They spend their entire lives in a space three-quarters the size of an
A4 sheet of paper in wire boxes in dimly lit sheds.
The cramped conditions make their bones so brittle they have trouble
supporting their own weight. At one day old their beaks are often
sliced off by a hot guillotine to stop them pecking each other to
And after a year in these nightmarish conditions, during which time
they will lay an egg every day, they are slaughtered for pet meat.
The horrifying truth behind Australia's $300 million battery hen
industry has prompted the RSPCA to launch a new campaign against
Switzerland has already banned battery cages and the rest of Europe,
including Britain, plans to phase them out by 2012.
But in Australia there are no plans to crack down on the industry. And
Australian shoppers seem happy to choose cheaper "cage eggs" over
barn-laid or free-range produce, which can cost 50 per cent more.
The RSPCA will today shift the focus of its long-running campaign
against cage eggs from government regulators to the 85 per cent of
Australian consumers who buy the cheaper eggs.
Animal Liberation executive director Mark Pearson said consumers could
avoid supporting the practice of de-beaking by buying certified
He said de-beaking was unnecessary if farmers did not cram animals
into small spaces.