Factory Farmed Eggs Are Not Worth Dyeing Over This Easter!

Compassion Over Killing

Eggs are a universal symbol of Easter, but like rabbits, these hard-shell bodies have historical ties to spring that long predate the Christian holiday. Ancient Egyptians and Persians used to dye eggs, as a symbol of renewed life, and give them as gifts during their spring festivals.

Thousands of year later, eggs are dyed by the millions and hidden for children to find each Easter. But where do all these eggs come from?

Chickens raised for egg production are called layers, and about 98% of the 300 million laying hens in the United States are raised in long, warehouse-like buildings called factory farms. Here animals are seen as production units, not as the intelligent, sentient creatures they are. They are merely there to produce a product-eggs, in this case. A layer's life is far from the idyllic image of Old MacDonald's farm one would imagine.

As many as 200,000 hens may live in each industrial building, not a barn with access to the outdoors. The birds are housed in square wire cages-called "battery cages"-stacked one on top of each other, in long rows. An average of six hens are housed in a single barren cage. That gives each hen less room than a sheet of notebook paper.

The hens will spend the rest of their lives here-never allowed to go outdoors, peck the ground, flap their wings, dust bathe or roost in trees. There is no way to nest in a battery cage; instead the bottom is sloped so the eggs roll onto a conveyor belt, which takes them to processing.

The European Model

This is not the case in Europe, where battery cages are already being phased out in many countries, including Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. By 2012 conventional battery cages will be prohibited within the entire European Union. But while governments and consumers across the Atlantic have recognized and taken action against the inherent cruelty of the battery-cage system, it is still the standard practice in America.

What's more, when egg production in layer factory farms starts to decrease, the hens are force molted. This is done by restricting their food intake for up to 14 days, which shocks a bird's system into another egg-laying cycle. This temporarily increases egg production, but at a great cost to the welfare of the hen.

What You Can Do

This Easter, remember that if you're buying eggs, those labeled cage-free are a better choice. Cage-free hens are not confined in battery cages and are able to express many of their natural behaviors, such as nesting, walking, and spreading their wings. Keep on walking if you see egg cartons labeled "United Egg Producers Certified" - these hens are kept in battery cages.

Also, ask your grocer to enact an exclusively cage-free egg policy, similar to those of Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace.

Celebrate compassion, both this Easter and all year long!
- adopt, foster, volunteer and until there are none ... save at least one -