For flock's sake: what makes an ethical egg

What do you picture when you hear the words ‘free range’? Bright, spacious hen houses? Small flocks roaming on green pastures? The reality is very different.

Egg infographic


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    1. Hi rixpyke, Organic flocks are not routinely given antibiotics or vaccinated . Instead, smaller flocks mean that the health of the hens can be monitored very carefully. Cleanliness is very important and organic hens are required to have far lower stocking rates, much more outdoor space, and clean outdoor grazing which helps keep them healthy.

  1. How many eggs do the organic chickens lay? Is it 12-15 a year as it would be in nature? I doubt a business could be run that way. Although they may be kept in a more ethical way than any other form of commercial animal expliotation, are they not still bred to suffer, by producing more eggs than their bodies can support, and die years before their more natural relatives would expect? (often from egg peritonitis)? And where are the Roosters? Routinely separated from the hens and destroyed at just hours old to allow this industry to continue, or does something different happen to organic rooster chicks?

    1. Hi Wenna woman, thanks for your comments and questions. If people do choose to eat eggs, then the Soil association standards are the highest of any of the licencing bodies in the UK so people can make an informed choice.

      Eggs produced for mixed size boxes of organic eggs are from laying hens that are kept until they are much older than non organic flocks. Most large scale commercial producers are under the control of large pack houses and supermarkets who demand brown medium eggs laid by young hens (older hens lay bigger and more varied eggs).

      Organic flocks aren’t pushed to produce eggs intensively, instead the hens lay on to over 80 weeks and also regularly moult which means they rest for 6-8 weeks. They also live in small flocks (as they would naturally in the wild), have large amounts of outside space and large , open shelters. The hens are never “debeaked or treated with growth promoters or routine antibiotics,

      Unfortunately the reality of farming is that the male chicks are euthanized. However, there have been developments in Germany in determining the sex of fertilised eggs instead. Other ways forward are to breed high welfare birds that can be used both for meat and for eggs. Both are options that may provide solutions in future.

  2. thank you wennawoman, it is true, egg production is inherently cruel, no mention of the males in this leaflet and how they are killed. And no mention of the family separation, and its just not possible to breed a hen to increase her egg production by 2,000% from a wild bird and it not be damaging to her body


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