L214: Horrible conditions of ‘code 2’ chickens at ground farms in France

These 'code 2' chickens will never see daylight, photo: L214/ Abaca/Reuters
These 'code 2' chickens will never see daylight, photo: L214/ Abaca/Reuters

The animal rights organization L214 released a video on Wednesday revealing the horrible conditions in which chickens are kept for the egg industry in France. The so-called ‘code 2’ hens live in ground farms, which are concrete buildings, and never see any daylight.

L214 says that ‘code 2’ chickens are falsely presented as a good alternative to hens kept in cages. A video shot at farms in the Côtes-d’Armor and Vendée regions shows hens crammed onto shelves, with no access to the outside or natural light.

Some hens are sick and are not given veterinary help, and some hens have died and are rotting next to live animals, the video reveals.

On the packaging of ‘code 2’ eggs in supermarkets, it sometimes looks as if the chickens have access to hay, but in reality, they walk on wire netting, very unnatural and painful for their feet.

L214 urges supermarkets to stop supporting these ‘code 2’ eggs, because this breeding method causes significant suffering to the hens: stress, overcrowding, low resistance to disease, pecking or cannibalism and lack of care for sick or injured animals.

The number of hens kept under these conditions has doubled in a few years; six million chickens live in these concrete buildings in France. Each farm can keep tens of thousands of animals in buildings without access to the outside. 

Numbered eggs
In France, the breeding method is shown on egg packages with numbers. The number 3 means “eggs of chickens raised in cages”: hens spend their whole lives in small cages without ever seeing the light of day.

The number 2 means “eggs of hens raised on the ground”, which sounds better than number 3, but the footage from L214 reveals that these chickens still suffer immensely; the animals are not locked in cages but locked in buildings without daylight.

The number 1 means “eggs of hens raised in the open air”: they are also raised in large buildings, but they can also go outside. And number 0 indicates “chicken eggs from organic farming”. On farms of this type, the total number of hens is limited to 6000.

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