Spent laying hens are often caught and loaded in a brutal manner. This is not necessarily because chicken-catchers are mean people, but rather because the birds are worth very little at the end of their “productive life” and thus the slaughter industry and supermarkets put enormous pressure to keep costs low. Chicken-catchers are forced to catch and load birds at extreme speeds in very difficult conditions and with only a small number of people. We do not find the current situation acceptable. We want to show that catching and loading hens can be done gently and still efficiently, if more catchers are hired to do the job and if they are paid better. Sure, this will cost industry more, but that is no excuse to tolerate the current methods. To watch a video showing how hens are commercially caught, click HERE and also HERE.
After we wrote a blog about this concern in De Boerderij, a Dutch agricultural newspaper, an egg farmer contacted us. We suggested that we test out more humane ways of catching and loading birds and see how many people are needed to do the job efficiently but still gently. We also suggested that he try the new crates from Coevorden, that were designed based on our request to have access doors on the side. Tonight a small team of 7 EonA people practiced, together with the farmer, catching and loading 100 hens upright and in a careful manner. The plan is to catch and load all 4500 of his birds in the near future, when he is ready to empty out his barn. These birds will still go for slaughter, but we can at least reduce the suffering and stress caused during loading. We would like to thank this special farmer for being open-minded and willing to try out new ideas. He definitely is a compassionate man who also wants his birds to be treated as humanely as possible.