California's Prop 2 took effect on New Year's Day, and we've been urging major food retailers to honor the letter and spirit of the law by not buying or selling any animal products that come from caged farm animals, with a particular focus on laying hens in cages. While continuing to advance the argument that cage-free production should be the minimum standard in California, and eventually the nation, The HSUS is also today shining a spotlight on the lives and deaths of laying hens in the Midwest. Specifically, after reviewing the report and footage from one of our brave undercover investigators who worked at Butterfield Foods Co. - a slaughter plant in Minnesota - I say, without hesitation, that laying hens are some of the most abused animals on the planet. They face abject misery and privation throughout their lives and then terror and inhumane treatment during transport and slaughter.
Our investigation, with results and footage released to the press, law enforcement and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, pulls back the curtain to expose the final, painful misery that "spent" hens - whose bodies are worn out by egg production and who are then sold for cheap meat - endure at Butterfield. This is, to my knowledge, the first-ever look inside a "spent" hen slaughter plant, and it reveals that birds shipped from battery cage operations throughout the United States and Canada arrive battered and emotionally helpless, with many severely weakened or debilitated by broken bones and starvation. The company has a painfully untrue motto – "We Love Old Hens."