Sweden: 104 hens liberated from battery farm (11/5/2014)

On the night of the 11th of May 104 hens were rescued from a Swedish battery farm for the simple reason that every hen has the right to a natural life fulfilling their natural needs. The egg industry in Sweden exploits million of hens every year because people demand to eat eggs. The only hope for each individual hen is that somebody on the outside decides to act. The hope for those left behind and for those that will take their place in the future is that our habit of eating animal products ceases and that the way society views animals changes drastically.

Allow us to explain how one of Sweden’s current battery farms looks. We observed several buildings lined up in rows. A strong stench flowed from the extraction fans. That was how we knew there were animals inside. Every building was outfitted with cages in several sections, from floor to ceiling, in long rows that ran the length of the building.

Thousands of hens kept under the same roof, locked in cages with limited space to move. The air was heavy, thick with dust, stuffy and warm, making it difficult to breathe. Everything was mechanized. Food was delivered on one conveyor belt as eggs rolled out onto another. The cement floors were dusty and their metal cages dirty. We tried to imagine what it would feel like to be trapped in a lift, together with a group of people. How it would feel to not be able to stretch ones arms, to have a limited area to move around, with nothing to do and no access to fresh air. How long would we last? In physical appearance people differ from hens but we still share a lot in common; the ability to feel pain, frustration and stress. We all have the desire to live our lives in peace in accordance with our natural behavior. We have a responsibiliy to treat all living creatures with respect. Standing eye to eye with a battery farmed hen made the decision to help as many as possible an easy choice.

The issue of battery farms has been debated over many years in Sweden. One of the advocates for hens not being kept in cages was children’s author Astrid Lindgren. In the 1980s she received the Animal Welfare Act as a birthday present from the Swedish government. They promised that battery farms would be banned and caged hens outlawed. Yet this promise was broken, as hundreds of thousands of hens are still today kept in cages to produce eggs.

Sweden’s Animal Welfare Act says, among other things, that all animals shall be given the possibility to act according to their natural needs. At the same time it is accepted that male chicks born into the egg industry are killed directly after birth. The industry is free to breed and manipulate hens so that they lay an unnatural amount of eggs. By producing an unnatural amount of egg shell, the hens suffer from calcium deficiency that results in broken legs and wings. It is legal to keep hens indoors for their entire lives. It is legal to keep hens in cages so small and constrictive that the animals become stressed and ill. And it is also normal for hens to suffer a reduced life span due to such stress. When they’re no longer productive, and therefore not profitable, they are sent to slaughter. How are these animals meant to live according to their natural needs in a completely unnatural environment and under such unnatural conditions?

They are individuals designed to be effective and profitable – nothing else. The animals are not unique individuals for us to care for but rather products or cogs in a big machine. We live in a society where the systematic exploitation of animals is so great it has become normal to think that such unnatural behaviour is natural and logical. Artificial massproduction, breeding and manipulation of animal bodies, extreme indoor breeding facilities in large industrial buildings and slaughter at just a month, half a year or one year of age is a sad reality. And it is the animals that lose their lives that pay the true price for our food choices. Our society, politicians and businesses try to excuse themselevs by claiming that we have the world’s best animal welfare standards and that it is important to protect animals. Clearly this is a marketing gimick that doesn’t reflect the realities we have witnessed. It’s a failed attempt to try and justify our behavior. It is easier and more profitable to spread a pretend image of how our society protects animals than to present the true extent of this systematic exploitation.

We all have an obligation, both as a society and as individuals. We cannot continue to avert our gaze from how we treat other animals and we must act according to our conscience. This rescue is one way to act and we hope that many more will join us in saying that enough is enough.

The 104 hens that we resuced were an indiscernible loss for a farm that imprisoned thousands. But we saved the entire world for 104 individuals. They have now been released to loving homes where they are set to live a life of opportunity. The freedom to go outside for the first time, to stretch their wings in the sunlight and to scratch around in the grass. For us the sight of them doing so is indescribable. We can’t imagine what it must be like for them.

For the right of all animals to live in freedom, and until all are free,

The Rescue Group

*The rescuers choose to remain anonymous in order to continue rescuing animals in the future.

Source: Bite Back

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