Oct 18, 2007

Egg-eaters, beware

Ever stop and think where your eggs come from?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the University of Saskatchewan campus laying barn. I mentally prepared myself before I went because I had read about the plight of hens and the horrible conditions they suffer, but I wanted to see it firsthand. You cant believe everything that you read on the internet, right?

Unfortunately, I have to confirm that what you read on animal rights/animal welfare websites about the plight of laying hens is TRUE. We went through on a tour of the hatchery, the laying barn, and the broiler (meat chicken) barn. During the tour I asked a lot of questions regarding the welfare of the animals. For example they were telling us how they debeak the chicks and I asked how humane that process is. Don’t the birds have nerve endings in their beaks? The man showing us around told us that yes, it is a painful process for the birds, but it must be done to prevent the chickens from pecking each other to death, and cannibalism.

Once in the laying hen barn it was obvious to see why debeaking is done. The hens are in tiny cages, packed with up to 6 birds a cage. If I was that crowded, I’d want to peck the person beside me to death as well! As I was walking down the isles of chickens my disgust was growing. Rows upon rows, stacks upon stacks, of full grown chickens crammed into tiny metal cages so that they couldn’t even spread their wings. There were a few cages that had 2 or 4 birds, which wasn’t AS bad, but there was also a large amount of cages with as many as 6 birds. I don’t understand how any living creature should be forced to live like that. The hens are kept in these tight little metal cages for a full year, sometimes longer. It would be like the equivalent of stuffing 6 fat people in your bedroom closet for a year (and I’m not talking about a walk in closet either!). If you went to a pet store and saw 6 full grown dogs crammed in a cage so tight that they were standing shoulder to shoulder and couldn’t even move around, would you not be shocked and call the SPCA or your local animal protection officer? Yet these are the conditions that hens are forced to endure for their entire lives so that you and I can eat eggs.

I must also note that there was a couple of alternative cages they were “trying out”.. That were reasonably larger, cleaner, and the hens in those cages were significantly more calm that the ones in the battery cages. At least they ARE looking into alternatives. I don't understand though why every cage has not been replaced with the larger more humane, cleaner ones. The University is shelling out millions to make place riel into a frikkin shopping center but they can't shell out anything for a more humane laying-hen production?

My professor said that in the UK they have banned battery cages and their laying hens are now kept in a large barn setting where they are free to roam and walk around. Unfortunately, all Canadians seem to care about is that the price of their eggs stays low, and so they don’t care that these birds have shitty lives. (or else they don’t KNOW about it.. but now you DO know.. so if you go out and buy regular supermarket eggs, remember, you are supporting this type of cruelty that other countries have banned!) I can promise you I will never buy supermarket eggs again unless they are from free range hens.

I don’t like to eat eggs period because of the unnecessary slaughter that is associated with egg production. All of the male chicks that hatch in the egg industry are killed because, of course, male chicks don’t lay eggs. They are not kept for meat because there is barely any meat on them. Also after a year, the female hens are killed because their production declines to about 70%. In a natural setting, a hen can live 4-5 years.

So in conclusion, I’m not telling you all to NOT eat eggs. If you simply must eat eggs please remember: hens go through a lot of suffering in battery cages to produce low cost supermarket eggs. Choose to be a better person and shell out a bit extra from your wallet…choose to buy eggs that are from free range hens .. birds that are allowed to roam in the sunshine!

please note: the pictures in the above article were not taken at the U of S barns. I googled the images from random websites, but I chose the images which I felt best depicted what I saw in person.


Anonymous said...

do what I did, start a petition, get people to sign, then you have power, If you get enough people,you can go to the paper and they will have to do an article on it. That is the way to go. Also you can call the SPCA and see what they have to say. Tell them the paper will be doing an article on this, That should get them moving. Great article, those poor chickens.Ilse.

newsong said...

I agree with anonymous - start I petition. I'd link it.

(Found you via SK Blogs, *wave*)

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