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Show ALL Forums  > Australia  > The chickens AND the eggs      Home login  
Joined: 1/6/2007
Msg: 1
The chickens AND the eggsPage 1 of 8    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
The issue of caged hen egg production is one that I feel very strongly about (so forgive me if I get on a soapbox a bit with this), and I wondered where others might fall on the scale of having strong opinions about this or never having thought about it.

Over the last 7 years I have taken in a number of ex-battery hens, two or three each year. When I go to these places and see rows upon rows of sheds that are so dusty you choke, filled with flies, boiling in the summer sun, crammed with rows and layer upon layer of cages above a shed floor piled high with chicken litter, with tens of thousands of sad looking hens jammed into them, and then I walk away with just feels so pitiful. Also in the cages are countless dead chooks who are not immediately removed (the live chooks will lay eggs on the dead chooks because it's the closest thing to nesting material they've ever had access to), and when the bodies are removed they're dumped for a time out behind the sheds. The birds they give me are featherless, bruised, sometimes wounded, their toenails are 3-4cm long, and they have mutilated beaks from the rough debeaking process they have endured (they either cut or burn the first centimetre or so of their beaks off, which, yes, does certainly contain nerve endings so yes it bloody hurts them, sometimes leaving the top and bottom parts of the beak askew as well as rendering them useless at picking up food like a chook should.) And the farm owners bring out the better of the birds I might add. They are too ashamed to bring out some of the others.

For the first 24 hours they are like statues, because they are so programmed to think they can't move about, and then they take their first tentative and painful steps. They can't pick grass or grain off the ground because of their mutilated beaks. The first nightfall confuses them because they have been kept in constant light and have lost the natural instinct to perch for bed, not that they have the strength to jump up on a perch or hang onto one anyway for about a month. They have muscle wastage and brittle bones. They all limp, some breathe like darth vader from lung damage, some have eye problems, and pretty much all have had reproductive problems from the ways their bodies have been manipulated to produce more-more-more eggs. The administering of hormones most know about, but they also do things like withhold food during the chickens natural moult (a time when they normally stop laying) in order to stave off the moult and therefore keep them laying longer. Many chickens die during this starvation process. Many of the ones I've had have had reproductive prolapse and/or cancer, which kills them. Some just die, others can be helped with veterinary surgical intervention.

But everytime I see it afresh I am stunned at how people, consumers, would willingly buy and eat an egg that came out of these mutilated, sick birds' bodies. The health of the chook has a huge impact on the eggs it lays. Feed them corn and the yolk goes really yellow, wheat and the yolk goes pale. So if they are sick, diseased and cancerous, how good is the egg? I mean even if a person feels no concern for the chooks, that's one thing, but wouldn't they be concerned about eating one of those eggs? It'd be the equivalent of seeing a fish washed up onto the beach and dying from some disease and deciding to eat it. It's unwell! It's not a good food option! Even if the caged eggs are cheaper, is price going to drive you to feed one of those things to your kids?

Eggs from a barn system are only marginally better (sad to say that last time I looked the RSPCA ones are only barn eggs) And those companies that put little smiley faces on eggs that came out of caged birds is a pretty pathetic attempt to mask the truth. The best eggs are those that clearly state on the box "no cages, no chemicals, no antibiotics, no hormones, no yolk colourant, no debeaking" eg. from Ovaston Organics. Or get a couple of chooks, feed them your scraps and eat their eggs. (Sorry, soapbox)

I guess what I'm curious about is how many people think about this stuff when they buy eggs? Do you give any thought to their origins? And do you think there should be more information on egg boxes? (Personally I'd like to see it compulsory to show a pic of what the chooks look like...not glamour publicity shots, but the real deal...and I encourage everyone to google some pics and info on caged hen egg production and see how much worse it is than just being an issue about confining them.)
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 2
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/23/2007 5:29:08 PM
No naamah I've never given this issue much thought.I see your point.It all about animal rights and living free as animals should.But then what about caged animals in zoos;their there for preservation and protection from poachers and hunters.
Joined: 5/10/2006
Msg: 3
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/23/2007 5:49:22 PM
Excellent post, one well worth soap boxing.

I became aware of these horrible practices 10-15 years ago, when it was a hot topic in the media for a few days. Judging from Naamah3's description, of the present situation, it seems to have become worse.

I haven't purchased eggs off the supermarket shelf for sometime & because I live rural Australia I can easily buy free range eggs. The look & taste between battery & free range eggs says it all.

Admittedly, I haven't given "the plight of the hen" much thought lately, so I appreciate the reminder.

Paying 5 or 6 dollars a dozen for eggs, would be a small sacrifice to make, if it sent these battery farmers out of business.
Joined: 1/6/2007
Msg: 4
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/23/2007 6:43:37 PM
Yeah Howard, media interest for a few days is right on the money. We have a short attention span when it comes to stuff like this that is a bit unpleasant to think about. The RSPCA ran an anti-battery-hen-eggs advertising campaign recently. I saw one ad.

I think it was about a decade ago that an animal welfare group successfully prosecuted a battery egg place for cruelty. Thereafter they changed the rules, not the rules about how the chooks were to be looked after, but the rules about not being able to prosecute battery egg farmers. sigh.

Oh and a few years back they put the practices under review. End result? Doubled the cage size. Sounds good until you realise it meant that instead of 2 chooks per one A4 piece of paper sized cage, they made it 1 chook per A4 piece of paper sized cage. So generous it makes you weep. And yet some European countries have/are phasing the practice out completely. Not sure why we can't manage it if they can.

SilentRunning, I think projects that involve the capture and preservation of wild animals are an entirely separate issue. Most involve an intention to release, veterinary care is provided, and the conditions are moreso centred around the animal's welfare rather than how much product humanity can suck out of them. Zoos, I'm against zoos, where the primary purpose is for us to gawk at the poor prisoners who have a life sentence and the accommodations are less than ideal. And hell, we could get into what they do to the moon bears in asia, the japanese hunting whales for research purposes, wiping out a colony of platypus to extend a sunshine coast shopping centre and abandoned dogs at Christmas...all of which concern me and cause me to react, however I am concerned that going off on these tangents with animal welfare generally at this early stage of this thread will only distract from the issue I have raised which is purely about caged hens and how conscious people are about this issue, and whether it effects their egg-buying decisions in the supermarket.

Joined: 1/2/2006
Msg: 5
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/23/2007 8:28:41 PM
Its a revolting practise with its only justification of cruelty being economic advantage. Its strange that a community who knows that cruelty to animals is a precursor to community violence and aggression.
 1-800 you wish
Joined: 11/7/2006
Msg: 6
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/23/2007 10:25:28 PM
I personally am happy to pay a few extra dollars to buy free range eggs.But i guess there are families around who simply cannot afford to do it.
I believe if more people knew how easy keeping a couple of chooks in the backyard is (even in suburbia)many people would choose to do it.
No shop egg can compete with one fresh from your own chook,your household ends up with so much less rubbish cos the chooks eat everything,fleas and ticks in your yard are reduced cos the girls are on patrol(mice too these ladies are remarkably good hunters!)To top it all off if treated well they are remarkably affectionate and really amusing animals!!All this plus a fresh egg religiously almost every morning.........what a bargain for $15-20 dollars!!!
Now i just need to teach them to stay out of my house
A very worthwhile soapbox i feel
 ‡ Åߥ§§ ‡
Joined: 2/23/2006
Msg: 7
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 2:03:53 AM
It is not only chickens that suffer a life in a cage.There was a programe i watched awhile back about caged & crated pigs and how they had suffered in close confinement ,mainly breeding sows ,the sows were unable to excercise or had enough space to even turn around throughout their pregnancy . When it was time for the sow to give birth , the sow was moved to an equally restricting farrow crate ,thankfully this practice of tethering is now banned is NSW .
Joined: 2/9/2007
Msg: 8
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 2:19:10 AM
This is something that I feel very strongly about and have done since my teens. I have attended a few marches and protests in relation to this and it saddens me to say the least. These poor chickens endure so much and most of the time, the diseased, dead hens are ground up and fed back to the others.
Now, my friends think I am a bit full-on with my animal causes but as they can't speak or defend themselves I think we all have a duty to protect them. Not only that, people don't realize that cage eggs are actully quite bad for you due to the antibiotics, penicillin and steroids that are injected into the hens and the diseases that riddle them.
I pay $6 a dozen for my eggs in the supermarket when I cannot get them from a farm and as mentioned before you must be very picky as some are only 'barn laid' and not 'free range' at all. Manning Valley are good as their chickens are free to graze in green paddocks all day.
Please, everyone take notice and help stop these heinous pratices.
Joined: 11/16/2005
Msg: 9
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 2:39:15 AM
Thank you for bringing this to my attention...sadly I never thought much about it. I will from now on though.
 1-800 you wish
Joined: 11/7/2006
Msg: 10
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 2:49:23 AM
This is an issue we should all be concerned about.
Animal cruelty on the whole is something that makes my blood boil,we use these animals,the least we can do is ensure they have a comfortable life and a humane death.There simply is no excuse for it(stepping off my high horse now!! )
Joined: 1/28/2007
Msg: 11
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 4:59:53 AM
Devil advocate here. What would you call humans standing in the production line in one place day after day after day. Or chained to a computer and desk day after day after day.

Productivity. Profits. A most unnatural and unhealthy mode of living.

I am not denying the cruelty to the chooks, and beak removal sucks, but my god have you ever lived in corporate shoes for 6 years?

Just a few thoughts on the big picture of the life we created and how we live life in general. There are very few WILD AND FREE animals left. Not even us maybe.
Joined: 9/23/2006
Msg: 12
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:04:02 AM
Interesting point Salty... it's not only the chooks that are caged, we as people are confined and restricted and it's not until we are out of that paradigm that we even know how confined and restricted by society we really have been.
Joined: 1/6/2007
Msg: 13
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 6:23:12 AM
I hear you. Life can be hard when we feel confined and trapped by our own existence. But we gain from that to some degree, whereas the chooks gain absolutely nothing. We hope our years of work give us a nice life, nice things, or maybe just retirement to look forward to at worst. Hens don't even get that. They are born in a hatchery and therefore deprived of the love that I've watched hens lavish on their children. They are sexed at day old, the boys are thrown into a shredder (alive) and the girls are debeaked with hot wire or a metal hotplate thingie for the first time (welcome to the world, little newborn chick). They are fed steroids and hormones to make them grow faster, debeaked again, caged for 2 years with no dirt to bathe in, no greens to eat, no fresh air or exercise (can't even flap their wings to stretch). We get to go home at 5 o'clock, they don't. Then after 2 years they are unceremoniously hauled out by their legs (which break easily), thrown on a truck (protruding legs and wings hacked off with a knife for transport compliance) and driven to be slaughtered. Some of the bigger producers won't even sell me their "used" hens to give a few girls a chance at a happy life and the explanation they give me is that "they go on for further production" and are not sold live to the public.

The last time I was in getting some ex-battery hens, a female staff member at this place I was going to said "You must have never had anything serious happen to you in your life that you worry about bloody chooks so much". For those who have read some of my other posts you'll already know that I lost my Mum and one brother in a car accident when I was 16, and I watched my husband die when he was 31 and I was 35, was with him every step of the way, nursed him at home in the final stages, and I would say that I've seen some serious stuff up close and felt some of life's harshest blows. And yet, yes, this still matters. In fact it matters more because in the end all that matters is how we were as people, not as workers, or money-makers,or achievers, but as people. My husband 'got' that more than he ever had when he was dying. He said to me oneday, with his own mortality dangling above his head, that he finally understood the animal issue I'd been banging on about all the years he'd known me, that we just use and abuse in a way we have absolutely no right to do. He'd always empathised with their plight, donated to animal welfare organisations, etc, but there was this moment where he FELT and KNEW what we do to animals and the scale we do it on in a way he'd barely considered before. His moment of clarity was inspired by something we learned about captive dolphins, but that's a whole other subject, but the whole thing about animals suddenly clicked into place for him, about all of it. And he cried at the feeling of it. If a man dying at 31 can look past his troubles and still see that it just ain't right, surely those of us with jobs we don't like and a few everyday problems to deal with, can still see past ourselves enough to not let us be distracted from this cruelty issue by our own troubles?

In all honesty, I think that getting distracted with "oh there's so much other misery in the world" and "what about this issue, and that issue" are what actually deflect us from doing anything about the stuff we can have an impact on. Caring about one issue does not mean you don't care about other issues. Wanting battery hens banned doesn't mean you can't also care about starving people, social injustice, war, global warming, and so on...but there is no crime in putting (and keeping) our focus on the fact that right under our noses thousands of thousands of chickens are being systematically tortured and we are eating their eggs. We can fix this one so easily. We don't have to storm the battery farms, wave placards or tie ourselves to trees...not that I am against that, and I have been an active participant in animal lib in the past...but for those who don't want that kind of friction in their life, it's not a problem because you can still do free range eggs at the supermarket...or get chooks. (including an ex-battery hen for rehabilitation perhaps, it's so worth it.) Without consumer demand, they'll stop the supply. Supply and demand drive it all.

I'm so glad others care so deeply about this, and that it's made a few think about it a little differently. Every consumer dollar spent saying we want free range, helps.

PS Many cafes now serve free range eggs -and free range bacon too Abyss (I saw that terrible film on how they treat pigs years ago when animal lib were distributing it, it's disgusting.) - so ask for free range at places you go and that also helps create a recognised demand.
Joined: 9/23/2006
Msg: 14
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 3:52:51 PM
I have been aware of chickens and the hormone content of the chickens sold to make sure they are plump when sold, I hadn't realised the eggs being laid where going through the same process, it's logical really.

I will not purchase chickens filled with hormones as I don't think that in the long term they are beneficial to our own health, let alone what the chicken themselves go through.

Namaah you have convinced me, with my purchase of eggs that are free range in the future.
Joined: 1/6/2007
Msg: 15
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 3:57:41 PM
Yay!!! GG you have just made my day. (I'm a simple lass, that's all it takes)
Joined: 12/27/2006
Msg: 16
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 4:50:06 PM
fck the whales, lets save the chickens!
Joined: 9/23/2006
Msg: 17
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 4:52:02 PM
No.... we want our whales too...

Joined: 12/27/2006
Msg: 18
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 4:59:42 PM
only coz you know whales, with genetical engineering, might lay huge eggs oneday

we know what you're up to GG,,,,,,,,
Joined: 1/6/2007
Msg: 19
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:04:11 PM
Oh god, battery whales, don't give them ideas....anytime money gets in the way of ethics, that's when things turn away from how things are meant to be.

We do want our whales too!

(I reiterate, message 13, paragraph 3, second sentence.)
Joined: 12/27/2006
Msg: 20
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:08:54 PM
battery hens, battery whales, what'll they think of next?
Battery Operated Boyfriends?
Joined: 9/23/2006
Msg: 21
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:12:22 PM
^^^ sounds good to me.. although they may be only useful for a short time. As consistent with this thread, the real thing for me.
Joined: 12/27/2006
Msg: 22
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:13:43 PM
Seriously, it's a valid issue in both respects ,as to our health and cruelty to chooks. Chooks do have a lot of charactor as anyone who has ever kept them knows.
Mental images of animals suffering everytime I see the standard supermarket eggs will make it extremely difficult to purchase them in future,
Joined: 1/26/2007
Msg: 23
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:48:53 PM
Everyday, I think about that stuff. Animal are more than bones and organs.

Sorry Naamah3. Thankyou and I will try and do better to improve myself
Joined: 2/9/2007
Msg: 24
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/24/2007 5:50:03 PM
The difference is, saltytowers, people have CHOICES and the right/freedom to make those choices.....those poor chickens do not have the same rights....
 Faux Pa
Joined: 8/25/2006
Msg: 25
The chickens AND the eggs
Posted: 2/25/2007 11:10:35 PM
Excellent post Naamah.
I should confess (where the hell did that thread go, anyway) that I'm not a very good chicken rights sort of person, even though I've seen a couple of those battery farm doco's on the telly.
But when someone goes to the trouble of of beating a keyboard into submission to tell the same story . . well, it has more impact, somehow.

So, to cut a long story short, as the designated chook fruit purchasing officer around here, I declare that I'll only buy proper googies from happy chooks from now on, OK.

Now, given that your arguments is a good, and that I'm not the aforementioned card carrying chook hugger, I'll need to help myself justify the whole deal.
You might need to correct me on the math, but I figure the average chook lays about one egg per day and given that this household goes through roughly one dozen per week, that should put roughly two battery chooks out of work . . or save their lives, depending on how you look at it.
But in order to fill my requirements, egg wise, the free range farmers will need to employ another two chooks . . I like to think of it as the same chooks with a better life style, OK.
My whole "empower the chooks" campaign is only really going to cost me about three dollars a week more. I nearly can see smiles on their beaks already.
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