Last updated 22 September 2020

Layer-hen breeder flocks are kept in large barren sheds without access to the outdoors.  Chickens reach sexual maturity around 18-22 weeks and sheds usually house roughly 10 hens to every rooster. Roosters in parent bird sheds can often be aggressive and fight over hens. Parent birds are kept until they are no longer considered economically viable and are killed. 

A parent bird shed.

The way in which breeder flocks are housed has eradicated roosters' usual courtship dance around hens, which lets the hen know to crouch into a sexually receptive position. When hens fail to crouch, roosters often mount them regardless, and when hens try to escape, roosters will often attack them and force them to mate. Living in close confines, hens have nowhere to escape these attacks and it is not uncommon for hens to have sores on their backs from roosters continually mounting them.

Breeder flocks' feed consumption is restricted to stop them from becoming too large to breed effectively. This means breeder flocks are likely always in a state of intense hunger.

Eggs are collected from parent bird sheds soon after they are laid and taken to the hatchery to incubate until they hatch.