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Video Footage from Pennsylvania Egg Farm Reveals Extreme Abuse
From November 30 to December 9, 2005, an investigator affiliated with Compassion Over Killing worked undercover at Esbenshade Farms, one of the nation’s top egg producers, located in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. While there, he documented appalling conditions for hundreds of thousands of hens including:
* birds overcrowded in wire cages so small, they cannot spread their wings,
* hens left to suffer from untreated illnesses or injuries,
* birds with their wings, legs, or feet entangled in the wires of cages, unable to access food or water,
* injured or dying birds removed from their cages and left in the aisles without access to food or water,
* birds impaled on the wires of the cages with many found already dead as a result of the painful immobilization, and
* hens living in cages amongst decomposing bodies of other birds.
Criminal Charges Filed
COK presented the video footage to a Lancaster County humane officer who agreed that the conditions for hens at this factory farm are cruel and inhumane. Lawyers for The Humane Society of the United States are providing legal assistance with the case, and as a result of the video documentation and other evidence, the owner of Esbenshade Farms and the manager of the facility in Mount Joy have each been charged with 35 counts of criminal animal cruelty. Read more about this investigation and the charges filed as reported in a feature article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Esbenshade and the Egg Industry
Esbenshade Farms does not even participate in the United Egg Producers’ (UEP) voluntary certification program, which sets forth the absolute barest of minimum guidelines for laying hen husbandry. While these guidelines still permit a wide variety of abuses, the fact that Esbenshade Farms will not even agree to follow them says a lot about the company. In fact, more than 80 percent of the egg industry participates in the UEP’s program.
Esbenshade Farms is Pennsylvania’s third-largest egg producer operating three egg factory farms, which house a total of 2.25 million hens in battery cages. At the facility in Mount Joy, the investigator was one of four workers monitoring seven sheds in which an estimated 600,000 battery hens are confined. In other words, each worker is responsible for the care of approximately 150,000 birds each day. To make matters worse, the cages at this facility are so dilapidated that countless birds become injured or impaled on lose wires, preventing them from accessing food or water. Many die as a result of these debilitating conditions.
Choose Egg-Free Foods: The best way each of us can help laying hens is to leave their eggs out of our shopping carts. Get free eggless recipes and/or order your free Vegetarian Starter Guide today!
Write a Letter: Please urge your legislators to ban the use of barren battery cages. Welfare concerns have already prompted the European Union to phase out the use of conventional battery cages by 2012. The U.S. should do the same. Contact your representatives and let them know that it’s time to ease the suffering of laying hens. Read COK’s report, Animal Suffering in the Egg Industry, to learn more about the inherent cruelties of the battery cage system.
Campaign Against Battery Eggs: Join the effort to get battery cage eggs off the shelves of grocery stores. Learn more about the Humane Society of the United States’ No Battery Eggs Campaign.