My personal opinion and that of people I know who have rescued enriched colony caged hens is that there is no difference in health between the battery and colony caged hens. I also believe from evidence I have seen that there is not much difference between barn versus free range hens either. Because of the laws, free range hens can be kept indoors in barns with not much room to move around (like broiler chickens), and this is marketed as “free range.”
This a moving, non graphic video that tells the magnificent story of one farmer of caged egg laying chickens who apparently had a change of heart and released them to Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary in Australia. For the first time in their lives, the rescued chickens in this video are getting an opportunity to exhibit their natural behaviors. The video highlights some of the chicken’s most basic pleasures in life: stretching and flapping their wing, sunbathing, dustbathing, scratching in the earth and forming social bonds with others in their flock.
Spend enough time reading about the quotidian tribulations of poultry proprietors and you quickly learn about the centrality of violence in chicken ownership. In point of fact the chickens, so long as they are pumping out eggs with sufficient speed, are typically treated with a measure of decency, but woe to any creature that comes between a chicken owner and her precious eggs.
People often ask me why I have chickens. “Is it for the eggs?,” they ask. Now of course, what this question implies is that there is no other value to chickens than the eggs they produce. In fact, I find people far more interested in the fancy colors and sizes of chicken eggs than I do about the birds who lay them. Isn’t that interesting? We’re a culture that is fascinated with objects. And the egg is perhaps the most poignant symbol of fertility in many cultures, including our own. And in a way, this symbol has distracted us from something much more important which I hope to touch on here.
Sweet Pea is one of the adopted chickens in our care since 2009 who now needs surgery and hospitalization for a condition due to her egg laying. This video covers Sweet Pea’s recent visit to the vet for an initial exam. If you would like to help, we welcome your donations. You can make a donation at freefromharm.org. See the donate option in the main menu. Thanks in advance! And please share this video to educate others about egg laying hens. As Sweet Pea’s situation demonstrates, there is no such thing as a “cruelty-free” egg.
The Story of an Egg is a short documentary that claims “we need a lexicon of sustainability.” Has a nice ring to it, right? By using factory farming as a moral baseline, the film would have us believe that the simple solution to feeling good about the eggs you buy is to look for the “pastured” or “pasture-raised” label.
“What do you do with all the eggs if you don’t eat them?” is the most common question I get about the chickens in my care. The assumption underlying this question is that chickens lay eggs in the same way that fruit falls from trees. Now the truth of the matter: The hen’s reproductive systems is manipulated by breeders to produce those eggs through selective and genetic breeding technologies that push the limits of the bird’s capacity to reproduce, and her body can only keep up for a short window of her life (1 to 2 years).
“Any time consumers of meat, eggs or dairy advocate for ‘humane’ treatment of farm animals, they confront an unavoidable paradox: the movement to treat farm animals better is based on the idea that it is wrong to subject them to unnecessary harm; yet, killing animals we have no need to eat constitutes the ultimate act of unnecessary harm.”
This short video chronicles the life of Angelica, a sweet little hen rescued on Thanksgiving Day. Free from Harm director Robert Grillo explains the rescue. the care Angelica received and her untimely passing on December 18th. This video also probes the bigger questions about the egg hatcheries where hens like Angelica are bred and their connection to the backyard chicken movement, factory egg farming, organic, free-range and cage-free labeling and the deeply misunderstood obstacles that egg-laying hens face, regardless of their upbringing.
Seeing backyard hens frolicking in the grass looks wonderful on the surface. Yet, beyond the surface lies the source of virtually all commercially raised chickens today: the industrial scale hatcheries that breed billions of birds every year in absolutely appalling conditions and that use cruel practices such as beak amputation, killing of millions of male chicks, and genetic manipulation to optimize egg production which dooms hens to cancer, heart failure, and other serious adverse health effects early in their lives. In short, hatcheries profit on the suffering of some 280 million birds each year in the US and our demand keeps them profitable.
Lovely and elegant Doris pictured here is one of four adopted hens. She had major surgery over a year ago to save her life. The surgery consisted of removing her oviduct and a mass of infected egg material that was blocked in her abdomen. One third of her body weight was removed during the surgery. It was successful. However, she never lost her desire to be a mother.
Many of the worst cruelties inflicted on animals in factory farms are also routine practices on small, free-range farms. Here are four of them: 1. Sexual violation and exploitation of reproductive systems; 2. The systematic sabotage of motherhood; 3. Routine mutilations without anesthetic; 4. Denial of instincts and preferences. If these were the circumstances of your brief and unfree life, at the end of which you would be forcefully restrained, attacked and slaughtered against your will, at a fraction of your natural lifespan, all for completely unnecessary reasons — would you maintain that you had been humanely treated?
Many people ask me why I don’t eat my own hens’ eggs. They’re going to lay them anyway, they say. What’s wrong with eating them? For me there are many good reasons not to eat any eggs, regardless of whether they come from a factory farm or your backyard, but I will focus on just one of them here. I took this photo of my hen Sweet Pea to show a common health condition that arises from intensive, daily egg production after only a short period of laying. Such egg laying is a function of how they are bred, not how they are raised.
Gregory describes a long history of failed negotiations with HSUS which he describes as a vegan organization intent on putting the egg industry out of business. Gregory sells the idea of the new legislation that would phase out battery cages over nearly two decades time and replace them with negligibly larger “enriched colony cages” as a way to finally take control of the debate over eggs and animal welfare and once and for all put an end to their biggest threat: the animal advocacy movement.
If you want to help hens, don’t purchase eggs and don’t support campaigns like the proposed battery cage ban (H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012), that will doom birds to cages for decades to come with no opportunities to change the laws. Birds do not belong in cages… period.
This is a photo of the kind of egg you don’t see at the supermarket or even hear about. Why? You’re not supposed to know about them. If you did, the industry knows how turned off you might become. Eggs like this are truly a “freak of nature,” that is, a product of man’s manipulation of nature. A far cry from the images and language of egg marketing huh? Farm fresh, pasture raised, cage free, free range, organic.
This morning I woke up at 4 am and had a startling observation about chickens. I think I realized that over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to understand what their true intentions are. To learn this, we must first shed our human bias that prevents us from really understanding their true nature. That means for a moment not seeing them as a source of eggs or meat or anything but an animal worthy of observing. Provide them with a safe and caring environment that is free from expectations of producing something for us and show a bit of interest in them and what begins to happen? They begin to seek our companionship.
Can we honestly say that eggs are “humane” simply by evaluating the conditions under which the hens are raised? I don’t care whether they are labeled “pasture raised,” “organic,” or “free range.” The way the hens were raised is only part of the reality that we have been exposed to as consumers. The more hidden reality is of course the breeding technologies that have doomed hens to a drastically short life of intensive egg production and in this short life, a high likelihood of suffering due to diseases brought on by such breeding.
Many “organic” operators provide only tiny enclosed porches, with roofs and concrete or wood flooring, yet call these structures “the outdoors,” says Cornucopia. “Many of the porches represent just 3 to 5 percent of the square footage of the main building housing the birds. That means 95 percent or more of the birds have absolutely no access whatsoever.”