The life of
a caged hen

34 hours of suffering: The real cost of an egg


Hens are very social animals who like to forage for food, take dust-baths, perch, and take care of their families. Selectively bred to produce the maximum number of eggs, hens spend up to two years packed in wire cages with six other birds. The cages are so small and crowded that hens cannot even spread their wings or exhibit other natural behaviors.


Male chicks cannot lay eggs and are not the chicken breed used for meat. Deemed worthless by the egg industry, after being separated from the females, they are disposed of like trash, either suffocated to death or ground up alive in large industrial macerators.

Intense confinement

Did you know that in the U.S., more than 90% of hens are packed into wire cages? On average, each hen has less living space than a standard piece of printer paper. Inside these cages, they are forced to stand or crouch on the cages’ hard wires, which cut their feet. Because of the living conditions, hens often die in their cages. They are sometimes left to rot in the same space alongside living birds.


Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals


Hens are mutilated in the egg industry. Due to the stress of such intense confinement, hens engage in unnatural behaviours. Self-mutilation and even cannibalism are common. As a result, workers cut off a portion of their sensitive beaks without any painkillers.



hours hens suffer
for just one egg


hens crammed
in each cage


male chicks killed
every year in the US


hens used
for eggs in the US


of hens live
in battery cages

Beyond the Cruelty

The egg industry is detrimental to both our health and the planet.

Eggs and the environment

Much like the animal agriculture industry as a whole, factory egg farms have major environmental consequences. For every egg consumed, a half a pound of greenhouse gases are produced. Aside from the large amounts of ammonia and carbon dioxide produced, the egg industry also uses large amounts of pesticides. These pollute local waterways and the air.

Photo: acinquantadue /

Eggs and your health

Consuming eggs comes with several risks to our health. The inside of eggs that appear normal can contain Salmonella – a dangerous pathogen that can make you sick. Many chickens carry the bacteria which can contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are formed. Eggs can also become contaminated from the droppings of birds. People infected with Salmonella may experience diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting.


Photo: Monkey Images /

Relevant campaigns

Hens used for their eggs suffer immensely. Animal Equality’s investigators are working in tandem with our education and corporate outreach departments to help expose cruelty, educate the public, and obtain corporate commitments to ban cages.

First-ever investigations to help hens

Animal Equality presented the first-ever investigations into the cruel egg industry in both Mexico and Brazil – paving the way for a national dialogue around the way these delicate animals are exploited for food. The investigations also led to several corporate outreach victories improving the lives of caged hens.


Through investigations and corporate outreach, Animal Equality has secured more than 60 policy commitments from corporations aimed at improving the lives of hens.


Huevos Guillen

Spanish egg producer, Huevos Guillen, commits to eliminating cages from their supply system by 2025 after negotiations with Animal Equality. This policy will affect 5 million hens a year.



After negotiations with Animal Equality, Starbucks commits to eliminating cages for hens in Brazil by 2025. This policy will affect 10,000 hens a year.


Grupo Anderson's

Mexican restaurant chain Grupo Anderson’s decides to eliminate cages from their supply chain by 2025 after negotiations with Animal Equality.



French multinational Carrefour goes cage free in Italy after negotiations with Animal Equality. The measure that will affect 500,000 hens will be implemented by the company in 2020.

What can I do to help?


Join forces with Animal Equality as an Animal Protector! You can help defend hens from the worst forms of cruelty by joining our volunteer program. Be alerted to action alerts and campaigns that aim to improve the lives of animals in the cruel egg industry. Together, we can help spread awareness of the crash reality millions of hens face around the world!

Become an Animal Protector

Help hens!

Hens are smart, social, sensitive animals who deserve a much better life than this.

Helping them is now easier than it has ever been before. Today, a trip to the supermarket reveals there are more cruelty-free plant-based options than ever before. Visit our website LoveVeg for more information on how to replace eggs in your diet.

© Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

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