Are eggs cruelty free

Note: The content of this article in words and pictures is based on the facts at the time of the first publication (April 8, 2020)

Every Austrian eats around 240 eggs a year. But only very few people think about the life of the chickens in the laying positions. The VGT looked at ten aspects of egg production - from hatching to death of the hens.

1. The hatch in hatcheries

Chickens are not hatched by hens but by incubators. There is no relationship between hen and chicks - mother and children never meet. The industrial process is profit-oriented and mechanical - there is no time for the individual development of the chicks.

2. The chick killing

Especially the male chicks of the laying breeds, but also female chicks that hatch too slowly, are killed on the first day of life. This is done by gassing or shredding - without anesthesia. In 2019, more than half of the hatching eggs were discarded by laying hens. A total of 9.4 million chicks were killed in this way.

3. Rearing pullets

The young hens are kept on their own farms for two months until they begin to lay eggs. In these pullet rearing facilities, even cages are still allowed. The stocking density is enormous - the animals cannot develop normal social behavior here.

4. The keeping of laying hens

More than 6.5 million laying hens are kept in Austria - plus more than 2 million pullets. In conventional housing, groups of up to 6,000 animals are allowed per hall. After all, 3,000 hens are still kept in organic farming. Floor positions, in particular, often do not correspond to the image that many people have in mind: They can consist of several floors and partly consist of grid floors.

5. The density of husbandry

Many thousands of animals have to get along with each other in egg production in each hall - the natural social behavior of the chickens is completely overstretched. There is aggression and self-harm. Between 6 and 9 animals can be kept per square meter in Austria, depending on how they are kept.

6. Employment

Employment material is not required by law for the intelligent chickens. Many natural behaviors cannot be acted out. Needs remain unsatisfied. The lack of irritation leads to further stress and suffering.

7. The light

According to the law, floor postures do not have to have windows. As a result, most floor-level hens live in artificial light for their entire life. The duration of the light phases is fully used, because the chickens should lay as many eggs as possible as quickly as possible. Poorly adjusted, too low light frequencies from artificial light bulbs are perceived by the chickens as extremely unpleasant flickering.

8. The layout print

For generations, modern laying hens have been bred solely for laying performance. Instead of the natural 12 eggs per year, they now lay 350 eggs and more. This drains the animals' bodies heavily. A rescued performance breed chicken hardly reaches their normal life expectancy of 15 years. Little attention is paid to the pain of the laying process - especially the first eggs and particularly large eggs (which are very popular on the market) can cause great pain for the hens when laying. Traces of blood on the eggs are testimony to this.

9. Premature death

Every 10th chicken dies in egg production before the slaughter date. Illnesses and injuries, problems with the laying process or fights with other animals are common causes of death. Individual care and control can no longer take place in groups of many thousands of animals. Only dead animals are picked up in some businesses.

10. The slaughterhouse

When they are only 12 to 15 months old, hens from all types of rearing are killed in slaughterhouses. At this point, the laying performance drops to around 80% on average, which is no longer profitable enough for the egg industry. The gas stunning of chickens in the slaughterhouses leads, as with mammals, to slow asphyxiation to the point of unconsciousness. Air cushions between the feathers can even completely prevent the stunning from being achieved. It has also been proven that hanging up the non-anesthetized hens by their hind legs ("shackling") for stunning in electric baths is very painful. After only a little over a year of life, the hens are killed.

We cannot ignore this brutal system!

To the petition


Press photos free to print (Copyright: VGT / VEREIN GEGEN TIERFABRIKEN)

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