The egg industry is large and wealthy, and the conditions and abuse that chickens used for eggs will suffer is just as bad as any animal bred for meat.
Just like what it sounds like – where chicks are hatched for the egg industry. Hatcheries in the UK can process up to 80 million baby chicks per year. Sadly, only half of them get to live any longer – we’ve discovered that up to 40 million male chicks are killed every year at just one or two days old. They don’t lay eggs like the females and they’re the wrong breed and ‘too skinny’ for the meat industry.
Chicks are hatched inside crates, then are put on a conveyor belt. The workers separate them into male and female. The males get killed, and many of the females get mutilated, with the tips of their beaks being painfully sliced off – all so they don’t injure each other in conditions too cramped to be natural.
Most of the female chickens are killed after about 72 weeks (just under a year and half old), which is many years before they would naturally die – all because they start to produce less eggs after this, and so aren’t as profitable!
This is the same for all types of eggs – free range or organic or intensively farmed.
Free-range eggs are just a label for another type of factory farming. We’ve seen it in action!
Hens are placed in indoor sheds by their thousands for 18-21 weeks, conditioning them to stay inside. We filmed some being shocked by electric wires around their food and water to prevent them going to the toilet in those areas.
They are often kept in massive industrial sheds with just a few small doors along the side. Most of the hens we’ve seen on farms never went outside - and when they do it's nothing like the adverts say! Pictured is one of the 'sand pits' our undercover cameras filmed, little more than a puddle and certainly no good to the chickens.
Because they keep thousands of hens together in the same place, it’s easy to have infections and diseases run riot. Death from these conditions is not uncommon.
Another method of egg farming is caging them. Battery cages are now banned - but have just been replaced by another cage! They call them ‘enriched’, which is completely misleading as they are still just packed into wire cages, indoors, for the whole of their lives. Sheds can hold up to 125,000 hens in cages!
Bored, desperate and frustrated hens often turn violent, attacking each other, and causing even more suffering. Disease and infection is again common. 50% of egg-laying hens in the UK are farmed this way.