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Pages 4 - 5

Why Veg?

Hens in crowded cages suffer severe feather loss.(1)

(1)   Evidence from numerous farms visited by animal liberationists, as detailed at http://www.openrescue.org/.  This photo is from the original US version, however is indicative of the crowded conditions on Australian egg farms.

Egg-Laying Hens

Australian law allows farmers to keep a hen in a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper for her entire life(2).  Egg farms producing “cage eggs” are huge sheds keeping tens of thousands of birds in row upon row of such tiny cages. Hens can become immobilised in the bars and die of asphyxiation or dehydration(1). Decomposing corpses are often found in cages with live birds(1). Through selection, lighting and feed(2), hens are forced to produce an egg almost every day(3).

(2)   "Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry 4th Edition" (2002) by Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management (SCARM). Source: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=3451

(3)   National Farmers Federation (1997) “Australian Agriculture (6th ed)” Morescope, Hawthorn East. 

This books explains hens are kept in a brooding area for about 1 month after hatching, then put in cages and they start laying at about 5 months.  They lay 21-22 dozen eggs in the first year after being put in cages, and produce for 12-14 months, and are slaughtered at about 80 weeks old.

This is a highly unnatural egg production rate induced by human intervention.  Birds usually only lay eggs to reproduce.  They lay an egg a day for a few days in a row, two or three times a year (varies between species).

For information about how many eggs in a typical bird’s clutch: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/understanding/clutch/document_view

Time between clutches has been reduced to about 1 day in domestic hens, so they lay eggs almost every day for humans to eat.

From: Bellairs R & Osmond M (c2005) “Atlas of Chick Development 2ed” San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press. Preview of this book, including the part with this information (page 3), available from http://books.google.com.au

Producing an egg takes a lot of energy and nutrients from a hen’s body so laying one everyday places unnatural strain on hens.

Stress can make caged birds peck each other(4). To combat this, part of their beak is cut off with hot blades. Research from within the industry gives a second reason to beak trim: to make them eat less (egg production being unaffected). Beak trimming cuts through nerves causing on-going pain, as well as impairing a hen’s ability to pick up food - considered an economic bonus for the farmer(4),(5),(6).

(4)   Glatz P (2000) "Review of beak trimming methods" Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Publication 00/72.  Source: http://www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/CME/00-72.pdf

Excerpt: "in order for beak-trimming to be performed only once, the savings in labour and other costs associated with the second beak-trim must be greater than the costs associated with the increased feed intake. Beak-trimming twice, significantly reduces feed intake."

This document also says it is common practice in Australia to cut the beak twice for each hen, once before about 10 days old, and once again at about 10-14 weeks.

Elsewhere in the document it says egg production doesn't decrease with decreased food intake.

(5)   Glatz P (1990) "Effect of age of beak-trimming on the production performance of hens" Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, vol 30 (349-355)

Excerpt: "Layers not trimmed consumed significantly more food, laid fewer eggs and had poorer food efficiency than beak trimmed birds.  Early in lay there was no difference in daily egg production with age at beak trimming, but by 50 weeks of age, birds trimmed at hatching or 42 days were producing more eggs than those trimmed at 10 days of age.  Chickens trimmed at hatching consumed less food than chickens trimmed at 10 days, and in the late laying phase (67-82 weeks) all beak trimmed groups had significantly lower food intake than control hens.  These results show that age of beak trimming influences performance and that considerable saving in food costs for the Australian Poultry Industry can be achieved by trimming half of the top beak and one third of the bottom beak of chickens at hatching."

"During the experiment trimmed chickens ate less food than the control hens.  This large difference in food consumption between trimmed and control hens could be due to pain, reduced food wastage and poorer feather cover.  Pain is a factor thought to reduce feed intake of beak trimmed hens.  Breward and Gentle (1985) have suggested that neuromas formed in the stump of trimmed beaks and exhibiting abnormal spontaneous nerve discharges might indicate long-term pain.  If there is persistence of pain in the beak, then pecking at drinking nipples and water troughs might be just as painful as feeding.  Reduction of water intake could result in reduced food intake.  On the other hand, the top of the beak contains mechanoreceptors (Gentle and Breward 1986) which, when removed, impair the mechanical ability of the hen's beak for picking up food immediately after trimming and later during lay (Gentle et al. 1982)."

(6)   Glatz P (1987) "Effects of beak trimming and restraint on heart rate, food intake, body weight and egg production in hens" British Poultry Science, vol 28 (601-611)

The life span of a commercial egg producing hen - whether cage, barn or free range – is approximately 18 months as opposed to 10–12 years in natural conditions - she is killed when her egg production declines. Hens lay so many eggs their bones often snap from osteoporosis(7),(8),(9).

(7)   "Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Land Transport of Poultry 2ed" (2006) by Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC). Source: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=5391

(8)   Gregory N & Wilkins L (1989) "Broken bones in domestic fowl: handling and processing damage in end-of-lay battery hens" British Poultry Science, vol 30 (555-562)

(9)   Gregory N et al (1990) "Broken bones in domestic fowls: effect of husbandry system and stunning method in end-of-lay hens" British Poultry Science, vol 31 (59-69)

For all egg production methods including free-range, male chicks are killed by gassing or mincing alive(10) (they neither lay eggs nor grow quickly enough for meat).

(10)   "Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry 4ed " (2002) by Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management (SCARM). Source: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=3451

This is how most eggs in Australia are produced today.

Chick being debeaked(11).

(11)   This picture shows the standard beak trimming method, as described by Glatz in (4) (Australian publication from RIRDC)


Highly intelligent and social animals, pigs suffer enormously in close confinement — their stress is expressed by continually chewing the bars of their stalls, constant head waving, tongue rolling, chewing on nothing, mouth stretching, and pawing the floor(12),(13),(14). Many literally ‘go mad’(12). Sows are treated as breeding machines and endure a cycle of suffering and deprivation.

(12)   Mason G (1991) "Stereotypies: a critical review" Animal Behaviour, vol 41 (1015-1037)

(13)   Von Borell E & Hurnik J (1991) "Stereotypic behavior, adrenocortical function, and open field behavior of individually confined gestating sows" Physiology and Behavior, vol 49 (709-713)

(14)   Fraser D (1975) "The effect of straw on the behaviour of sows in tether stalls" Animal Production, vol 21 (59-68)

Over 5 million pigs are slaughtered every year in Australia(15), with nearly all being kept in intensive conditions for their entire, unnaturally short lives.

(15)   Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) "Year Book Australia 2005" Commonwealth of Australia: Canberra

Breeding sows are kept inside sheds — continually pregnant and confined in a barren, metal barred stall too small for her to turn around(16).

(16)   "Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Pigs 2ed" (2003) by Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management (SCARM).  Source: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=1546

To give birth, each sow is moved to an even narrower farrowing crate — a metal barred pen scarcely bigger than her body with a hard slatted floor area. There is no straw or bedding so she gives birth onto the hard floor. Denied of her strong instinct to make a nest, she becomes highly frustrated in the hours before giving birth(17),(18),(19),(20),(21),(22). “Most sows substitute vigorous activity for nest-building a few hours before the onset of farrowing. Such activity often leaves the sow with lacerations, contusions and abrasions and sometimes even leads to apparent exhaustion.”(23)

(17)   Marchant J & Broom D (1993) "The effects of dry sow housing conditions on responses to farrowing" Animal Production, vol 56 (475)

(18)   Lawrence A et al (1994) "The effect of environment on behaviour, plasma cortisol and prolactin in parturient sows" Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 39 (313-330)

(19)   Castren H et al (1993) "Preparturient variation in progesterone, prolactin, oxytocin and somatostatin in relation to nest building in sows" Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 38 (91-102)

(20)   Arey D, Petchey A & Fowler V (1991) "The preparturient behaviour of sows in enriched pens and the effect of pre-formed nests" Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 31 (61-68)

(21)   Haskell M & Hutson G (1994) "Factors affecting the choice of farrowing site in sows" Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 39 (259-268)

(22)   Cronin G et al (1994) "The behaviour of primiparous sows around farrowing in response to restraint and straw bedding" Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 39 (269-280)

(23)   Hansen K & Curtis S (1981) "Prepartal activity of sows in stalls or pens" Journal of Animal Science, vol 51 (456-460)

Nurturing and interacting with her young is impossible as a cruel metal frame imprisons her. Her young are removed at three weeks old(24), and within days of their weaning she is again impregnated and returned to a single stall.

(24)   Meo H & Cleary G (2001) "PigStats 2000-01" Australian Pork Corporation

Piglets’ tails are routinely docked and their teeth are clipped — all without anaesthetic(16). This can cause lasting pain.

Any pork products which have not been labelled free range or organic have been produced in an intensive facility.

Sow stalls in Tasmania(25).

(25)   Photo courtesy of Emma Haswell from Brightside Animal Sanctuary in Tasmania, http://www.brightside.org.au

Caged breeding sows with piglets are unable to nurture their young(26).

(26)   Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hallett from Animal Rights Advocates, Western Australia, http://www.ara.org.au/

The average Australian meat-eater consumes 11 cows, 24 pigs, 45 sheep, 1534 chickens, innumerable fish and other animals in their lifetime(27).

(27)   Estimate calculated with formula:

[ (Weight of meat consumed by Australians in one year)/(Weight of meat produced that year) x (number of animals slaughtered that year) ] x (men’s and women’s life expectancies averaged) / (population of Australia)

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) (2006) "Australian Food Statistics 2006" Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)

(for weights and number of animals killed in 2004-5)

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) "Health" Year Book Australia 2005, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra

(for Australian life expectancy 2005)

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) "Population" in Year Book Australia 2006, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra

(for population of Australia June 2004)

"I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy.  It's like... you're just eating misery.  You're eating a bitter life."

ALICE WALKER, Pulitzer Prize Winner, author of The Color Purple


Raised for meat and wool, sheep are the most populous farmed animal in Australia, and sheep  farming is extremely varied. Sheep can be raised on dry, marginal lands where their grazing practices further destroy the land and vegetation, on irrigated pastures where 170,000 litres of water yields a kilogram of wool(28), or in sheds in close confinement like pigs(29).

(28)   Meyer W, Professor of Irrigation, CSIRO (1997) “Water for Food: The Continuing Debate” Source: http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/water_for_food.pdf

(29)   "Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – The Sheep 2ed" (2006) by Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC)Source: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=5389

Woolly sheep are often unsuited to the climates where they are kept. Adult sheep mortality rates can be high, particularly in drought. They die of maggot infestation in their skin, starvation, poisoning and disease, among other causes.(30),(31),(32)

(30)   Harris D & Nowara G (1995) "The characteristics and causes of sheep losses in the Victorian Mallee" Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 72:9 (331-339)

(31)   Bush R, Toribio J & Windsor P (2006) “The impact of malnutrition and other causes of losses of adult sheep in 12 flocks during drought” Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 84:7 (254-260)

(32)   Bourke C (1984) “Staggers in sheep associated with the ingestion of Tribulus terrestris” Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 61:11 (360-363)

Death rates among lambs are extremely high – 20% or more can die in the first few weeks of life. Most die from starvation when either the mother has been malnourished and isn’t producing enough milk, or her nipples have been damaged during shearing. Cold exposure, infection and predation also take lambs.(33),(34),(35),(36)

(33)   Jordan D & Le Feuvre A (1989) "The extent and cause of perinatal lamb mortality in 3 flocks of Merino sheep" Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 66:7 (198-201)

(34)   Jordan D et al "The effect of udder damage on milk yield, lamb growth and survival" in Lindsay D & Pearce D (eds) (1984) "Reproduction in Sheep" Canberra: Australian Academy of Science & Australian Wool Corporation (pp220-222)

(35)   Alexander G "Constraints to lamb survival" in Lindsay D & Pearce D (eds) (1984) "Reproduction in Sheep" Canberra: Australian Academy of Science & Australian Wool Corporation (pp199-209)

(36)   Jordan D (2003) “Sheep breeding – Unsound udders cause lamb loss” Qld Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.  Source: http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/sheep/4987.html

Excruciating mutilations are also the norm: male lambs can be castrated using rubber bands to cut off  circulation, tails are docked, and skin is stripped from their upper thighs, all without pain relief.(29)

Even wool sheep are eventually sent in cramped trucks to slaughter.

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