Humane treatment of egg-laying chickens

<p>S2 has become a "pescatarian" - he will eat fish but no meat or poultry. This has made life difficult, since he is 11 and growing quickly, and I've had to find new ways to ensure that he gets enough protein. He is now refusing to eat eggs, because he has learned that even companies who treat their chickens well during their egg-laying period kill them when they no longer produce. I'd like to get him back eating eggs, because they are a good source of protein, and because they are ingredients in many foods that I want him to eat. Does anyone know of any companies that provide a cushy retirement for their chickens? I've called a couple of companies that advertise humane treatment, but so far no one has gotten back to me (which makes me suspect that the economics do not allow support of non-producing chickens).</p>

<p>If your DS feels sorry for the hens, he should really think about what happens to the male chickens when they are discovered to be males. :(</p>

<p>So, do you know what is than an old hen? </p>

<p>....</p>

<p>WFI</p>

<p>An old turkey. aka, husbands. :(</p>

<p>That is a tough spot. If S refuses on moral grounds, that meat is wrong. It certainly could make life difficult if S is inconsistent about the right and wrong of humans benefitting from animals. I am guessing he refuses to wear leather belts? Shoes with leather? Many products apply the same principles- coming from animals. Is he consistent in his beliefs?
What exactly does he think about fish? Does he think they are all suicides?</p>

<p>Well, you can drive up to Maine and I will sell you some eggs from my chickens. They live in a nice big house with a very large open air attached pen. (They were completely free range during the day until some foxes moved in behind us and ate three of them in two days.) THey live a life that is at least as pleasant as the hens after their escape to a desert isle in Chicken Run! :)</p>

<p>The seven of them probably lay a maximum of a dozen eggs per week at this point, since they are four or five years old. During the months with less light and when they are moulting, they lay even less. They are really pets, and only die of natural causes. As a bonus, the eggs are blue and green :)</p>

<p>Seriously, I don't know where you live, but you might be able to find people who have pet hens and will sell you some eggs. The problem is that as they age they gradually lay fewer eggs, which makes it hard to regularly supply anyone else. I used to have several customers who bought a dozen a week. Now, they just supply us. (Of course, I also had more chickens then, but half of them have passed on for one reason or another.)</p>

<p>I only buy organic eggs for my family. I buy from individuals. Not cheap, but even my cheapskate husband agrees that really do taste better. I have a 9 year old daughter and I worry about hormones, etc.</p>

<p>Anyway, Local Harvest is a good place to look for local sources.</p>

<p>Local</a> Harvest / Farmers Markets / Family Farms / CSA / Organic Food</p>

<p>Is it legal to have chickens where you live? Just a thought. Your son might enjoy collecting fresh eggs every morning and he'd know the birds were treated well. :) Also, you don't need to worry about a rooster crowing--hens will lay unfertilized eggs without a rooster.</p>

<p>And that is the extent of my chicken knowledge. ;)</p>

<p>I agree with the suggestion of having chickens or looking for a local farm around you. Some vegans will tell you that there are no humane eggs because even if you have your own chickens, they were probably sold to you by a farm that produces commercial eggs and meat, which, even as a vegan, I don't really agree with. What does he think of milk?</p>

<p>"Some vegans will tell you that there are no humane eggs because even if you have your own chickens, they were probably sold to you by a farm that produces commercial eggs and meat, which, even as a vegan, I don't really agree with."</p>

<p>Really? Some think that? I find that very different from my own experience. Did those vegans saying that to you actually ever raise backyard chickens? I did, for years, (waves at Consolation - I had Americanas and got those Easter eggs too! Also Barred Rocks and a Silkie!) and belonged to a very populous backyard chicken raising online community and all of us got our fertile eggs, chicks, or pullets from reputable hatcheries such as McMurray, or from other backyard chicken afficionados, or sometimes from small local farmers running a very different operation than a large commerical farm. I don't even know who you would talk to at a large corporately owned egg or meat production facility who would know how to sell you a couple of hens. They'd scratch their head and not have a clue who to talk to and I suspect trying to hunt someone down on the phone would yield almost comical results, but no laying pullets. You might luck into finding some easy going guy on duty who would good naturedly let you carry off a couple birds if you didn't tell anyone, but I can't see that the sales of a couple or half dozen animals to individuals would be anything but a nuisance to a corporate food production farm. I could be wrong, but it seems unlikely. I mean, they do sell off their animals eventually one way or another, but backyard chicken owners don't want those kinds of chickens anyway.</p>

<p>Commercial layers are almost always white Leghorns, (except for those laying the brown eggs they sell know and I'm not sure what breed they use, but Leghorns still comprise the vast majority of laying hens) and I don't know anyone who would be interested in having those because there are so many hundreds of other breeds that are far more interesting, and that's part of the fun of having chickens, the variations of the breeds. And nobody would buy a meat chicken for the purpose of laying eggs.</p>

<p>Of course it could be that my experience was not typical but I just have never talked to any other egg/pet chicken owner who got theirs from a big operation whose primary function was food production.</p>

<p>As my girls got older, after each yearly molt they laid fewer eggs: after about 3 or 4 years old you only get an occasional egg. As we had plenty of room we just let them scratch about in contented retirement; I got too busy getting my kids into COLLEGE! which is why I'm on CC instead of the chicken boards now, lol, to get another batch of girls and start again. But someday I'm going to have another little flock. A yard egg is like a homegrown tomato or fresh bread straight out of the oven. You just can't compare them to anything from the grocery store.</p>

<p>But part of my dilemna with getting more chickens was what to do if I ended up with roosters. (don't want roosters - can't have crowing - and they can be mean) Some people might keep one or maybe two so they can get fertile eggs, but extra roosters are generally butchered - and if you don't want to do it, and you sell them, then the person buying the rooster is almost certainly going to do that anyway. Or maybe fight it which is horrible. So it is a bit of a problem if you are totally against ever killing an animal for any reason, as it's almost impossible to raise them at any level without occasionally having to do that for one reason or another.</p>

<p>Oh, I've raised chickens too, which is why I disagree. And no, I don't think those people have. Although I don't eat them, I think humanely raised eggs are one of the most morally justifiable animal products because there is nothing else that a chicken will do with that egg, and she's going to lay it no matter what you do. Our chickens were really happy, though, and I think if you can find any kind of local farm (maybe you can even visit, which your son might like), that would be great. That's interesting about the eggs decreasing. We did not experience that, but we lost our chickens all to unfortunate accidents before they were five.</p>

<p>My D developed humanitarian food choices at that age, and in addition to cost, hassle, and weight gain (I believe from too much carbs and not enough protein), I find her inconstancy irritating. She's 20 now. I think its important to help kids making these choices responsible at least in part, for the extra burden this adds to good nutrition.</p>

<p>BTW, we can get humanely raised chickens and
"easter" eggs less than a mile away. Same place as Chez Panise. Not sure about the chickens but I really like the idea and the eggs are feasible and worth it.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.soulfoodfarm.com/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.soulfoodfarm.com/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Their CSA</p>

<p><a href="http://www.soulfoodfarm.com/csa_faq.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.soulfoodfarm.com/csa_faq.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Thank you for all the great information! I'm intrigued by the idea of raising chickens, but I am sure that it is not allowed here, in our fairly densely populated town. The best idea for us is probably looking for local sources. I'd love to have super-fresh eggs.</p>

<p>Roosters! The horror! </p>

<p>I had an accidental rooster--he was supposed to be a pullet, but the chick sexer made a mistake--and eventually I got someone who owned an Asian restaurant to come and take him away for eating. I hated that bird. He attacked me one too many times, and actually drew blood. And roosters crow ALL DAY, not just in the morning!</p>

<p>The girls are great fun, though. :) There used to be a great site called backyardchickens.com that moved and I lost track of it. Lots of backyard chicken afficionados around here.</p>

<p>Check out backyardchickens.com for info on having your own chickens, there is also info on zoning laws and how you can change them. People have chickens in the middle of NYC, Philadelphia and other large cities, so even dense population areas are popular. I have chickens too, really easy to take care of once they are past the baby chick stage when they need extra attention.</p>

<p>If you want to meet your chickens, I'm pretty sure there's someone who keeps chickens in their backyard near you. You just don't know it. Put up a sign or two around town.</p>

<p>NYMomof2: chickens may not be allowed... but I'd bet you be surprised. Here in Portland, I know two people who keep chickens--and that's without even asking around.</p>

<p>I grew up in Queens, NY and had a neighbor with a rooster.I don't know what else he had, but I know he had a rooster.</p>

<p>My big fear is predators. Coyotes and hawks seem to carry them off fairly regularly, and sometimes if gets ugly.</p>

<p>Oh what tangled webs such restrictive theories result in. My approach would be this is what we eat in this house. If you have a problem with that eat elsewhere. But that's just me.</p>

<p>No, barrons, it's me too. My theory, esp. with an 11 year old, is someone worked hard to pay for this food and cook it (and then clean it up), you eat it.</p>

<p>Having said that, I too think OP may be surprised whether or not raising chickens is allowed. We raise our own chickens, turkeys, hogs and steer. I stopped with the chickens because I don't use that many eggs, and the amount of meat wasn't worth it to me for the pain of butchering, esp. compared with how cheaply I can buy chicken on sale. We still raise the rest, along with show goats. I think raising livestock is a good thing and can be especially valuable in teaching kids many responsible lessons.</p>

<p>Another vote for finding a local farm. The eggs really DO taste better...worth any extra cost.</p>

<p>Restricting food choices based on ethical reasons....it's a slippery slope IMO. I have a friend...an acquaintance really..who tells me how much fish hurt when they're killed (I love fish). And after doing some reading, turns out that it's REALLY hard to avoid harming animals. Is bread OK? Well, lots of cute little bunnies, chipmunks, and mice are killed when they harvest the fields. Am I supposed to grow my own wheat too? </p>

<p>Good luck to the OP. Maybe your son will change his mind after a while. In the meantime, local farm eggs taste GREAT!!</p>

<p>toneranger--agree with the slippery slope.</p>

<p>A friend's D is vegan and it's a lot of trouble and argueably silly. My belief is that eggs & milk are the perfect foods, if you are a "vegetarian" and the animals are treated humanely. Who would bother to keep foxes out of a henhouse if it weren't for the eggs? Win-win all around. :)</p>

<p>I went through a vegetarian stage at around age 16 and am still grateful that my usually controlling mom who put dinner on the table every night and we ate what was served allowed me the freedom to sit alone and consume my cottage cheese and peaches for supper instead. And I gained around 10 lbs, too, and learned some things about how my body responds to food. It was important life information.</p>

<p>My older son went through a vegetarian stage at around 12 and I cooked lots of veggies and beans and rice for him with a side of meat for everyone else. He is grown now and still eats more vegetables and a generally more healthy diet than his meat eating brother and father. He is also more of a foodie and cooks nicely. He learned some things by paying attention to his diet and meal prep. </p>

<p>Many many of the young people I know are vegan or vegetarians of some kind. They are trying to eat local and are very aware and concerned about social matters. It is part of the zeitgeist of their generation. </p>

<p>I think if you find your local farmer's market and take him there to explore and help choose foods and if you involve him in the meal planning process you will be giving him a life lesson and a gift.</p>