In very sad news, a fire at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Michigan this week killed what we estimate is thousands of birds. The farm is the largest egg producer in Michigan, with 6 million hens suffering in captivity. No humans were hurt in the fire, and its cause is still being investigated.
Meanwhile, chickens in Michigan face another threat. In 2009, the state became a leader when lawmakers passed Chapter 46 of the Animal Industry Act, a welfare law to ban battery cages (cruel cages for egg-laying hens). But now, with the deadline looming to enforce the law, members of the animal agriculture industry are trying to push the deadline back another five years, which means millions of hens will continue to suffer in cages.
Unfortunately, death by barn fire is not uncommon—in the past six years alone, an estimated 3 million farmed animals have died in such fires. In 2017, for example, a barn fire in Indiana killed a staggering 1 million chickens, and just a month before that, a fire in Utah killed 300,000 birds. While many of these fires could be prevented with proper inspection, maintenance, and detection systems, no laws in the U.S. currently require fire protection in barns.
That’s why Mercy For Animals has signed a coalition letter calling on the National Fire Protection Association’s Technical Committee on Animal Housing Facilities to update its safety standards by 2022. The requests are basic and commonsense: to require immediate notification of emergency forces in case of fire, to install smoke detectors and fire alarms, and to require annual facility hazard inspections.
Although not everyone agrees that hens shouldn’t be locked in cages or used for their eggs at all, we can all agree that death by incineration is awful and, if preventable, wasteful and unnecessary.
But we can stand up and protect animals forced to endure these conditions. Join our Hen Heroes network to take quick daily actions to help prevent cruelty to factory-farmed animals.