Animal Equality’s newest investigation is exposing the hidden truth of who is behind each carton of eggs. Our team of undercover investigators targeted four hen farms and one slaughterhouse in São Paulo, the country’s largest egg-producing state. The locations chosen reflect the reality for hens in Brazil’s egg industry, where the majority of hens are confined inside tiny cages for their entire lives.
In Brazil, our investigatorsreveal the cruel conditions hens endure for egg production. From their first day after birth, hens have their beaks painfully mutilated without pain medication, and then are immediately confined to a tiny cage alongside a dozen other animals. Their male sibilings are shredded, suffocated, drowned, or crushed because they cannot produce eggs and are not one of the ‘fast-growing’ breeds used for meat. This is a common practice in the global egg industry.
The hens are kept in so-called ‘battery cages,’ which are only about 18 inches by 24 inches despite each hen’s wingspan being up to 36 inches. They spend their lives in an area the size of a piece of paper, cramped together with other hens and unable to move or spread their wings.
The cages are stacked,depriving the animals of sunlight and fresh air. The hens have no opportunity to move freely or engage in natural behaviors like scratching and perching.
Artificial lighting disrupts their sleep cycles, further adding to their distress. The living conditions are unbearable, as the hens are surrounded by high ammonia levels and feces, leading to respiratory and skin problems. Trapped inside the crowded cages, the stress escalates, causing feather loss and cannibalism. The hens become infested with parasites and suffer from diseases. Their bodies are covered in wounds and their feet are cut from standing on the hard wire floors of the cage.
The relentless demand for egg production, driven by intense genetic selection, pushes them to lay around 280 eggs annually, a staggering number compared to their natural output of 10 to 15 eggs per year.
How the Meat Industry Benefits from Egg Production
When a hen’s egg supply declines, she is sent to the slaughterhouse and killed for meat production. Factory farms drastically reduce a hen’s natural lifespan of approximately 8 years to an average of only 1.5 years.
Animal Equality investigators document many hens arriving to the slaughterhouse with broken bones from the harsh conditions during transport. Inside the slaughterhouse, hens are hung upside down by their feet and forcefully shoved into shackles. The constant production of calcium-rich eggs depletes their bones of nutrients, leaving them fragile and susceptible to fractures.
One hen was found dead due to the carelessness of the employees, who didn’t help her after being trapped on the conveyor belt.
The hens are then sent to an electrocution bath meant to stun them before slaughter. Terrified and desperate to escape death, many try to avoid the electrified water by lifting their heads. They will then move on to slaughter to have their throats slit. Those that avoided the stunning will be killed while fully conscious.
In Brazil, the meat from hens is sold to humans as highly processed food products.
Hens in the United States are also killed, but their body parts are rendered into fats, oils, and protein meal. These animal products are then sold as additives for soaps, paints, pet food, and other products.
In Brazil, more than 180 million hens are suffering inside cages. It is crucial that society becomes aware that cage systems violate our Federal Constitution, as they expose animals to cruel situations such as the lack of veterinary care. We need to encourage a change towards more compassionate food alternatives.
Carla Lettieri, Executive Director of Animal Equality Brazil
As a mother capable of empathy, a hen will defend her chicks at all costs. Support a mother’s love by replacing eggs in your meals with plant-based alternatives.
Animal Equality’s Fight Against the Global Egg Industry
The conditions uncovered during this investigation are not unique to Brazil; they are a pervasive reality across the global egg industry.
In the United States, approximately 75% of hens endure the same battery cages, leading states to restrict their use due to the harm they inflict. Ten US states have banned the use of cages for hens – Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.
Animal Equality continues to fight against the use of cages for these intelligent and sociable animals as a part of the Open Wing Alliance (OWA), which works with major companies to eliminate this practice. Just last year, TORIDOLL, one of the world’s largest restaurant companies based in Japan, and Pokeworks, a brand of TORIDOLL, committed to sources all of it’s eggs from hens not bound to cages following pressure by Animal Equality and OWA.
RIU Hotels & Resorts, a large Spanish hotel chain, also pledged to ban cages for hens in its global egg supply chain following intensive campaigning by Animal Equality’s team.
Collectively, these commitments will impact the lives of nearly half a million hens.
Animal Equality is also working to end the unnecessary and inhumane practice of killing male chicks in the egg industry with campaigns across multiple countries, including the United States. Last year, major progress was achieved in Italy, where the Senate passed a bill banning the killing of male chicks by 2026.
How You Can Take A Stand Against the Egg Industry
Hens are intelligent and emotional animals that create bonds with each other and enjoy playing and learning. They enjoy sunbathing, scratching, and nesting, but those who live in cages will never have the opportunity to spread their wings.
By signing the End Factory Farming Petition today, you can take a stand against the industry causing pain and suffering to hens for profit. By lending your voice to these animals, and all animals trapped by factory farming, you can help create a more humane and sustainable future where all animals are respected and protected.
Take action now to help end the cruel practices of factory farming.