By Bruce Friedrich
As you can see in this video from a Mercy for Animals investigation into a McDonald’s supplier, the animals’ muscles and bones deteriorate from lack of use, and these inquisitive and doting mothers go insane from having almost every natural desire thwarted.
I remember when I saw my first video from a battery cage; I couldn’t believe the mummified bodies of hens in cages with live hens, the investigators peeling the rotting corpses from the cages. I was sure it was a particularly bad “farm.” But it turned out that all of the many subsequent undercover investigations found this same gruesome reality in battery cage facilities, and it’s common enough that the industry has a name for it — “cage fatigue.” It happens when the animals’ bodies deteriorate so thoroughly that they become paralyzed, causing them to dehydrate to death. Click here or here for documentation and video.
The animals also go insane. It’s worth remembering that chickens do extremely well in tests of cognitive function and behavioral sophistication. Discovery Magazine reported on research from the University of Bristol: “Chickens do not just live in the present but can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control… something previously attributed only to humans and other primates…” But in battery cages, chickens can barely move; like a dog or cat would in similar conditions, the animals go insane from the lack of mental stimulation.
In Europe, McDonald’s has received awards for getting rid of this same system beginning in 1998. In 2008, I attended a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament in the UK at which a McDonald’s Europe executive said about getting rid of battery cages, “We believe this is the right thing to do. This is the latest step in McDonald’s evolution from being a fast food company to a company that serves good food, fast.”
He was right, and it’s way past time for McDonald’s in the United States to listen. McDonald’s nearly-exclusive use of battery cage eggs in the U.S. is indefensible, grotesquely unethical, and hugely inconsistent with its own policies in other countries. Eating at McDonald’s, of course, directly supports the abuse.
It’s worth noting that Burger King — McDonald’s top competitor — has pledged to do away with its support for the system completely.
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Bruce Friedrich is Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives at Farm Sanctuary.