Today's industrially produced birds have been selectively bred for enormous body mass. Many of them cannot stand or walk after a few months of life. They are not healthy animals, and they suffer chronic pain.
Today, the New York Times covers two of the pitched debates in our society about animals -- the controversy over the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research and the industrial confinement of laying hens in cages for egg production.
The assurances from the egg industry that its operators maintain safe and clean facilities, treat animals humanely, and do it all at low cost are a charade. The eggs may seem cheap, but the costs are passed on in terms of health costs.
The lifelong extreme confinement of laying hens in tiny cages is not just inhumane, it's also been linked to human disease. Every one of the eggs recently recalled for Salmonella came from hens confined in cages.