Yesterday a massive barn fire erupted at an egg farm in Bryan, Texas. The blaze sent plumes of smoke billowing into the sky and engulfed at least two chicken houses—one of them still containing chickens. Over 100 firefighters were called to the scene, and it could take days to control the blaze.
While it is not currently known how many animal lives were lost in the fire, commercial chicken houses can hold more than 20,000 chickens at a time. Most of these hens spend nearly their entire lives in barren, crowded wire “battery” cages, where each bird has floor space no larger than a standard sheet of printer paper. The chickens in Bryan, Texas, were surely terrified and unable to move as the fire swept through the barn.
This fire broke out at Feather Crest Farms, which is owned by MPS Egg Farms—one of the top U.S. egg producers according to their website. The farm’s rural location means firefighters have no access to fire hydrants, forcing them to rely on water shuttled in on trucks.
Sadly, barn fires like this are not uncommon. When they happen, companies often highlight their financial losses or focus on whether humans were injured. The animals burned to death in the overcrowded farms are rarely the center of attention. These fires—and the industry’s response to them—demonstrate how animals trapped in the agricultural industry are treated as commodities.
Chickens are incredible animals. They pass down knowledge from generation to generation, can recognize dozens of individuals, and even dream! They deserve so much more than a miserable life in an egg farm.