As someone who believes that other animals shouldn’t be used for any purpose, I find it interesting and more than a little concerning that so many people are getting excited about the latest warm and fuzzy campaign from one of Australia’s ‘animal protection’ groups.
With the average consumer being forgiven for thinking that life will be rosy for chickens outside of cages, it isn’t that simple for the rest of us.
Aside from the fact that by promoting this we are increasing the brand awareness of an organisation that isn’t interested in promoting veganism, are we sending consumers a misleading message?
How will showing the public a well fed, rehabilitated and trained ex-battery hen, really raise the awareness of what happens in egg production facilities?
Is the public being mislead into thinking that those hens kept in ‘cage free’ facilities get to see the sun more often than the day they are shipped off to slaughter?
Or what about the stress that the hen will endure being crammed into a cage on a truck exposed to the elements on that fateful day?
Sure, it may be fine for these organizations to increase their ‘social proof’, by having a few ‘names’ take part in the various ad campaigns that they are producing. Except it will do very little to change the inevitable fate of these animals. And that regardless of whether they are raised in a caged or cage free facility, their life will be ‘worthless’ once they are no longer deemed to be ‘commercially viable’.
Life Outside Of The ‘Cage’
We are repeatedly told that chickens are social creatures and have complex social structures/hierarchy, and this is used as justification for getting them out of cages.
Though what happens when these complex social animals are crammed into a shed/’cage free’ facility with possibly thousands of other hens?
Can the social structure of chickens really exist without a rooster around?
Having seen both caged, and ‘cage-free’ hens when rescued, I believe that it is more traumatic and distressing for the ‘cage free’ hen to be in a wide open space.
For example, as with most social structures there are those who are alphas, the betas, and then there are the hens that are lower down the line. This usually means that the alphas get fed/eat first, the betas second and so on.
It also means that the hens who are lower down the hierarchy are picked on/bullied by those ‘above’ them.
Given the choice of the two, which would you prefer. Relative ‘safety’ in a cage not being able to move much, though open access to food and water. Or being ‘cage free’ allowed to wander around, get picked on by other hens, and possibly missing out on access to food and water because your ‘status’ isn’t high enough?
Have we stopped to consider the level of ‘stress’ these hens feel once they have been removed from this environment, and are able to fully express their natural behaviours?
Could this be because we aren’t really interested in having hens rescued from these facilities?
If we were, I am sure we would all be campaigning not to have them in there in the first place.
Why do we need to take the figurative baby steps with regards to the consumption of eggs?
People are either going to stop using eggs or they aren’t.
If they want to choose more ‘compassionate’ eggs, then that really isn’t possible considering that male chicks are ground up alive or suffocated/gassed at a few days old, and spent hens are sent off to slaughter in cramped cages when they stop laying.
The only truly ‘compassionate’ way to consume eggs is not at all.
[GARD]And the only way to be truly ‘compassionate’ towards all animals is to go vegan.
Once again, just so everyone understands. These thoughts are my own, and do not represent any organisation I am employed by, or affiliated with in any way.
If you have something to say about this piece, please leave a comment.
This article was written by the founder of VeganPolice.com.au, Cameron Blewett.
Cameron is a long term vegan (30+yrs), and is passionate about veganism, and helping people to understand more about it and giving other animals equal consideration.
You can find Cameron’s other rants on his website, CameronBlewett.blog