Eggs are seen as a staple breakfast food in the US, and Americans now eat an average of one egg every weekday. In 2021, we consumed about 284 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 285 eggs per year. Laying hens will naturally live for five or more years, but after just 18 months of laying, a modern hen’s productivity begins to decline. This is when most commercial laying hens are slaughtered in the EU. However, in the US, hens are kept much longer up to 27.5 months after undergoing forced molting (this is banned in the EU).
Hens will naturally molt, shedding their old plumage in order to grow new feathers to keep them warm during the colder months. When hens are forcibly molted on commercial farms, they are put on a poor-quality diet containing low energy or excess minerals for a period of time. This causes the hens to lose weight, stop laying eggs, and lose their feathers before they regrow their full plumage and return to an improved cycle of egg-laying. Hens undergoing forced molting are at a significant risk of death due to the stress of their weight loss and susceptibility to cold conditions. About 22% of all laying hens in the US in 2021 were molted.
There are a number of welfare issues for egg-laying hens.