Covert investigations by Aussie Farms, Animal Liberation ACT and Animal Liberation NSW

Get the facts

Find out what really happens to the hens before their eggs become your breakfast, covering battery cages, barn laid and free range.

Layer Hens

Egg-laying hens are highly social animals with complex cognitive abilities, and pain receptors that give them the ability to feel pain and distress. They can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species and each know their own place within social structures known as "pecking orders". Layer hens have more than 30 types of vocalizations to distinguish between threats, and begin to teach calls to their chicks before they even hatch. Find out more about hens...

General Practices

In an attempt to prevent injuries from fighting between hens whose natural instincts have been suppressed, factory farmers routinely conduct beak-trimming or 'de-beaking' on chicks, burning off the upper and lower beak through the application of an electrically heated blade. Meanwhile, male chicks, who cannot lay eggs and are therefore useless to the industry, are gassed or ground up alive at a day old. Layer hens are killed at 1.5 years of age. Find out more about the general practices...

Battery Cages

Currently in Australia, 11-12 million 'battery' hens are confined to small wire cages in which they are unable to perform most of their natural behaviours, confined row after row in large sheds with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of other hens. Each hen lives in a space equivalent to an A4 sized piece of paper, usually sharing their cage with several others. An estimated 1 in 6 battery hens live with untreated broken bones. Find out more about battery cages...

Barn Laid

Hens in barn laid housing systems are not confined in cages so in theory they can move around. However, high stocking densities restrict hens' ability to move freely and exercise, and to form or know their place within the social "pecking order". Being confined indoors restricts hens' ability to perform the normal behaviours that provide quality of life. They are still de-beaked and the male chicks still killed. Find out more about barn laid eggs...

Free Range Egg Farming

As there is no legal definition of the term free range in Australia, standards between free range egg farms can vary dramatically. While 1,500 birds per hectare is the recommended maximum, this is not enforceable and large scale producers are keeping their hens at much higher densities to cash in on the growing market for free range products. Free range hens are still debeaked and killed at 18 months of age, and the male chicks are still killed. Find out more about free range egg farming...