Do you gladly pay more for cage-free eggs, thinking you’re helping animals avoid suffering? At one time, I did. I pictured happy birds roaming freely on grassy fields and enjoying the sunshine. The egg industry often uses these type of bucolic images in their ads and on their packaging. I have found that those images do not match the reality.
I helped with the rescue of one of many sick and injured hens from a cage-free egg facility that supplies Costco. The investigators found truly horrendous conditions. Hens, covered in feces and missing their feathers, were packed tightly in filthy sheds. The air was difficult to breath. Many of the birds lay dead, and others were near death. Some of the desperate, starving birds had resorted to cannibalism. It was a truly nightmarish scene.
Ella, a bird we rescued, is now recovering. She is living in a wonderful sanctuary and has a chance for a good life. Countless others will not be so lucky. I am haunted by the ones we had to leave behind. The truth is, there is no such thing as humane eggs. Birds are bred to produce far more eggs than their bodies can handle. If they live long enough, they often die slowly and painfully of reproductive illnesses or ovarian cancer. Most, however, are put to death when their egg production declines. Male birds are considered useless to the industry. As a result, after they are born they are usually ground up while still alive, or stuffed into trash bags to slowly suffocate. Caged, cage-free, or backyard residents, these facts don’t change.
If you had a chance to meet sweet Ella, or other birds like her, you might agree that they are similar in many ways to the dogs and cats you may have in your own home. They are more than mere egg factories. Don’t be fooled by the pastoral images you see on egg cartons. Those animals still suffer. I know most people care about the well being of animals and want to do the right thing. I have learned that there is simply no right way to do the wrong thing. Leaving animals and their products off of our plates is the only truly humane choice. I look forward to the day when all animals will be recognized as unique individuals with a right to their own lives. The Ellas of the world deserve no less.
Learn more about Direct Action Everywhere’s vision and tactics here.