Millions of laying hens are subjected to three shameful cruelties: forced molting, debeaking and battery cages. At last, the industry is listening to the sharp criticism of its routine practices. Now is the time to write to the head of the United Egg Producers with a strong protest against this unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent and helpless birds.
1.) Forced molting is induced by denying all food and in some cases water, to the caged hens. For 5-14 days all sustenance is withheld. The industry does this to induce a molt. The hen loses her feathers, and when finally given food and water again, the survivors lay bigger eggs.
2.) Debeaking requires the hen's beak to be cut through so she can't peck the other hens jammed into a cramped battery cage in which four or five hens are forced to exist. Scientific studies have shown that the cut beak causes permanent pain to the hens.
3.) Battery cages are so small that none of the victimized hens can even spread their wings. Their claws sometimes grow around the wires of the cage floor, causing more pain and distress. Hens have a strong urge to dust bathe, to run about and eat natural foods, and to build and lay their eggs in a nest where the chicks can hatch—but every pleasure is denied them, all for the sake of commercial gain.
The United Egg Producers (UEP) is at last realizing that it is being seriously criticized. United Poultry Concerns' Karen Davis and Veterinarians for Animal Rights' Ned Buyukmihci and Teri Barnato have led the fight. Both Karen and Ned have doctorate degrees, and their words carry weight with publications as diverse as The Washington Post and Feedstuffs, the big agribusiness trade journal. On May 1st, Feedstuffs told its readers that UEP "recently named an advisory committee to reconsider the guidelines in view of new scientific and social trends."
On April 30th, Marc Kaufman's article "Cracks in the Egg Industry" appeared on the front page of The Washington Post. He quoted the author of a bill in the California Assembly to outlaw forced molting, Ted Lempert, who said, "I was first shocked by the practice because of the horrible cruelty, but the health issues really demand attention." Kaufman's article states, "Federal statistics show salmonella in eggs was associated with 28,644 illnesses and 79 deaths from 1985 to 1998. Several studies concluded that there was also a link between the stress of forced molting of hens and salmonella in them and their eggs."
UEP has decided, after receiving thousands of critical letters, that it needed to appoint an animal welfare advisory committee to revise UEP's current guidelines.
ACTION Please write to the president of the United Egg Producers and tell him you don't want to eat eggs that come from hens who have been de-beaked and are in cramped battery cages. Tell him you are appalled that hens are starved for 5 to 14 days in an effort to increase their production. You might mention that you are shocked to learn that hens are starved and deprived of water to save a mere 4 cents on a dozen eggs. Please tell him that you will never eat eggs again unless they come from happy hens on humanely operated farms.
He may be addressed:
Mr. Albert E. Pope, President, UEP
1303 Hightower Trail, #200
Atlanta, Georgia 30350
telephone: (770) 587-5871,
fax: (770) 587-0041
Top Photo, Rescued battery hens view the natural world for the first time.
Bottom Photo, The same hens a few weeks later.