There are over 20 million battery hens farmed in the UK alone living in cages with floor space smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Hens enter cages at 18 - 20 weeks and will remain in the cage for about a year before slaughter, with no sunlight or fresh air, and are often unable even to turn around.
70% of eggs produced in the UK come from battery hens. (On average a battery hen will lay only 15 more eggs a year than barn or free range hens).
The battery-farming system strives to produce the most eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible and in the least amount of space. The hens are bred and fed antibiotics or hormones to fatten them faster and make them grow larger and produce more eggs than they would otherwise.
Because overcrowding creates a prime breeding ground for disease, they are fed a cocktail of drugs which remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people who eat them. This creates a serious hazard to human health, which is why the World Heath Organisation and American Medical Association want to eliminate this practice.
In 1999 it was agreed under the Laying Hens Directive that barren battery cages would be banned across the EU with effect from 1st January 2012. A barren battery cage has just four wire ?walls? wherein 4-5 hens live for a year with less space than an A4 sheet of paper each.
However, as a result of fierce lobbying by the poultry industry it may become possible for farmers to switch from using barren cages to using ?enriched cages? which offer some improvement to the hens? quality of life but denies them access outdoors, does not address the problem of brittle bones (Cage Layer Fatigue) and pecking order problems.
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