feeding these worn-out individuals cuts directly into profits. Often the bodies of "spent" hens are so ravaged that no one will buy them, and they are ground into fertilizer or just sent to a landfill.
If allowed to live free of exploitation and slaughter, chickens can live ten years or more. They protect, feed, and nurture their young, just like other animals.
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The bulk of the images in this slide show depicting the activities of the egg industry were provided by Animal Liberation Victoria (Australia) and Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary (USA), each of which reviewed the use of the photos prior to publication. The images were captured during investigations carried out by these organizations. Their use in this slide show is not intended to depict totality of any one facility, but to give the viewer an overview of the realities of an exploitative industry.
The animal advocacy video that depicts chickens running about in a clean hay strewn barn is titled "Cage Free Eggs--Why Should we Switch" and can be seen here.
The source of the "Cage-free" press release is here.
Two of the "Cage-Free" media stories referred to are here and here.
The third news story was published on May 11, 2006, by the San Jose Mercury News: "GOOGLE USES CLOUT TO FREE HENS"
Regarding the use of the terms "debeaking," "beak trimming," and "beak conditioning," see this link.
The spent-hen processing plant is located in Canada.
The investigative report on the 80,000 hens being gassed is here.
For more information on the connection between animal agribusiness and global warming see this link.