What Are Your Thoughts On The Matrix of Eggs?
I want to be clear, I am not particularly an animal lover in the way of going nuts over the cuteness of our furry friends. I never had walls of horse posters or am not really a softy for kittens. But I do have deep respect for all living beings and am often in awe of the abilities and perfect uniqueness these beings possess; of the amazing intricate details mother nature has equipped us all with.
This is why I include this first video of chicks hatching, with their mum, in a nest. I want us to be in touch with how mother nature intends it to be done, if we are not, we can miss the problems when we see how it is being done.
So, go on, watch this feel good clip first ...
This is how male and female chicks are born- via eggs. To have the eggs we need the mother hen and rooster to fertilise the eggs. The cycle of creating life.
My two main concerns with hatcheries are
HOW DO THEY KILL THE UNWANTED MALE CHICKS?
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS LIKE FOR THE HENS THAT LAY THE EGGS THAT ARE HATCHED AT THE HATCHERY?
The conditions to raise thousands of chicks per day are unfortunately not out on free-range farms. They are raised in big sheds, no fresh air, no room to move or nest; commercial style. Really as a compassionate consumer no one would want to support a hatchery, because of the cruelty indicated on the chicks, hens and roosters.
I have a list of dedicated organic or free-range egg farms that spend their time and hearts raising chickens ethically, feeding them real food and avoiding the bad stuff that makes us sick. However after talking to every one of them, they all get some or all of their chicks from commercial hatcheries.
I don't at all want to be down on them- they are doing hard work to raise food for us in the best way possible now.
Many of the farmers regret having to use hatcheries but not doing so restricts their ability to raise larger numbers of birds as hens only go broody at a certain time of year and not many hens decide they wish to brood. Even if it were viable to allow the roosters to roam free and live out their life in the paddock, it is illegal to sell fertile eggs for human consumption and so this idea is unworkable in practice as it would require infrastructure to separate roosters from laying hens.
To be raised as organic and for some free range farms, the chicks are shipped at 1 day old from the hatchery. They survive for 2-3 days with no water or food. They are then raised according to regulations on the farm, normally kept inside under a heat lamp or brooder for about 5 - 6 weeks. By this time they are just about fully feathered and between 17- 22 weeks, they will start laying.
I feed my children eggs. I do it for nutrition purposes. I know they can survive as vegans but only if they eat a varied diet including protein sources ... which to be frank, my son simply doesn't do.
So what to do!? Research is being undertaken through the Poultry CRC into the identification of male embryos so those eggs can be discarded before they hatch. This would avoid killing male chicks but would not alleviate the suffering inflicted on the hens laying the eggs at the hatcheries.
To get backyard hens?
This week I am visiting a smaller hatchery and will share what I find.
If you are interested here are resources of the hatcheries in Australia and ethical egg suppliers.
The handful of hatcheries that birth the chickens in Australia- for all egg layers, caged or organic, free-range or not:
Organic or True Free Range Egg Farms: