The problems faced by all egg-laying hens are not caused by their environment, but by the very bodies that have been created by humans. Their bodies are the result of years of selective breeding to maximise egg production for human interests. This selective breeding has escalated egg laying by each individual bird to 250 – 300+ a year from the original annual total of fewer than 25 by the wild relatives from whom she has been developed.
Hens, like all of the victims of our every non-vegan consumer choice, are sentient individuals, each one with her own mind and thoughts, her own individuality, her own unique personality and preferences. It is all too easy for us to fall for the advertising hype that obsesses about the environment in which she is used; all too easy for us to be lulled into thinking that if we change the environment, the problem has been solved. For a long time, I fell for that idea myself.
The prison than none can escape
Yet every single hen is locked within a prison.
That prison, that none can ever escape, is so much more insidious than the battery, the cage, the barn, the shed or the free-range, feel-good, family farm in which her use as an egg-layer takes place.
Every single hen remains locked within her individual prison, even in the ‘backyard’ setting; that ‘backyard’ so often extolled and promoted by those who continue to take the eggs from these gentle little birds; that fairy tale place that is mentioned in comments by those contradicting explanations of why eggs can never be ‘humane’ on every social media article I’ve ever read.
Her prison is completely inescapable, no matter how ‘loved’ she is, no matter how ‘free’ she is mistakenly thought to be, no matter how ‘wonderful’ the life that even her users would undoubtedly wish her to have.
For every single egg laying hen, her own body is her prison.
We hear from time to time that “happy hens lay eggs.” No, all hens lay eggs. They lay eggs in cages, they lay eggs in ammonia-filled sheds, they lay eggs on their very deathbeds, because they have been genetically programmed to do so.
And we humans are still working on breeding ever more efficient egg-laying machines.
Hens who lay earlier, with smaller bodies; Who require less food to pump out even bigger eggs. Hens who don’t take even a single break to renew their feathers (a natural and healthy process in birds–but one which requires the cessation of laying). We are still trying to squeeze every last penny we can out of their broken little bodies.
The heartbreak of sanctuary
There are vegans who rescue hens from use as egg-layers, who offer them sanctuary and a life free from harm, with the freedom and the companionship of their own kind so enjoyed by these sociable birds. Time and again, each rescuer faces the inevitable heartbreak of helplessly witnessing death part them from those whom they care for as the special and valued friends that they are.
Each rescuer faces a battle they know they’re unlikely to win. Despite feeding her eggs back to her to replace her body’s depleted nutrients and despite providing the best medical care that can be found, few if any rescued individuals will be unaffected by the consequences of our genetic meddling; few if any, will enjoy the health that should be their birthright. Most die young, their pitiful little bodies ravaged by disease and wracked with pain.
I have seen the light go out of too many eyes. Every one of them struggles to hold onto their precious only life, right until their last breath. A vegan world is only the starting point; our goal must be their freedom from us.
~ Sandra Higgins, Director, Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary and Go Vegan World
Not ours, not food
Every egg that is consumed by humans, regardless of where it was laid, perpetuates the use of eggs as an appropriate ‘food’ for humans. It is neither appropriate nor necessary.
Every egg we use, regardless of where the egg was laid, is predicated on a mistaken assumption that we have a right to take what is clearly not ours, no matter how we seek to justify and excuse that action.
Every egg we use is a statement that we consider it acceptable to use other sentient individuals as nothing more than a resource, and is a stamp of approval for others to do so.
Every egg we use, ensures that because eggs are viewed as an appropriate ‘food’ for our species, there will continue to be a demand for these defenceless little individuals to be born into the treacherous bodies that humans have created for them.
Human nature being what it is, it doesn’t matter how individuals seek to claim ‘exceptional circumstances‘ to cover their own personal exploitation, egg production will continue on the current commercial scale because this is most economically advantageous for a supply industry driven by consumer demand. That demand will continue until consumers, as individuals, take responsibility for their own actions and decide they no longer wish to participate in the unspeakable practice of egg use, with the unthinkable violence and atrocities that are an inherent part of the whole concept.
Will current breeds become extinct?
Often used as an attempt to justify the continuation of current use, will current breeds become extinct when egg use by our species stops and a vegan world dawns?
Do we truly need to ask whether these innocent victims, these man-made mutants who are powerless to escape the atrocity of their self-destructive bodies, should be allowed to die out?
But since the question is frequently asked, I’ll answer. Yes. I hope with all my heart that our victims will one day be allowed to become extinct. It’s the only way they can ever escape the agony of what we have done to them and for me the day cannot come quickly enough.
Links for further information: –
- Hens and puppy mills – an analogy
- Chickens and eggs – what about the males?
- A handy guide for vegan advocates discussing chickens and eggs
- 12 Egg Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
- Enriched Cages and Embodied Prisons, A Report on the EU Directive Banning Battery Cages for Egg Laying Hens
- ‘Persistent Ovulator’ More about why eggs can never be an ethical foodstuff for humans
- The domestic chicken: Causes and consequences of an egg a day
- About chickens – info from the Humane Society with over 120 quoted sources
- What’s Wrong with Backyard Eggs
- Go Vegan World – about eggs
- A Hen’s Relationship with her Eggs
- Backyard Chicken Farming Leads to Abandoned Hens
- Cage-Free? Not free enough
- Backyard chickens: Expanding our understanding of ‘harm’
- ‘How the chicken conquered the world’, or ‘Just how brutal and greedy can our species possibly get?’
- Current goal is 500 eggs per individual
- The hen as a model for (human) ovarian cancer
- Talking about eggs – There’s an Elephant in the Room, the full blog