Back in the 1920s, chicken egg farmers were pretty small-scale operations. Even the big guys only had about 400, maybe 500, hens, and these birds all just waddled around in the dirt, coo-cooing and laying eggs everywhere. People then had to collect those eggs by hand and clean them manually. Sometimes animals would attack the chickens in the night. Sometimes they attacked each other. Sometimes they stepped in their own waste and got sick, or they hung around with other animals or birds and got sick. Quite a few of them died. Life as a chicken has its risks.
Agriculture has come a long way in the past 100 years. Was it going in the right direction? Who knows!