After more than two decades of abysmal cruelty and environmental degradation, the Ohio Department of Agriculture finally ordered the closure of all 90 Buckeye egg factories. Buckeye's demise is due in large part to the persistent efforts of concerned citizens unwilling to tolerate the nuisances associated with animal factories. Buckeye, which confines over 13,000,000 laying hens to battery cages, should be closed by June 1, 2004. However, Buckeye has appealed, and Japan-based Ise Farms and Ohio Fresh Eggs may buy the facilities. The celebration of Buckeye's closure is short-lived if the cruelty to laying hens simply continues under another name.
Of utmost concern is the welfare of the hens. Buckeye estimates it would have to kill 464,000 to 576,000 chickens per week to comply with the order. Humane euthanasia of such massive numbers of birds is unlikely. Or the birds could be slaughtered for soup and animal food. The future looks bleak for most of the birds, but as we go to press, our friends at Oohmahnee Farm are set to rescue 1,000 of the hens. Hopefully, the compassion shown to these birds will be extended to others, who can be rescued or killed in a truly humane manner.
Buckeye's inability to comply with even minimal environmental laws underscores the fact that it is inherently cruel and problematic to confine millions of animals to factories. Compassionate consumers should not support the cruelty of any egg factory. If you consume eggs, please be certain they come from cage-free hens who have access to pasture.
(AWI Quarterly: Summer 2002, Winter 2001, Fall 2001)