On Tuesday night, a storage building caught fire at Ohio Fresh Eggs, Ohio’s largest egg factory farm. The massive blaze brought on a power outage which killed 250,000 hens. It is with great sorrow that we reflect on the many lives needlessly lost in this terrible tragedy. Vexing, too, is that many of these deaths could have been prevented if the animals were not forced to live in such heinous conditions.
This isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed how incredibly dangerous the conditions created by intensive confinement systems can become. In a terrible disaster 10 years ago, tornadoes ripped through the site, formerly known as Buckeye Egg Farm, causing the deaths of nearly one million hens. When rescue workers arrived, they found dead and injured chickens everywhere, trapped inside mangled cages without food or water. Farm Sanctuary was able to help rescue some 5,000 birds, more than 1,200 of whom came to our New York Shelter. Symphony, a sweet and shy hen, is the last remaining survivor of this terrible disaster. All of the hens she arrived with have since passed away, their lives cut short as a consequence of the cruel — but routine — factory farming practices they endured in their youth.
How many more deaths will it take for us to realize that factory farms are a recipe for disaster? Inside these massive operations, any minor malfunction can be a death sentence for the animals trapped inside. In these filthy and poorly ventilated buildings, the air is so polluted with dust and ammonia that even brief electrical failure can create life-threatening conditions. Animals are packed so tightly into cages and crates that they are unable to flee when disaster strikes. Battery cages commonly confine four to six hens at a time, none of whom are able to stretch their wings or stand fully upright. And because battery cages are stacked row upon row in monolithic warehouses, the death toll is guaranteed to be huge.
In Ohio, we’re working to help put an initiative on the ballot to prohibit cruel confinement systems used in factory farming. We need all the help we can get, so please act now.