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    • CommentAuthorJanice Sansing
    • CommentTimeOct 17th, 2007 4:01am (Oct 17th 2007)
     
    I found a site on the web today about organic eggs and I received a rude awakening in that just because eggs are organic it does not mean that the hens are treated in a humane manner. Many are little more than batterie hens too.... they just do not eat foods treated with hormones or get vacinated for diseases like other chickens. To make matters worse.... because of the bird flu threat, the organic layers are completly shut off from the outside world. Here I was thinking that when I bought the organic eggs that I was getting eggs from a hen who was happily enjoying the outdoors and eating fresh untreated grasses . Think again !!!!! I am looking now for someone around here who is willing to sell me some eggs from their free range hens. My sister has 24 hens on her farm and sells the eggs to the public but she lives 200 miles from me. When I was small , we had about 50 hens on 5 acres and they were free to chase the two cows and entertain themselves as they pleased. It is hard for me to picture the conditions of the poor commercial hens , living sometimes in a space smaller than a piece of computer paper .
    •  
      CommentAuthorDianeonWhidbey
    • CommentTimeOct 17th, 2007 5:55am (Oct 17th 2007)
     
    I love what you wrote here Janice. By that I mean - that you are bringing attention to it. (And that your chickens were cow herders.)

    Here in western Washington, (USA), we don't have the bird flu prob - but it is true that even when a package is labeled "cage free" that doesn't necessarily mean that the chickens are getting to lead a happy life. Sigh.
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeOct 17th, 2007 7:28am (Oct 17th 2007) edited
     

    Keeper of the hens

    It's a sad fact that a lot of egg packaging is just meant to mislead us into a false sense of "doing the right thing", but you've done a fantastic service to hens everywhere, firstly by noticing it (and caring enough to want to do something about it), and secondly in drawing it to a wider audience.

    In the UK there are (I think - I'm not a big egg buyer! ;) ) three main classes of eggs:

    1) eggs from caged hens - they daredn't say "battery hens", but it's the same thing. Debeaked, cramped and desperate to follow their natural urges to dust bathe and lay eggs in a secluded nest in privacy, they deserve better and we should really be ashamed that we can treat other animals this way.

    2) "free range" barn eggs - eggs kept out of cages but never (or only rarely) let outside and live in a large covered barn in very large numbers. They live in simulated long-days to ensure maximum egg production.

    3) Organic free range - eggs from hens with access to the outside. I don't think there are rules governing if it's completely free access, or whether it's limited (I'm sure I've read about farms with many barns which let each barn's hens out in rotation, a short period at a time)

    I suppose it stands to reason that organic free range is the way to go - the eggs are going to be a lot nicer (yellower yolks, better taste), and the hens are able to scratch and dust bathe, but Janice is right, it's a sad fact of many modern farming practices that a commercial enterprise won't look anything like Janice's sisters' farm unfortunately.

    But at least there are some really nice people and organisations out there that are aimed at helping the plight of the humble chicken and improving their quality of life (and rehoming them when they are considered "spent") - United Poultry Concerns in the states and the Battery Hen Welfare Trust spring to mind.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeOct 17th, 2007 8:20am (Oct 17th 2007)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    It's just another way that the egg industry hides what they do.

    They call battery eggs things like "Farm Fresh" etc. so that people just assume they are free-range eggs.

    Even free-range eggs, the hens will not have been totally free-range but are usually let out onto a patch of land for a few hours a day. The rest of the time most free-range hens are kept in a large shed.
    •  
      CommentAuthorKateb
    • CommentTimeOct 17th, 2007 9:38pm (Oct 17th 2007)
     
    Its really hard to get hen-friendly eggs by the sound of it. I try to buy free-range as its marginally better than caged or barn, but obviously not ideal either. There's sometimes a farmer's market in Solihull (where I work) and next time they're there I'll ask about their eggs and maybe buy from them instead. Not much but a start.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDianeonWhidbey
    • CommentTimeOct 18th, 2007 12:07am (Oct 18th 2007)
     
    A great start!

    This has got me thinking about all the little farms around where I live. I could easily stop in and by right from the egg lady herself. Why has this never occurred to me until now?
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeOct 18th, 2007 11:19am (Oct 18th 2007)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    Sounds good to me - they'll be delicious too!