While strolling through the grocery store, it’s easy to forget how things like eggs so conveniently end up in a cardboard carton every day. Most people rarely stop to think about the animals that are involved in making these items possible. Tragically this has lead egg-laying hens to be some of the most abused animals in the industry. To help raise awareness for hen’s plight,  photographer JoAnne McArthur has created a series of heartwrenching images featuring battery hens.

To meet the mass demand for eggs, many hens are subjected to a miserable life in battery cages. They’re kept in dark, tight enclosures, and will likely never see the light of day.  A standard 18-by-20 inch cage will typically hold five hens, which is not even enough room for the animals to spread their wings.

Stunning and Sad Photos of Battery Cage Hens
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Egg-laying chickens are packed by the hundreds of thousands into these metal cages. Battery cages confine about 95 percent of hens in this country. Millions of hens in America are suffering every day.

Stunning and Sad Photos of Battery Cage Hens

Life in battery cages often leads to respiratory complications due to the toxic ammonia built up from all their waste. And because of unreliable automatic feeding and water systems used by these farms, thousands of birds die of starvation annually.

Stunning and Sad Photos of Battery Cage Hens
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Today, hens produce on average 250 eggs a year. One hundred years ago, that number was only 100. It’s shocking to think of the lengths we’ve gone to in order to meet consumer demands.

Stunning and Sad Photos of Battery Cage Hens

On Facebook McArthur writes, “We’ll look back on this period in history as an abomination. I still can’t imagine who actually sanctioned this horror. Oh yeah: the profiteers, and an ignorant, over-consuming public.”

Stunning and Sad Photos of Battery Cage Hens
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What Can You Do?

Chickens are highly intelligent, sentient beings. Keeping them in these conditions is extremely cruel and inhumane. It’s our duty to respect the lives of these animals and do everything we can to make sure this industry comes to an end. And while many people think that choose free-range or cage-free is a better option, the conditions are not much better. Thankfully, there are many chicken and egg substitutes are not only delicious, but free of all cruelty to animals. By choosing to keep eggs off your plate, you’re telling factory farms that you will not stand for these barbaric practices.

All Image Source: JoAnne McArthur / We Animals