It is difficult to truly comprehend the intense, daily suffering of animals in factory farms. In the United States, 10 billion animals are killed every year for human consumption. Most of those animals are chickens who are raised for their meat or their eggs. Groups like Vegan Outreach use leaflets and pamphlets to show people how cruelly animals are treated in animal agribusiness, others use films and videos. But there are limits to text on a leaflet or video taken during an undercover investigation. It is difficult to see the world from the perspective of the animal in the cage. That is why Mark Middleton created the Virtual Battery Cage, an online tool that allows us to spend a few moments looking through the eyes of a hen in a battery cage.
Using the mouse, you can change the perspective in the 3D world and swing around to see other birds cramped together into the 17″ x 17″ cage. You’ll find a dead bird in the cage with you, which is all too common. In the tool, Middleton includes a number of facts to compliment the audiovisual experience. For example, 95% of egg-laying hens raised in the U.S. (about 300 million birds a year) are confined in battery cages. Whereas chickens have a wingspan of about 30 inches, a typical battery cage measures about 17 x 17 inches, and each cage holds 5 or 6 birds on average, and sometimes up to 10. While the hens wouldn’t be able to spread their wings even if they were individually caged, the average amount of space per bird is about 8.2 x 8.2 inches, an area smaller than a standard sheet of paper.
Why did he spend the time and energy to make this innovative tool? Mark Middleton wants “to compel viewers to empathize with caged hens by seeing their world from their point of view, and to show that chickens are not just things, but actual living beings whose feelings matter. I also wanted to make something interactive and interesting that would attract viewers to the facts about the misery that chickens suffer just so humans can eat their eggs.”
This simulation of a battery cage may be virtual, but unfortunately for millions of egg-laying chickens, battery cages are a terrible reality. We can end this cruelty by foregoing eggs and eating a vegan diet. We can also educate others about factory farming and battery cages. Here’s an easy way to start: forward this simulation to your family and friends.