A fire that ripped through the egg packaging warehouses of Ohio Fresh Eggs, the state's largest egg factory farm, has resulted in the reported deaths of 250,000 hens. The fire started late Tuesday night at the egg farm's Wyandot County facility. In an attempt to contain the blaze, firefighters shut off electricity to the buildings and ripped away walkways that led from the warehouse to nine chicken barns. The lack of electricity appears to have caused nearly a quarter million chickens to die.
Sadly, this fire is just the most recent disaster at Ohio Fresh Eggs that has caused mass death and suffering for animals. Back in 2000, when the farm was known as Buckeye Egg Farm, a tornado destroyed nearly a dozen sheds at the farm's Croton, Ohio site - leaving nearly a million hens mangled in their cages, left to suffer from dehydration, starvation, and exposure to the elements. Farm workers killed hens by bulldozing them alive in their cages into a mass grave, or gassing them in giant trash bins.
Yesterday's fire is yet another reminder of the inherent dangers farmed animals face when subjected to intensive confinement on factory farms - where they are confined to tiny cages and unable to flee from fires, floods, tornados, or other disasters.
In 2004, Mercy For Animals conducted an undercover investigation at Ohio Fresh Eggs - revealing that cruelty to animals runs rampant inside the company's egg barns. Investigators documented up to six hens crowded into each file-drawer-sized wire cage, hens suffering from untreated infections, dead hens left to rot in cages with hens still producing eggs for human consumption, birds trapped in the wire of their cages without access to food or water, and live hens thrown away in trash cans.
The best action consumers can take to protect hens from the dangerous and cruel conditions inherent in factory farming systems is to adopt a healthy and compassionate vegan diet. Ohioans can also take a powerful stand against the intensive confinement of hens, and other farmed animals, by supporting the current effort to place a modest, yet meaningful, farmed animal protection initiative on the state's November ballot.