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Missing Chickens & Egg Farming Expose

We’ve been without poultry for a couple of months now due to Mr Fox then moving house and I really am missing them! Hopefully come Spring we will be set up again, but with no fresh eggs in the morning and no cheeky knocks on the window I’m hoping we get them again sooner rather than later.

Gabe is also missing his “bwkarks” and is looking forward to hatching our own as well as getting a few point of lay so we have fresh eggs again sooner. I think hatching is a great for children, as long as planning for males has been done ahead. We’ll be using utility breeds for hatching so that any males can go in the pot.

We are lucky living in a rural area that a lot of people keep poultry in their gardens. It means in the Spring, Summer and early Autumn months that we can easily buy surplus direct from keepers if we have none of our own; and we know the chickens were raised with love and truly free range. As the darker nights close in there are less eggs being laid, and we are likely needing to buy from the farm shop or supermarket again.

Debeaked Chicken - Egg Farming

Debeaked Chicken – Image supplied by PETA

Free Range Hen Egg Farming – Recent Expose

I’m sure many of you have seen the recent expose on some of the larger free range egg farming enterprises. With birds barely able to leave the houses, beaks clipped, and cramped conditions – many have wondered whether buying free range is actually any better than buying eggs from caged hens.

Although some of the commercial enterprises meet just the bare minimum for “free range” accreditation I would still say that if buying eggs to buy free range if you can. A lot of the commercial farmers have far higher standards than those contained within the Viva!, PETA, and similar exposes, and even if only the bare minimum requirements are met they are kept far better than those in cages.

Organic conditions are far better, with more space per bird and more area to range. Budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl now stock an organic egg range, so if your budget can stretch buy these. If buying from a farm shop ask them how the hens are kept. Our local farm shop will let you see their flock, others will just answer your questions – it is always worth asking though. You can also find out a lot of information online about supermarket suppliers for each egg brand and supermarket own brands.

Ultimately if you eat eggs and choose to buy from a shop there is always some risk as to the conditions the hens were living in (the same meat and dairy), so the only way to truly know what we are eating and how it is kept is to grow your own, raise your own, or get to know your local farmer.

Seasonality of Food

Perhaps it is also a good return to seasonality for us. I still have some eggs stored in the freezer, and a few months without is not really a hardship. That way we will ride out the few months the local keepers are without, and hopefully come Spring either have our own flock again or be able to buy directly and locally so I am happy with how the hens are kept.

It is something to keep in mind with all food produce. We grow our own veg or buy a veg box from a local CSA, milk we buy raw direct from the farmer, and everything else I try to think about food miles and seasonality for. Supporting local is important, but even just making the choice to buy British raised meat instead of imported in the supermarket can make a difference – supply and demand matters. It supports British farming, and with BREXIT looming I really think we should use it as an opportunity to support home grown produce at the very least.

Do we really need to be buying tasteless tomatoes, peppers, or other out of season foods shipped half way around the world in December? Or should we be buying British lamb instead of New Zealand lamb so we give the supermarkets the message we would rather home grown both for economic prosperity and environmental conscience? A move to seasonal and local would benefit many and it is something we are working towards here as much as is reasonable possible.

Food for thought.

Posted in My Chicken Diary

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