New report of factory farm horror, this time in Philadelphia

| Wed Oct. 5, 2005 8:21 PM EDT

It was bad enough when Virgil Butler first did his report on the Tyson Chicken plant in Arkansas, which exposed horrific conditions for factory farm hens, as well as poor employee conditions. The resulting publicity made trouble for Tyson, but did nothing to change consumers' buying habits or make them demand an end to factory farm torture.

Now, a Philadelphia-based animal rights group is reporting the results of its undercover investigation of Kreider Farms, a large Pennsylvania egg producer. The Kreider report is similar to the Tyson report: Thousands of chickens are crowded into battery cages, where each has a space of about 4 by 6 inches to live. The hens' feathers are ripped off of their necks in order to push them through the cage bar, which are stacked 3-high, resulting in feces dropping all over each of them.

There are about 300 million hens stacked in battery cages in the United States. The "good" cages provide 16 inches of space for each chicken. They cannot stretch their legs or wings, and they have their beaks cut off to prevent excessive pecking. Debeaking is, as you can imagine, a painful procedure. The hens often suffer from fatty liver syndrome and "cage layer fatigue," which frequently results in death. Many suffer from calcium deficiency.

In 2003, at San Diego's Ward Egg Ranch, more than 15,000 spent laying hens were tossed live into a wood chipper to dispose of them. The San Diego District Attorney refused to prosecute because, he said, this was a "standard industry practice." The male chicks of laying hens are frequently grouond up alive or tossed into a trash heap, where they suffocate.

At some supermarkets, cartons of "free range hen" eggs are sold, but there is no reason to believe that the hens that laid those eggs have it much better than the ones at Kreider Farms or similar egg-producing factories. The only way to be sure that your eggs did not come from brutalized chickens is to buy local yard eggs.

Billions of animals are killed at factory farms in America every year. For those who eat meat, buying factory farm meat not only encourages and supports the most inhumane practices imaginable, it also guarantees that customers will consume significant amounts of hormones that have been injected into the animals.

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