Yet another factory farm-related undercover video has been circulating around the net these past couple weeks, this one courtesy of Mercy For Animals. And while I believe all of these vids have value (because they show the unedited truth of what goes on behind closed doors), this one, in particular, has really struck a chord with a lot of folks. Why? I believe for two main reasons.
First, most people still think that eating eggs does not propagate cruelty because they assume that “layer hens” are not killed…they’re only used for their eggs. (This is not true, by the way. As soon as they stop producing the unnaturally high quota of eggs that is imposed upon them, their brittle bodies are slaughtered for lower-grade meat products like chicken pot pie.) They also assume that these chickens run around outdoors in open fields all day and are not subjected to the tortuous protocols that go down, like debeaking, force molting, and extreme confinement.
Second, this video features a practice that has been going on for decades in the egg industry; the brutal killing of baby male chicks. So brutal, in fact, that it really underscores just how unfathomably ruthless the industry has become in its quest for streamline efficiency and maximum profits.
Why does this happen? In modern “farming,” you basically have two kinds of chickens; layer hens, who are used to produce eggs, and broiler chickens, who are used for meat. Broilers have been genetically manipulated to grow super big, super fast, so the industry can get the most bang for the proverbial buck for their efforts. Layers, on the other hand, spend their entire lives crammed in a cage with four to six other momma chickens, whose sole function is to crank out eggs. (It has been estimated that one single egg produced by a layer hen represents 30 hours of a chicken’s life, imprisoned in a cage under these conditions.)
Therefore, layer hens remain “normal” size so more can fit into a single cage…which becomes problematic for any males born into the system. They are obviously of no use as layers and, because they were not born with the freakish genetics of broilers, they are of no use to the meat industry. Hence, what happens in this video.
Speaking of which, I’ll post it below. Yes, it’s disturbing, so here’s the part where I’m supposed to invite you NOT to watch it because of how gnarly it is. But you know what I say? Watch the motherfucker anyway. I did, and I’ve seen hundreds of these kind of images and videos. Why? Because I don’t think we always need to turn our eyes away from the suffering of the world. We need to take it in from time to time…really digest it…really remind ourselves of the absolute insanity – the extreme levels of violence and ill-regard for life – that still goes on out there. (Besides, this vid is not THAT bad, compared to many things I’ve seen.)
Oh, by the way…although this practice is painstakingly hidden from the consumer (for obvious reasons), it is not illegal. It is literally part of everyday industry procedure. Grind up a live kitten or puppy and your ass goes to jail. Grind up 500,000 baby chicks per day, no problem. It’s just business. Scope it:
A common response to this kind of thing is: “This is terrible. From now on I’m going to try to get my animal products from more humane sources.” As a result, some folks view the free-range/cage-free procedure to be the more compassionate choice because the animal wasn’t confined to the brutal world of factory farming prior to his or her execution. But actually, there are some major holes in this idea, both philosophically and in practice. Consider the following:
1. Many “organically-raised” or “cage-free” chickens still come from hatcheries that kill all their males. So by supporting that part of the industry, you are still supporting these practices.
2. There are very broad regulations as to what officially qualifies an operation as “free-range” or “cage-free” and, I assure you, it is seldom as “free” as you might think. They are still largely confined, usually to inhumane degrees.
3. There are still no regulations as to how the chickens are treated, and there are still numerous episodes of abuse along the way (particularly in the trucking and handling end of things).
4. They are often still sold off to the slaughterhouse at the end of their “contribution” time (usually one year) and subjected to all of those atrocities, anyway.
So I say, let’s “Give Chickens a Break” and stop eating their flesh and eggs. We have ZERO nutritional requirement for eggs or chicken meat, so why support these barbaric practices?
Just a little food for thought, people….