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Latest News:
Two Chickens In Need Of Good Home - 1 Girl, 1 Boy ~*VERY pretty!*~
posted by Scarlet, 24 November 2008, 8:01pm

About Battery Hens



DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
posted by Scarlet, 30 November 2006, 10:20pm

Just quickly before i go to bed, here are some direct quotes from the DEFRA website that i find appalling:

Here is one quote about 'NON-CAGE SYSTEMS' <----- this refers to free-range systems

* the stocking density must not exceed nine laying hens per square metre of usable area.
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Picture, if you can, nine hens crammed into a space of 1 meter squared...okay, it's better than a battery cage, but barely.
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Here are a few quotes on the supposedly "ENRICHED CAGES"

*(d) appropriate perches allowing at least 15 cm per hen;
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measure fifteen cm with either your fingers or a ruler, and just imagine a hen that can sit on a perch with just 15cm of room.

*Droppings must be removed as often as necessary and dead hens must be removed every day.
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If the hens were happy, healthy and cared for properly, there wouldn't be any dead hens that needed clearing away now would there??

* 8. Subject to paragraph 9, no person shall mutilate any laying hen.

9. In order to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism, until 31st December 2010 beak trimming of birds is permitted in all systems referred to in Schedules 3A, 3B and 3C provided it is carried out -
(a) by persons over 18 years of age;

(b) on chickens that are less than 10 days old and intended for laying; and

(c) in accordance with the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962[5].".
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TRAVEL RULES:
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997

Here are some things that make animals "not fit for transport"...

*(a) are likely to give birth during transport;

*(c) are new-born animals in which the navel has not completely healed.

*infant mammals and infant birds which are not accompanied by their mother shall not be considered fit for their intended journey if they are incapable of feeding themselves.
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They must be referring to very young animals if they are not able to feed themselves yet!

And my final quote, i promise:

*(3) In the case of poultry and domestic birds and domestic rabbits, the transporter shall ensure that during a journey suitable food and liquid is available, in suitable quantities and at suitable intervals, save in the case of -
(a) a journey lasting less than 12 hours, disregarding loading and unloading times; or

(b) a journey lasting less than 24 hours for chicks of all species, provided that it is completed within 72 hours after hatching.



The sad, short life of a typical battery chicken
Posted by Scarlet

There are over 20 million battery hens in the UK at the moment.

The hens are put into the battery cage when they are 18-20 weeks old, and remain trapped in the cages for an average of 52 weeks before they are taken to be killed.

They never see fresh air (apart from when they are crammed into crates and driven to their deaths) and they never get to scratch about in the soil, spread their wings or fly.

70% of eggs in the UK are produced by battery hens. People are still buying battery eggs because they are cheaper than the free range eggs.

Only 24% of eggs come from free range hens.

Size Of The Cages



A typical battery cage measures around 45cm x 50cm (18" x 20"). The cages are similar size to a piece of A4 paper. There are supposed to be four to five hens in one cage, however many battery farms ignore this and cram as many hens into one cage as possible.

Cramped conditions for the unlucky hensI count at least seven hens in this picture, how many can you see?

Definitely more than five, anyway.


A Life In A Cage



At just 20 weeks old battery hens are taken and forced into the tiny cages. They are expected to live, lay, sleep and eat in this condition for a year. After that they are considered to be 'spent' hens and will be crammed into crates and taken to slaughter.

After this, a new 'batch' is brought in to replace the old batch.

Battery Cage Info + Enriched Cages



"enriched" cages

The cage above left is the type currently being used, and the cage on the right is an Ďenrichedí cage which is to be brought into effect from 2012.

The conventional battery cages (above left) will be banned as of 2012, however, it will be legal for the existing battery cages to be replaced by the 'enriched' cages (above right).

Notice how the hens in the picture (supposedly displaying 'battery hens') have glossy feathers and are of a nice healthy weight. Compare those hens with the hens in the pictures below, some Ďrealí battery hens:

3 million birds suffer like this in the UK alone
3 million birds suffer like this in the UK alone
3 million birds suffer like this in the UK alone

Battery Hen Health



Before i split all the main points into categories, i would just like to add that many battery hens have unusually long necks. This is because they spend so many hours a day with their necks stretched through the bars of the battery cage trying to reach food, water or just trying to escape. Sorry, i just wasn't sure where to put this ;-)

Debeaking
Because so many hens are crammed into such small cages, there is bound to be squabbling. In their natural environment, hens would have plenty of room to run away from the 'bullies', and the pecking wouldnít be as bad as hens peck more when they are frustrated. To try and prevent pecking (rather than giving the hens more room) the battery hens are 'de-beaked'. This is where up to one third of the lower beak and half of the upper beak is cut of when the hen is just a few days old:

Debeaked to stop injuries due to overcrowding

Broken Bones
Most battery hens suffer from, at one stage in their life, broken bones. Due to the lack of exercise and over-production of eggs their bones are brittle and more easily broken. By the time battery hens are slaughtered, 90% have suffered painful and untreated fractures.
Also, I dunno if this should go under another heading, but I would like to add that many hens suffer foot injuries from standing on the wire mesh floor of the cages for 24 hours every day. This can cause painful welts, trapped toes and broken toes.

Lighting
The lighting in the sheds is very important. It pushes the henís body to lay even more eggs. This can cause tumours and another common result is acute calcium deficiency leading to 'layer fatigue'. This is when the hens body can take no more, and she just collapses.

Forced Moult
Around autumn time hens go through a period of moulting. This is where they lose their old feathers and grow new ones. During this time the energy that usually goes towards laying eggs is used instead to grow the new feathers. This means that, for the two or three months that the new feathers are being grown, the hens are off-lay. To try and reduce the amount of time the hens aren't laying the farmers semi or completely starve the hens during this period. Many hens die during the process.

Behaviour
Hens have lots of natural instincts, such as finding somewhere dark and peaceful to lay their eggs (something not possible in a battery cage), keeping on the move from dawn till dusk (not possible in a battery cage) and dust bathing to get rid of mites and other parasites (also not possible in a battery cage).

Because there is no room for them to lay and they have no nesting material, hens have to go against their natural behaviour and lay eggs when and wherever they are stood, surrounded by other hens. They canít make a nest, they canít relax and enjoy the peace, they canít do anything a free hen would. This hen was so desperate to find a nest for her egg she used her dead cage mate's corpse:

Chickens have desires and instincts too

As there is nowhere for the hens to dust bathe, the need to do so builds up until eventually the hen is forced to perform a 'vacuum' dust bath, where they go through the motion of a dust bathe on the cage floor. This can be very dangerous to the henís mental and physical health.


Glossary

'Spent' hens: When the hen starts to lay fewer eggs, usually after they are a year old

Off-lay: When a hen stops laying eggs, for whatever reason eg. moulting

On-lay: When a hen begins laying after a period of not laying

'Vacuum' dust-bathing: When a hen performs the act of dust bathing on a battery cage floor

Comb: The red thing on top of a chicken's head (that does actually look like an upside-down hair comb, btw!)