A large fire destroyed a barn and killed about 300,000 cage-free laying hens at a Konos egg farm in Otsego, Michigan, in early January. Konos Inc. produces at Vande Bunte Eggs, where the fire took place.

Multiple fire departments responded to the incident. Farm spokesman Brian Burch told local news station, WWMT, that 50 people worked at the farm and were all safe, except for minor smoke inhalation.

While one barn was lost, firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from harming another barn, which housed about 250,000 hens, on the property. It took several hours to bring the fire under control.

PETA responds

"In honor of the 300,000 chickens who died when a barn at Vande Bunte Eggs, PETA plans to place a billboard in the area pointing out who's responsible for the birds' deaths: everyone who hasn't gone vegan," a news release from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said.

The PETA press release goes on to paint a horrific situation, but let's be real here for a second, they're stating the obvious and, as far as I am concerned, the following statement is a moot point: "Each of these birds was an individual who felt pain and fear as smoke and flames engulfed the barn," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman.

I'm not trying to downplay or belittle the awful situation that occurred at Konos, however, Reiman's statement only declares the obvious and any human should have the common sense to realize that fire is scary for any living being, human or animal, who is stuck inside of it.

Plus, I would argue that animals that are living in a barn have better access to cleaner water, better feed options, safety from predators and even alarm systems to prevent these situations while they are alive than do animals that live outside a barn.

"We are thankful for the work of all the fire departments that helped today," Rob Knect, Konos' vice president of operations, said in a written statement on the fire. "Their quick actions kept our farm safe..."

Perhaps, PETA should sponsor a billboard thanking the firemen that got the fire under control and managed to save the additional 250,000 birds on the property.

Reiman went on to state that, "PETA urges everyone to practice kindness to sensitive birds — and pigs, cows, and other animals — by going vegan." I guess I am confused, how is going vegan going to stop fires? This seems like an ignorant thing to say when animals are dying in wildfires by the thousands.

PETA is planning to place similar ads in West Alexandria, Ohio, where an unknown number of chickens died in a barn fire on December 19, and in Federalsburg, Maryland, where nearly 16,000 died in a barn fire on December 20.

Is PETA calling out cage-free already?

In the same press release as I mentioned above, PETA also stated the following, "Hens on 'cage-free' egg farms like Vande Bunte Eggs are confined by the tens of thousands to cramped barns where each bird has no more than 1 square foot of space. They're sent to be slaughtered once their bodies wear out and they're no longer considered useful for egg production..."

It's infuriating to see PETA try and disparage cage-free production when it, as well as other animal rights groups, have pushed so hard for cage-free production in many states, including California.

The even more frustrating part is that they chose to get this message out in a press release that is about a company that is both California compliant and United Egg Producers certified.

I've written blogs before questioning if PETA would try to push past cage-free and onto something they feel is even more acceptable for the animals and I'm afraid this is the first sign I've seen of it doing just that.