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Problematic husbandry in egg production

Every year, Germans eat around 217 eggs per capita. Many Germans opt for free-range or organic eggs to ensure a happy life for their chickens. But do chickens from these two types of farming really suffer less?

Table of contents:

  1. Laying hen husbandry in Germany
  2. Differences in egg production
  3. Conclusion on problematic husbandry in egg production

The keeping of laying hens in Germany

The egg industry produces around 38 million laying hens every year. Most of the eggs on the market come from farmed animals. Here, the animals only have a very small, limited area at their disposal, which does not allow the hens to live out their urge to move.

As the hens can easily injure themselves in such a confined space, their beaks are cut off with a hot knife shortly after birth - and usually even without any training! This is because the feather pecking caused by the confinement and stress is supposed to be prevented by cutting off the beak. Although the Animal Welfare Act prohibits such separation, it is still common practice on most laying farms.

Nowadays, so-called laying hybrids are mainly used in egg production. These hens are bred for a high laying performance and lay around 300 eggs per year (in comparison: wild hens lay 40 eggs per year). They receive special feed mixtures enriched with vitamin D to replace sunlight. They also receive antibiotics through the water to protect them against common infections.

The breeding and catastrophic conditions often lead to diseases such as inflammation of the fallopian tubes and premature death. Around 10% of laying hens die prematurely on laying farms - if we can speak of premature at all: Every hen is slaughtered at the age of one and a half years, even though they can live to be over 10 years old in the wild!

The situation is even worse for male chicks. They are sorted out and killed in the very first days of their lives. This is because they do not lay eggs and are not suitable for fattening. There are special broiler chickens that are bred for mass production. In Germany alone, this affects almost 50 million male chicks every year.

Differences in egg production

Käfighaltung Hühner

Poultry farming has been banned in Germany since 2010. The term small group housing was introduced for this purpose. In a small group pen, each chicken has space on 1.5 sheets of A4 paper with a minimum height of 45 cm (in comparison: less than one sheet of A4 paper when kept in a pen).

While the hens have a little more space in a small group henhouse than in a coop, this is still unacceptable for the animals and represents a high stress load. This is because the cramped conditions mean that no hierarchies are possible, so that fights take place between the chickens, meaning that the weak chickens are always at a disadvantage.

Bottom-reared chickens

In Germany, most hens are kept on the floor. Here, 9 hens have about one square meter with several levels at their disposal. The minimum height here is also only 45 cm. The chickens live in groups of up to 6,000 animals in large halls. In contrast, only up to 20 hens and one cockerel live together in the wild.

Free-range hens

What many people may not know: In free-range systems, hens have just as much space in the barn as in barn systems. However, the hens are given outdoor access during the day. However, the livestock owner can limit this for a certain period of time. In addition, it is not precisely stipulated that shelter must be available. If the shelters are not available, the hens remain together in a small area.

Organic farming hens

Organic farming is the only form of farming that does not allow the hens' beaks to be shortened. In organic farming, 6 hens live together on one square meter. The group should consist of a maximum of 3000 animals. At least that's the theory, but in practice things look different, as the guidelines are often not adhered to. According to studies, every second organic chicken lives in a large barn.

Conclusion on problematic husbandry in egg production

Even organic farming is not what it promises consumers. This is because the regulations are usually not complied with. Furthermore, no form of husbandry can replace the natural husbandry of a chicken

Therefore, avoiding eggs or egg products is the best decision. If you don't want to do without eggs or egg products, you can buy eggs from your trusted farmer.