Image from ABC news
Imagine living on this A4 piece of paper for your whole life. It's not actually a piece of paper, it’s a wire cage, hundreds of them stacked on top of each other, in rows in giant sheds with no sunlight . . . This is the tragic life of a battery hen.
Battery cages were first introduced to Australia in the 1950’s and even though people are aware of them, not much has changed. Currently in Australia there is approx. 11 million battery hens!
Battery hens live standing on wire for their whole life, which slopes downwards so the eggs can be collected. They eat by putting their heads through the wire to get to food in a trough. This rubs the feathers off their necks and chest.The get frustrated by living this way and also peck at their feathers making them almost bald. They never see daylight and can never scratch around and eat bugs and worms. Living this way makes them sick and weak and therefore makes their eggs not so great for us.
Many people think that chicken don’t have personality or feelings, but I know different. I have 3 chickens at home that we raised from eggs and they are our very loved pets. There names are Chip, Chirp and Pumpkin. Chip is always curious and tries to get inside whenever the door is open. She even managed to get onto our piano once and played a little tune. Chirp is the leader of the 3, who often tells everyone when she finds worms and tells Pumpkin off when she eats too much.
Pumpkin is crazy one, she is clucky at the moment. This morning she was having a dust bath and then jumped up all of a sudden and ran back to the laying box, clucking loudly as she went. It's incredible how fast they can run! I want all hens to be able to have a life where they can experience these things.
It's actually really sad that any animals have to live the way battery hens do. I can't even look at the pictures on the internet as it makes me really emotional. What’s worse is that I know that people just like us are doing this to chickens. It’s not just the farmers, but us making choices about where we buy our eggs.
There is lots a way we can help
Always refuse to buy caged eggs, free-range are always better. Free range is when chickens are let out in the daylight hours to scratch around in the sunshine and are locked up safe at night. Sometimes people confuse free-range with cage free chickens, but cage free chickens still live in sheds are still don’t see daylight. Lets avoid buying cage-free eggs too.
We can go one step further and source our eggs from local farms, farm gates or even have a few chickens of our own. I love that we have chickens. They eat our scraps, fertilise our garden and give us fresh and healthy eggs every day. They are very easy to look after too.
All chickens should be raised in a humane way with lots of places to scratch around, have dust baths, enjoy sunlight and have the opportunity to be themselves. I hope that as each of us make the change away from supporting cage and cage free egg production, we will no longer have any battery hens in Australia.