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Cruelty-free Easter eggs make for a better holiday

Cruelty-free Easter eggs make for a better holiday. Easter is a time when we decorate eggs and celebrate the arrival of spring and new life. However, for the millions of hens that laid those eggs, reasons for celebration are scarce. Life for the majority of laying hens in Canada is far from the idyllic farm-fresh lifestyle that many of us imagine. Most aren't free to run and cruel conditions for laying hens prevails.

Cruelty-free Easter eggs are harder to find than you might imagine.  In fact, 98 per cent of the 26 million egg laying hens in Canada live in cramped cages, giving each of them roughly the size of sheet of paper to live their life and lay their eggs.

Imagine  living in an elevator with eight or nine other people, all day, every day, for the rest of your life. It would not take long before the lack of exercise, fresh air, and comfortable rest became unbearable.  This is the cruel reality for most of the chickens laying the eggs which become Easter eggs in Canada.

This misery is hidden when we buy eggs at our local store.

Battery cages, as these intensively confined systems are known, restrict hens’ natural behaviors– including scratching, perching, dust bathing, flapping their wings and finding a secluded nest to lay their eggs. Battery cages amount to nothing more than torture inflicted on intelligent, sentient animals capable of feeling pain, fear, distress, frustration and empathy. It should then be no surprise that independent research consistently shows that hens suffer and undergo extreme stress when they are permanently housed in a space so small that they cannot even extend their limbs.

One can hardly blame the consumer for feeling confused approaching Easter about which eggs are cruelty-free eggs when labels such as “farm fresh”, “omega-3 enriched” and “barn laid” (all of which are meaningless in terms of welfare standards) jump out at us from every carton.

Egg producers count on that confusion to keep us guessing about how their eggs are really produced. Currently, the only hens whose living conditions are verified by an outside observer are those on certified organic farms. Free-range and free-run hens are also housed caged-free, with varying amounts of space and outdoor access.

This Easter, if you choose to buy eggs, choose eggs from hens that have not been sentenced subjected to cruel conditions.

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