There are more chickens in the world than any other bird. In fact, more than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs. Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens, whilst those farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens.
The natural life of chickens
Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy or “pecking order.” They would naturally spend their day foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
When a cockerel finds food, he may call the hens to eat it by clucking in a high pitch and picking up and dropping the food. This behaviour can also be seen in mother hens, calling their chicks.
Chickens tend to range widely, using the cover of trees and vegetation for safety from predators.
Life on some farms and small-holdings is just like that. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the 50 billion chickens reared each year experience intensive farming methods.
Help Free Battery Hens
26 million laying hens are confined in battery cages in South Africa. In a battery cage, hens have an allotted space allowance of 450sq cm per hen (less than an A4 sheet of paper), with five hens crammed into each cage.
This cruel system of extreme confinement which defies four of the five Freedoms for Animals, was officially banned in the UK and Europe as from January 2012 and consumers the world over are calling for similar bans in their countries.
Woolworths banned battery eggs in all its stores nationwide in 2004 but no other supermarket chain in South Africa is willing even to phase-out battery eggs from their stores. The 26 million hens in battery cages in South Africa live and die without ever having seen the sun, soil or even a blade of grass.
BUT... For every half-dozen eggs you buy weekly that are free range, one more hen finds her freedom.