HSUS Uncovers Violations at Battery Cage Factory Farm

Where do your eggs come from?  The obvious answer is a chicken.  Put a broader approach to the question and ask yourself: do you know where the dozen eggs you just bought at the supermarket came from?

It’s safe to say they came from a factory farm.

The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) revealed yesterday a recent undercover investigation at Cal-Maine, the largest egg producer in the U.S.  The HSUS agent was employed at one of two Cal-Maine’s Waelder, Texas, battery cage factory farms.  

Photographs and video of the conditions and abuse were obtained.

The recent salmonella-induced egg recall from a few months ago apparently has done nothing to change Cal-Maine’s factory farming methods.  Indeed, a recall of 288,000 Cal-Maine eggs occurred just last week due to salmonella.  Cal-Maine is a company with $1 billion in annual sales generated through the suffering of 30 million laying hens.

HSUS reports some of the atrocities found from this investigation:

  • Birds producing eggs for human consumption confined in overcrowded cages with the rotting corpses of other birds—some of whom had clearly been dead for days or even weeks
  • Dead hens, trapped under the trough feeders of their cages, had died with their heads on the egg conveyor belts – exposing passing eggs to the decaying bird
  • Birds trapped by their wings, necks and legs in the thin, rusty wires of the battery cages.
  • Birds with severely injured legs, unable to reach food or water
  • Birds suffering from severe, bloody uterine prolapses enduring the pain of other hens in the overcrowded cages stepping on them
  • Hens in the bottom two tiers of battery cages often covered in feces from birds in cages above them
  • Escaped hens often becoming covered in liquid manure from the filth of the shallow manure scraping pits, these hens can go from barn-to-barn through manure trenches or on egg conveyors
  • Hens drowning, unable to escape the manure trench that runs underneath the cages and into the pipe leading to the outside lagoon
  • Discarded dead hens left on floors, cage ledges and tops, and carts
  • Eggs covered in blood and feces

This undercover investigation also revealed the number of workers responsible for direct inspection of the hens at this Cal-Maine factory farm — with over 1 million hens — was a measly five!  Direct inspection includes checking for illness, injury and death.

Let’s do the math:  1 million hens divvied up between five workers comes to 200,000 hens per worker, per day, that must be inspected for “illness, injury and death.”  Let’s assume each worker puts in an 8 hour day.  That comes to 25,000 birds per hour.   Further extrapolation brings it to 416.67 hens per minute, per worker.  Obviously, not anywhere near that number of worker inspections can possibly be happening.

The results of such statistics can be found in the series of photographs taken during this investigation.

Action taken by HSUS as a result of this undercover investigation include letters to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) asking them to “prioritize the inspection of this facility and to open up the Egg Safety Rule for revision to address the link between housing systems and Salmonella risk and to plan a phase out of the cage confinement of hens.”

Let’s hope they do!

For further reading on the battery cage issue, see these Care2 posts:

Flickr: Farm Sanctuary


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago


LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago


Charis Estelle Olney
c O5 years ago


Yes, I think it is a good idea to encourage people to eat less meat and that restaurants should offer more vegetable and vegan dishes.

I myself prefer to eat more vegetables and make homemade soups and vegetable meals with herbs and sometimes lentils with only small amounts of meat.

I have always felt better on this diet and I think other people would be more healthier and fitter too.

m Shiel
M s5 years ago

How can we start and non aggressive and non defensive vegan movement? maybe encourage people not to eat meat 2 x per week is a good start Contact your local restaurants and ask them to offer vegan dishes then tell your friends to order those items What do you think?

carol g.
carol g6 years ago

i have free range chickens ,they are out from 8: 30 am to almost dark ,they free range on 14 acres ,which they only use the land around the house and barn ,which the barn is 500 ft from my house,every chicken should free range ,they actually stick close to home usually.

Shannon V.
Shannon V6 years ago

Hiw bad can it get for these poor burds - just shocking.
Even buying free range or cage free you need to research the brand to know the farms conditions and to ensure they are truly free range. Dont just go on the branding / marketing.

Kathy Thomas
Kathy Thomas6 years ago

I would pay more for eggs I knew were from hens that were not abused....

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

I agree with Susan L. There is no such thing as cage free. Don't eat eggs. Please watch http://www.chooseveg.com/animal-cruelty.asp?gclid=CKPG4ouq8qUCFRxqgwodC2jhoQ and http://www.peta.org/issues/Animals-Used-For-Food/default.aspx and go vegan.