United Poultry Concerns 11 December 2002
UPC Letter Dayton Daily News Re: Battery-Caged Hens
The Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) ran two articles the week of December 1 on the proliferation of factory farming, including the condition of battery-caged hens: http://www.activedayton.com/ddn/project/farm/index.html On December 11, the newspaper published 7 letters condemning factory farming and battery cages and promoting the intelligence of chickens and a vegetarian diet. You can read these letters by going to www.daytondailynews.com. Below is United Poultry Concerns President Karen Davis's published letter which the newspaper titled "Egg-production methods unhealthy for hens."

I appreciated Ben Sutherly's informative series on the egg industry and the welfare issues posed by stacking hens in wire cages in ammoniated buildings the size of football fields. ("Activists label megafarm methods cruel," Dec. 2, and "Megafarm fights to compete," Dec. 3). While the egg industry's response to the welfare issues being raised is encouraging, a tad more space in a barren cage will not satisfy animal protectionists or the welfare needs of hens. If hens behave "cannibalistically" even in so-called cage-free buildings, this is because they remain too crowded, the food is boring, and the building does not provide these active birds with adequate stimulation.

In his Dec. 3 article, Sutherly referred to the raucous din of 85,000 chickens. Imagine how a hen feels, desperately seeking a quiet place to lay her eggs, but unable, ever, to find that place. This negative acoustical environment is itself a profound welfare abuse.

As far back as 1988, an article on the physiological effects of the environment on chickens published in World's Poultry Science Journal stated that chickens do not "habituate" to continuous noise. In the case of thousands of battery-caged hens, the noise is not only continuous but a continuous sound of suffering.

Chicken physiologist Lesley J. Rogers agrees. In her book The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken (1995) she stated that in addition to "overcrowded conditions, restricted movement, no opportunities for decision-making, control over their own lives, foraging, or dust bathing," hens in battery cages suffer from "abnormal levels of sensory stimulation caused by continuous auditory stimulation produced by the vocalizing of huge flocks housed in the same shed." (p. 219)

It is encouraging that the public is starting to agree that forcing chickens to live under such conditions cannot be justified by any standard of compassion.

Karen Davis, Machipongo, Va. Ms. Davis is the author of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry (1996).

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(UPC Letter Dayton Daily News Re: Battery-Caged Hens)

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