Aussie Eggs

Australian egg farming: the inside story

Exposing industry-standard cruelty through investigations into numerous Australian egg farms.

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The Australian egg industry is only driven to address the interests of the animals it produces when consumer concern threatens profitability.  When the industry fears sales will drop, it reacts by doing the minimal amount possible to appease consumers whilst maintaining maximum profits. This industry treats layer hens as mere objects, units of production, and this is evidenced by the horrific lives these animals endure from their birth, right through to their deaths.

Permanent confinement

  • Hens in battery cages, barn-laid systems, and many free range systems spend their lives in artificially lit surroundings designed to maximise laying activity, with insufficient room to act on natural instincts like preening, nesting, foraging and dust bathing.

De-beaking

  • Due to the suppression of many of their natural instincts and social interactions, chickens raised in battery cages often become frustrated. This may trigger pecking, bullying and cannibalism. In an attempt to prevent this behaviour from causing injuries, factory farmers routinely conduct beak-trimming or 'de-beaking' on chicks. This involves the practical removal or burning off of the upper and lower beak through the application of an electrically heated blade.
  • Despite the fact that de-beaking is known to cause acute and chronic pain (particularly in older birds) due to tissue damage and nerve injury, no State or Territory law in Australia requires pain relief to be used in conjunction with the procedure.

Male chicks killed at birth

  • All egg systems are faced with a universal 'problem' when it comes to the hatching of chicks raised for egg laying. Since only female chickens lay eggs, male chicks who have no commercial value to the egg industry are routinely gassed or 'macerated' (ground up alive). As a result, every year some 12 million male chicks are killed in the first day of their lives as waste products of the Australian egg industry.

Slaughter of "spent" hens

  • Layer hens are killed years short of their natural life span. Hens will naturally live for around 10 years, but most layer hens in Australia are sent to slaughter as soon as they exceed their productive 'use by date'. In all egg production systems, from cage to free range, hens are considered 'spent' from just 18 months old. Occasionally however, if it's deemed commercially viable, hens in free-range systems will be kept on for another season which would extend their life for around 12 months — still well short of what nature intended.
  • Battery hens are forcefully pulled from their cages, often through cage doors so small that their bones break in the process. Hens are packed into crates and trucked (often long distances) to the slaughterhouse.

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