Check our latest report about the cage-free transition in Latin America
Would you endure living in a cage, unable to move, confined in an extreme manner and among the remains of others who have already died? Sure, you wouldn't survive, but that's the reality of millions of hens in the egg industry in Brazil and Latin America. More than 90% of the hundreds of millions of chickens used for industrial egg production in Brazil and Latin America spend their entire lives confined in so-called battery cages. In them, birds cannot even walk or spread their wings.
Each cage confines 5 to 10 animals together, and each hen has a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper to live on. Many do not survive and those who de are often forced to live with the remains of those who have already died. Because of this enormous cruelty, conventional battery cages have already been banned across the European Union, New Zealand and several US states. Canada has also committed to ending this confinement system gradually.
In Latin America, the Sinergia Animal team has been battling this abuse and demanding that large companies commit to ending this cruelty in their supply chains. And we are winning!
Major fast-food chains like McDonald's, Subway and Burger King have announced they will eliminate the use of battery cages throughout Latin America.
In the mayonnaise sector, 10 of the most famous brands in Brazil are already committed to ending the use of cruel battery cages: Unilever (Hellmann's and Arisco mayonnaise), Bunge (Soya, Salad and Primor mayonnaise), Cargill (Maria and Liza), Kraft Heinz (Mayonnaise Heinz and Quero) and Hemmer.
In the industrial bakery sector, the Bimbo Group, owner of the Pullmann and Ana Maria brands, has adopted a global cage-free policy. Two of the largest foodservice companies in Latin America, Sodexo and Compass Group, have also announced the end of cage confinement for hens in their supply chains.
WE WANT THE END OF CAGES IN LATIN AMERICA
We know that no kind of animal exploitation is good, but since we cannot end the livestock industry overnight, we can at least fight for the animals to have more decent conditions.
In cage-free production, animals can move and perform most of their natural behaviors, which significantly reduces their suffering.
In cage-free systems, hens live in sheds without access to outside areas. That is, they do not have the opportunity to go out to pasture to graze on the grass or on the ground.
However, inside the sheds, they have access to enriched areas that have nest boxes to lay eggs, areas with straw to graze and perches to climb.
FREE-RANGE AND ORGANIC
Hens have access to pastures where they can enjoy sunlight and spend time looking for food. The feed is plant-based and antibiotics are not used.
The organic system goes beyond the free-range and does not allow chickens to have their beaks cut and the food given to the animals has to be organically produced without pesticides.
Does cage-free mean cruelty-free?
Cage-free systems have great potential to reduce animal suffering. Eliminating cages allows animals to move, socialize with each other, and perform various natural behaviors that are important to their welfare.
However, in both cage-free and cage systems, male chicks are shredded alive with only a few hours of life, being cruelly discarded because they do not lay eggs and thus have no use for the industry. This practice is already being eliminated in the United States and we will fight to make it happen in Latin America.
One problem that can also occur in cage-free systems when they are not well managed is that animals become stressed and begin to peck. And this can result in outbreaks of feather plucking or even cannibalism.
In addition, in cage-free systems hens are also sent to the slaughterhouse. That is: when they no longer produce eggs in the expected proportions, they are squeezed into small boxes and transported to the slaughterhouse to be killed, often quite cruelly.