The life of
a caged hen

The true cost of a box of eggs


Hens are very social animals who like to forage for food, take dust-baths, perch and take care of their families. Selectively bred to produce the maximum number of eggs, hens on egg farms often spend up to two years packed in wire cages with sixty other birds. The cages are so small and crowded that hens cannot even spread their wings or exhibit other natural behaviours.


Male chicks cannot lay eggs and as they are not the same breed as the chickens that are used for meat, they’re deemed worthless by the industry. After being separated from the females, they are gassed to death and disposed of like rubbish.

Caged Hens - UK Egg Farm - Animal Equality
Intense confinement

Did you know that in the UK, about half of hens on egg farms are packed into wire cages? On average, each hen has less usable living space than a standard piece of A4 paper. Inside these cages they spend hours on hard wire floors which can cut their feet. Because of the living conditions, hens often die in their cages. They are sometimes left to rot in the same space alongside living birds.


Hens are mutilated in the egg industry. Due to the stress of such intense confinement, hens engage in unnatural behaviours. Aggressive pecking and even cannibalism are common. Rather than giving hens more space, the chicks have the end of their sensitive beaks removed by an infra red beam without any painkillers.



hours hens suffer
for just one egg


hens crammed
in each cage


male chicks killed
every year in the UK


hens used for
eggs in the UK


of hens in the
UK live in cages

Beyond the Cruelty

The egg industry is detrimental to both our health and the planet.

Eggs and the environment

Much like the animal agriculture industry as a whole, factory egg farms have major environmental consequences. For every egg consumed, 22 grams of greenhouse gases are produced. And like all intensive farms, waste from egg farms often pollutes local waterways.

Photo: Voyagerix /

Eggs and your health

Consuming eggs comes with several risks to our health. Many eggs that look normal actually contain Salmonella – a dangerous pathogen that can make you ill. Many chickens carry the bacteria which can contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are formed. Eggs can also become contaminated from the droppings of birds. People infected with Salmonella may experience diarrhoea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Photo: Rido /

Relevant campaigns

Hens used for their eggs suffer immensely. Animal Equality’s investigators are working in tandem with our education and corporate outreach departments to help expose cruelty, educate the public, and obtain corporate commitments to ban cages.

First-ever investigations to help hens

Animal Equality presented the first-ever investigations into the cruel egg industry in both Mexico and Brazil – paving the way for a national dialogue around the way these delicate animals are exploited for food. The investigations also led to several corporate outreach victories improving the lives of caged hens.

International ACHIEVEMENTS

Through investigations and corporate outreach, Animal Equality has secured more than 60 policy commitments from corporations aimed at improving the lives of hens.


Huevos Guillen

Spanish egg producer, Huevos Guillen, commits to eliminating cages from their supply system by 2025 after negotiations with Animal Equality. This policy will affect 5 million hens a year.



After negotiations with Animal Equality, Starbucks commits to eliminating cages for hens in Brazil by 2025. This policy will affect 10,000 hens a year.



French multinational Carrefour goes cage free in Italy after negotiations with Animal Equality. The measure that will affect 500,000 hens will be implemented by the company in 2020.

What can I do to help?

Help hens!

Hens are smart, social, sensitive animals who deserve a much better life than this.

Helping them is now easier than it has ever been. Simply leave eggs out of your diet. Today, a trip to the supermarket reveals there are more cruelty-free plant-based options than ever before.

© Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

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