Eggs are seen as a staple breakfast food in the US, and Americans now eat an average of one egg every weekday. In 2012, we consumed about 250 eggs per person in the US.
High production values
Laying hens are bred specifically for egg laying. In the US, modern commercial hens produce a yield of approximately 275 eggs per year. Chickens will naturally live for six or more years, but after just 12 months of laying, a modern hen’s productivity begins to decline. This is when most commercial laying hens are slaughtered in the EU. In the US most hens are forced moulted (this is banned in the EU). This means hens are put on starvation rations at this stage for a period of time before they then return to an improved cycle of egg laying. It was estimated that 75% of all laying hens in the US in 2003 were moulted.
The barren battery cage
While barren battery cages have been banned in the EU since the beginning of 2012, more than three billion hens worldwide are still kept in battery cages. In the US, 71% of all egg-laying hens (as of August 2020) are housed in cruel battery cages.
Barren battery cage eggs come from hens kept in small cages in which they are unable to express their natural behaviors. They are prevented from foraging for food, nesting, roosting, and dust-bathing. This causes hens extreme physical and psychological discomfort.
There are a number of welfare issues for egg laying hens.