Eggs in New Zealand

Most of the hens kept to lay eggs in New Zealand are confined to cages on factory farms. There are over three million hens in cages in New Zealand and they produce around 82% of the eggs Kiwis eat. That’s over 800 million eggs laid in cages every year.

Life in a cage

Hens who lay eggs are kept in colony or battery cages each live their whole lives in a space about the size of an iPad. Confinement to such a small space is frustrating for these intelligent, friendly and curious birds. Most hens will have their beaks trimmed without any pain relief to prevent them from pecking one another. They will only live for a small part of their natural life span.

Free range

Many so-called ‘free-range’ hens kept to lay eggs live inside big sheds and never experience life outside. These sheds may have a small door which provides only limited access to the outside world. The flocks farmed in these sheds can be huge, sometimes as many as 8,000 to 15,000 birds. These unnaturally large flocks can cause the birds to become overwhelmed and stressed.

Did you know?

Unless rescued, egg-laying hens, caged or free ranged, are killed at only a fraction of their natural lifespan. This is because these chickens are treated as ‘products,’ with little consideration for their rights. These hens are usually killed at just 18 months of age. Chickens can live for up to 12 years.

Did you know?

Male chicks do not have much of a life at all. They are of no value to the egg industry because they do not lay eggs. These baby chicks are killed soon after they hatch.

Quick facts

  • There are over 3.2 million hens laying eggs on farms in New Zealand
  • One billion eggs are consumed in New Zealand each year
  • 82% of these eggs are from caged hens
  • Most hens laying eggs in cages hens are beak trimmed without pain relief
  • One shed of hens may house as many as 45,000 birds
  • Each hen has a floor space around the size of an iPad
  • Hens kept to lay eggs are killed at around 18 months of age
  • Male chicks are killed as soon as they hatch
  • ‘Free-range’ hens kept to lay eggs (even those with the SPCA tick) still suffer greatly

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”     

Alice Walker – writer and activist

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

How you can help hens kept for eggs

The best way you can help hens in cages is by not buying their eggs! Check out our kind options guide for some delicious egg-free ingredients.

find an egg-free option


Working out what to cook or bake can be overwhelming to begin with. We have you covered with plenty of delicious recipes to choose from.

find a recipe


Education is a big part of ending factory farming. Share what you have learnt by doing a school project on chickens kept for eggs.

do a school project