Comparison of a Typical Commercial Battery Cage operation with our Pastured Layers

(and why we feel our eggs are a healthier and more humane product) 

Pastured Layers at the Broken 'B'

Typical Battery Cage Operation  

How humane are the conditions?

We raise our Laying hens in the same healthy, non-crowded manner as our Broilers, with the exception that as the Laying hens reach 6-8 weeks of age they are moved to one of our Pastured laying pens and after a couple days of acclimatization, let out to free range the pastures of the Ranch.

Click here to go to our Broiler page for more information on how our poultry are raised

In a typical Battery Cage Operation the effort is to maximize the profit per square foot. This results in the Hens being forced into crowded conditions. Starving the chickens to force them to molt in order to increase production is a standard technique. 

Because of the crowded, filthy conditions, the hens are fed medicated feed from the time they are old enough eat.

Chicks to Laying Hen

We get our Layers as either day old chicks or the old fashioned way of allowing a brooding hen to hatch a clutch of eggs. We normally have several hens brooding at any one time.  The chicks hatched by their mother stay with her until 6-8 weeks old when they are all moved to a Laying Pen.
The day-old chicks we purchase are carefully cared for by hand and given plenty of room and free access to food and water. 

The female chick is taken to a new environment with hundreds of other day-old or newly hatched chicks. The chicks are kept under heat lamps for warmth, either in 'training' cages or in deep litter sheds. Their food and water are provided via automated electronically controlled methods. Their light is timer-controlled, and large fans keep the air circulating. 

What happens to the male chicks?

Getting male chicks of course happens. Once the chicks are old enough for us to tell the difference in sex, we move most of the extra males to our Pastured Broiler pens to be raised there. A few males are kept with the hens in order to provide a more natural environment and provide fertile eggs for our brooding hens to hatch. We feel this helps to keep the hens happier.


Mixed sexes are raised together

If the chick is a male, it will be killed by gassing. These chicks are often then ground into feed and fed back to the surviving hens. Or they are just discarded in the trash.


Male chicks are discarded

Debeaking

Our chicks are never debeaked. Since we allow our hens to free range and forage for much of their food, we feel debeaking would limit their effectiveness. We also feel that this is a cruel procedure that is unnecessary with proper management. 

Most female chicks undergo 'de-beaking', which means that the bird's beak is partially amputated - many die of shock or their injury after this operation has taken place. This is necessary in the crowded conditions to prevent the hens from pecking each other to death out of boredom and frustration.

The life of a Hen

From about 6-8 weeks of age (depending on the weather) our pullets are outside free ranging. This is the true free ranging, with the hens having the run of the ranch. The only time they are confined is at night when we close the door to the Laying pens after they have returned to roost for the night. This is done to protect the hens from predators. The doors are opened early the next morning to let them start foraging again. Fresh water is always available as is a mixture of grains that supplements the food the hens find themselves. Our poultry never receive medicated feed. Fresh air, sunlight and natural foods are plenty to keep them healthy.


Laying pen with roost and nest boxes

The chick grows up and becomes a pullet. If she has not been in a cage from day one, she will be put in a battery cage made entirely of thin wire mesh when she reaches her eighteenth week of life. The cage measures 20 inches by 20 inches, and she shares this cage with four to seven other birds. The cages are kept in a large windowless building, and are usually stacked in tiers six high. The hens are fed and watered automatically, and their homogenized food is treated with antibiotics, artificial yolk coloring and medication. Their dung is taken away from the cages via conveyor belts. She will stay in the wire battery cage for the rest of her life.


Battery Layers in tiers 6 high

We do everything we can to keep our birds healthy. The care and pride we have in what we produce comes from the close personal attention we pay to our livestock. We strongly believe that we produce a superior product than you can find in the supermarket. And our customers tend to agree. The abuse these hens go through continues throughout their life. If you wish to see more information on this type of abuse, you can find excellent information on the below link. However, since these abuses tend to depress me, I'm going to go out back and watch my hens chase bugs in the sunlight.

Follow this link for more information on the benefits of grassfed animals.

Follow this link for more information on Battery Cage operations.