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Animal Cruelty in the Egg Industry


[YouTube Clip]

Did you have an egg with breakfast today? If so, perhaps you shouldn't watch the video clip above. It's truly horrifying.

The Humane Society of the United States went undercover to reveal the problems it found at an egg factory (well, I suppose you could call it a "farm" but it's operates more like an industrial factory, churning out millions of eggs every year) owned by Kreider Farms, a major egg producer in Pennsylvania.

The following problems, among others, were documented by the HSUS investigator.

- Birds were severely overcrowded in cages more cramped than the national average; each hen received only 54–58 square inches of space on which to spend her life.

- Injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses, were found inside cages with living hens laying eggs for human consumption.

- Hens were left without water for days when a water source malfunctioned, causing many to die.

- Hens' legs, wings, and heads were found trapped in cage wires and automated feeding machinery.

- A thick layer of dead flies on the barn floors caused a crunching sound when walking on it.

The welfare of egg-laying chicken has been a battleground between the industry trade group United Egg Producers and The Humane Society for years, and recently, the two sides actually came together to support new rules [PDF] for egg farmers (A few months ago, NPR's Morning Edition ran an interesting story of how the two bitter adversaries actually came to work together - it all started with breakfast, of course).

The Kreider Farms opposed the proposed legislation. That got The Humane Society to start investigation as to why. Before you condemn the entire industry, you should know that it already has voluntary standards on how to raise chicken, but as you can see in the video clip above, Kreider's operation seems to fall well below that (the company denies this).

Yes, it's easy to say that egg producers - whether they be big companies or small farmers - should stick to using cage-free chicken, but that comes at an economic cost, as the Europeans are finding out when egg prices shot up about 250% in some regions.

Perhaps the best opinion is voiced by Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times in his column "Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This?" who wrote:

For those who are wavering, think for a moment about the arc of empathy. Centuries ago, we humans amused ourselves by seeing other people executed or tortured. Until modern times, we considered it sport to see animals die horrible deaths. Now our sensibilities have evolved so that there is an outcry when animals are abused — unless it happens out of sight on farms.

The police would stop wayward boys who were torturing a stray dog, so should we allow industrialists to abuse millions of hens? Shouldn’t we agree on minimum standards?

Link: Undercover at Kreider Farms [PDF]


I suppose putting an educating video on how to keep a chicken as a pet and egg source wouldn't have worked. No... Why focus on the positive when you can troll for comments with negative. Guess it's better to bathe in misery than work towards the future :)

I give my spare eggs to anyone who wants them.
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Nick Gisburne: to say that the USA is ''way behind'' is an exaggeration. The new law about only have a certain number of poultry within a square meter only just now came into force in France. I mean, in the last few weeks. So, ''way behind''?

I remember the horrific ''mad cow'' madness a few years back, Nick. Which didn't spread to the USA. The way the cows were slaughtered by the thousands was not pleasant. I believe the UK also had a huge problem with sheep around the same time.

Of course, you just needed another reason to bash the US, I know.

But just sayin'. Not all of us have short memories.
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Anyone concerned about egg industry cruelty should OPPOSE the HSUS-UEP legislation (HR 3798) that would keep laying hens IN battery cages forever, while eliminating the rights of voters! The bill would allow the egg industry to avoid ever having to answer the public's call to eliminate cages. Kreider actually supports HR 3798 and states that they will have "the least to do to comply" with the bill's standards. This should be recognized as a huge mark AGAINST the bill. Check out http://www.StopTheRottenEggBill.org to learn more and contact your representatives to OPPOSE this legislation.
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Learning about factory farming is one of the things that led my wife and I to start raising our own chickens for the eggs. Now we raise most of the meat we eat, too (chickens, pigs, turkeys, etc), and I process the chickens myself. They're hatched here under a hen, not in an incubator, then live their whole lives here in a field under the watchful eyes of our Great Pyr guardians. When it's time, they're dispatched in the most humane way I could find.

Sometimes when we go to the supermarket, we forget that something had to die for us to get that meat. I've got no issues with killing and eating animals, but I have big issues with the way they're treated (and what they're fed) while they're alive.
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Factory farming is all more or less like this, and its accepted as a necessary evil for society to afford to eat the way that we do.

I love meat, and could never imagine not eating it, but I am careful about where I source my food. Just like animals in science, you have to respect what's going on and be thoughtful of it. Personally, I try to find organic, local farms, which helps small business and supports the food system that I think works well. Sometimes people can't afford that, or do not have access to it, but I have been lucky in living in rural areas most of my life.

As far as legal/ethical behavior in food (broadly), I am often surprised how many articles focus on welfare associated with animals in animal husbandry -an activity that man has been involved in for millennia - and so few address the copyright issues going on with Monsanto and the pollination of plants, which is so new in its character that it really is shaping the future of our access to crops.
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Imagine if Alex had posted an expose on the treatment of dogs in China, the blood diamond industry in Africa, the casualties of the wars in the middle east, the treatment of gays in a homophobic school...

Would any of you be questions:
- The legitimacy of the video
- Whether it mattered that it was an isolated case or daily practice
- Whether dogs in China should be eaten if treated better, or gays in this country should still be discriminated against but not so much.
- Whether it belonged in this blog or not

Why not?

Because you are not a part of any of those problems and you see those issues from an outside perspective. The blame is not in you, but in others.

THEY are terrible people for doing this, not you.

The problem with animal rights issues is that YOU are the problem, and people tend to become VERY defensive about it because they don't like to see themselves as cruel, unethical or even remotely associated with any of it.

The truth is, we have all consumed eggs from chickens who lived in the very conditions presented in this video. Whether by buying it directly, by having it in a restaurant, or eating it in a cake or doughnut.

But why is it so hard for people to look at the issue and go - wait a minute, this is pretty horrible, let me look into this further because I don't want to be a part of this anymore!

I've been there and done that. My decision didn't come lightly. I did a lot of research, contacted humane farms to try and find a solution that would be in keeping with my habits, but I found none that pleased me. In the end the conclusion was simple - that I was going to have to change my habits in order to keep them in line with my ethical values.

Once the coin drops, it's all very clear. It's kind of like taking the red pill on the Matrix. Suddenly you see everything for what it is, and you start reading more and more and become more and more convinced that what you doing is the right thing and that others should know about this, because there's so much stuff behind it!

Thank you Alex for planting a seed - I hope people take this opportunity to do their own research and hopefully come to the same conclusion that I have come to.
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Whether the humane society, PETA, etc are good organisations or not, does not mean that the cause they fight for, and that the plight of these animals is any less real or important.

You don't need to support organisations, you need to vote with your actions by not consuming animal products and being aware of the source of the other things, especially those you consume on a daily basis.
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Wow
vegan propaganda
vegan lobby
animal rights extremists

You guys think we're terrorists and lying to get an agenda across to benefit ourselves?

Vegan activists are likely one of the most well studied activist groups there is. You are making claims of humane farming practices and suggesting that this video is an isolated case because it's posted by an animal rights group, when you actually have NO knowledge about any of this!

Have you gone out and studied it all for yourself? Do you know how your humanely raised animals are slaughtered? Do you know how many hours they are transported in a truck with no water and ventilation? Do you know about the body alterations they endure without anesthetic? Do you know how laws are passed to incriminate people who expose or even talk about these practices? Do you know how veterinary care is conducted, if at all? About how sick animals are treated?

And have you studied anything about philosophy, the history of social justice, ethics, morality, etc?

You make claims based on personal beliefs or little information much of which is fed to you by the industry that sells you the stuff - and you have the cheek to try and defend the cause?

There is a LOT more to this whole story than a short video can show you.

Call farms, visit them (they won't let you so go undercover), watch documentaries, get a job at a slaughterhouse during your summer break, read books on the subject to fill you in on the things you didn't see, read books on ethics, look up statistics surrounding animal agriculture, water polution, CO2 emissions, common practices inside farms (traditional and factory).

After all that, come back to me and you can have an educated argument about the subject.

Resources to get you started:
PHD Melanie Joy on the Psychology of eating animals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vWbV9FPo_Q

Working under-cover in a slaughter-house:
http://boingboing.net/2012/03/08/working-undercover-in-a-slaugh.html

USDA food recommendation vs Food subsidies:
http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/usdas-new-myplate-icon-at-odds-with-federal

Documentaries:
www.watchearthlings.com
www.getvegucated.com
www.forksoverknives.com

Books:
Eating Animals
The China Study
Food Revolution
Animals as Persons
Animal Liberation
Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows
Rain without thunder
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I just fail to see where any of this is "Neat".

Also, just going to leave this here:

http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/o/136-humane-society-of-the-united-states
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Yes, Alex, how dare you use your blog as a soapbox to express your opinions and personal beliefs!

Thanks for the chuckle, Elissa. Keep Alex in his place for us, would you please.
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Alex:

I understand why videos like this exist, and I respect everyone's viewpoints, right to believe what they would like, and right to live the lifestyle that they choose. I myself am a vegetarian, and am very aware of the level of animal cruelty in the food industry.

I do not, however, think that it's appropriate for these type of videos to be posted on this website. This site is not suppose to be a means through which contributers may present their personal viewpoints to its audience. If you want to spread the word about this and share the video, please do so through your friends and family.

This isn't the first time you've posted videos and links like this. I don't appreciate you taking advantage of your position in this community, and using it as a platform for your personal beliefs. As a faithful visitor of Neatorama, I am fed up with your constant propaganda. This site is for entertainment, not politics. Try to keep that in mind.
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A quick note: The Humane Society of the United States is not affiliated with the American Humane Association nor your local humane society. They are a radical animal rights group akin to PETA and are not above fabricating a story. They globbed onto the "Humane Society" name to make themselves seem more mainstream. Take ANYTHING they say with a 10-pound salt-lick.

That said, I have a pretty low tolerance for animal cruelty and there's room for a world of improvement in every corner of the United States, not to mention the rest of the world. Whether this is a propaganda piece or not is irrelevant. You can still do YOUR part to not participate in animal cruelty. Buy local, buy cage-free, buy grass-fed, etc.
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It is pretty disgusting.
Last weekend, driving near the outskirts of Birmingham we passed something that in my 25 years on this planet, I have NEVER seen before. A field with chickens in it!
I actually found myself staring, and commented to my other half I thought it was very sad that was the first time I'd ever seen chickens living in a field (apart from the odd pet on a farm but that's different-this was obviously a much larger scale thing)
Would be very nice to see more chickens running around in fields instead of stories like this!
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@sandman how is this political?? Ethics is (or at least should be) bipartisan..

definitely a neat post. Ignorance is not bliss people.
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@mongo - oh, no. I don't post things as comment baits. I do find it interesting (though not necessarily neat).

I doubt the Humane Society staged that video.
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In the countries of the European Union it is now mandatory for hens to be given cages much bigger than the old 'battery farm' cages, so that they can move around and socialise. All supermarkets in the UK sell free range eggs, and Sainsbury's (one of the biggest chains) stocks ONLY free range eggs. The US is WAY behind Europe on this issue.
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When I consider the source, Humane Society of the United States, I automatically disregard the video. Alex posts the most controversial stuff that isn't neat just to get comments.
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This is a far cry from the chicken washing video of yeaterday. Those chickens are most likely going to be eaten too but (also some are kept for producing eggs). They had a much better life and served thier purpose. It is true that if you buy local and do a little research you can eat meat and other products from animals that havent been abused or killed inhumanly. Your wallet will thank you too.
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I heartily endorse the vegetarian lifestyle. I've been a vegetarian for years now. Well, I'm not a strict vegetarian as I do still eat beef and chicken. And bacon! Mmmmmm, bacon.... And eggs. But not fish, because fish is disgusting. I refuse to eat something the smells like a back alley dumpster.

Anyhoo....

It is certainly possible to get humanely treated meat, no matter what the vegan lobby would have you believe. And the best thing about it is that humanely treated meat tastes sooooooooo much better than the factory farmed concentration camp food. Grass-fed beef and free range chicken are fed ground-up unicorn horns (which totally grow back once per year so it's not like you're killing the unicorn). Really, try a grass-fed steak and you'll never go back to that stuff that grows in the meat counter of your supermarket again.
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Yeah that vid is pretty terrible. I understand having to pump out a bajillion eggs b/c of demand, but those conditions are horrific. Come on.. at least clean out the dead bodies and how about sweeping up every once in a while. Makes me glad to get our eggs from my inlaws. Nothin like fresh free range chicken eggs every week.
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Thanks for making this kind of information available to a wide audience. The animal agriculture industry is truly one of the most abhorrent realities of our society today.

Remember though that whether free range or not, chickens are obtained from hatcheries. They separate male chicks from female ones, and since male chicks are of no use to them they kill them in one of 3 ways.
- grinding them alive (most common)
- putting them in a plastic bag and throwing it away.
- gassing them

Their meat sometimes goes to waste and sometimes will be used in pet food.

The only way to truly live compassionately is to not consume any animal product. It sounds hard if not impossible at first, but after a few weeks it becomes the most normal thing in the world, and you'll sleep with your conscience clear that no exploitation of innocent lives is being caused under your name.
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