alpha-betes :Over 95% of egg-laying hens in the U.S spend their entire lives crammed into battery cages so small they cannot even spread their wings. In these maddening conditions the birds develop neurotic stress behaviors including injurious feather-pecking of their cagemates. The egg industry’s response is “beak-cutting,” or “de-beaking,” slicing off a portion of each hen’s beak with a hot blade or laser, without anesthetic. Chickens’ beaks, much like our own fingertips, are loaded with specialized sensory nerves. Debeaking is so painful for these birds that some die of shock on the spot (see bottom right); for others, eating becomes so excruciating that they die of starvation. Debeaking of chicks is routine and permitted under most misleading welfare labels in grocery stores, including “Cage free,” “Free range,” and “Humane Certified.” Even Trader Joe’s “cage free” eggs come from debeaked hens.