We all know that vegans are against killing animals, but if chickens don’t need to be killed in the egg industry what’s the problem with eating eggs?
If the above question has ever crossed your mind, let me start by saying that the only reason you are probably still eating eggs is because the egg industry has done such a good job of keeping you in the dark about how it really operates.
Put simply: when we buy eggs, we are paying someone to kill newborn chicks.
What is the connection there? It’s very simple. In order to produce eggs for people to buy, the egg industry needs female chickens that lay eggs. Male chicks do not lay eggs, meaning they are absolutely useless to the egg industry. And if you have no role in this industry then you are destined to a horrifying death.
The price of an egg: The systematic killing of baby male chicks in the egg industry
Here are a few facts you probably did not know about the egg industry that might make you rethink whether you want to support it:
Unlike in nature, where chickens only lay eggs until they reach a cluster, sit on their eggs until their chicks hatch, and then slowly introduce their chicks to the world, in the egg industry, baby chicks hatch in an industrial hatchery together with countless other chicks under an industrial heating light intended to speed up the hatching process.
Scared, terrified and without their mothers anywhere in sight, the baby chicks are moved to the selection process within a few moments to three days from hatching. They are checked for their gender: the female chicks are placed in the pile of “life”; the male chicks are left in the pile of death.
For the male chicks: electrocution, shredding, and suffocation
1. Electrocution 2. Shredding in an industrial grinder 3. Cervical dislocation (breaking their necks) 4. Death by gas 5. Suffocation in bags (The newly born chicks are simply thrown into huge plastic bags one on top of the other. Those at the bottom are left to die of suffocation, while the top ones either die of hunger, disease or suffocation, depending which comes first.)
Is the killing of male chicks legal?
The three methods that the American Veterinary Association recommends for the killing of baby chicks are grinder shredding, death by gas, and cervical dislocation. Yes, most of these practices are perfectly legal in almost all countries around the world, and people just like you are actively sponsoring these practices when they buy eggs.
It is important to note that these practices are also common in the “free-range” and organic egg industries, as they too have no use for the male chicks.
Why are male chicks not sent over to the meat industry? The answer is economically motivated. Farmers now breed two types of chickens: “egg chickens”, which are genetically nurtured to produce as many eggs as possible, and “meat chickens”, which produce the largest amount of flesh per the farmers’ investment. The male chicks from the egg industry are not genetically nurtured for their meat and are therefore just not profitable enough.
So what about the female chicks?
If you thought that the female chicks were the lucky ones in this story, think again.
Upon their gender examination, female chicks are moved to start their lives of slavery alongside other female chicks in the egg industry.
Throughout their short lives as laying hens, the female chicks will be:
- Raised in battery cages, most of them smaller than the size of a sheet of A4, where the majority of them won’t be able to fully spread their wings even once in their entire lives.
- Their beaks will be cut off at the tip, because out of frustration they will try to peck each other or peck themselves. This could lead to injury or their death, and as a result bring about financial losses for the farmer.
- They will be forced to produce more eggs than their bodies are built for. Consider these figures: While wild chickens naturally lay about 12 eggs a year, these days, chickens in the egg industry are forced and genetically nurtured to lay about 300 to 370 eggs a year!
- Starved for regular periods of 7 to 14 days every time their egg production drops. As part of the forced molting technique, a common practice used in the egg industry to get chickens to lay more eggs, the chickens are kept in complete darkness and without food for 7 to 14 days at a time, until they start to fade and lose their feathers. While many unproductive chickens will die in this starvation process, the ones that survive this will produce more eggs once food and light are introduced again, all so the farmers will be able to sell more eggs.
- Premature death by electrocution, gas or foam. Laying hens only get to live for about two years. By this time, their bodies are completely exhausted from all the resources they have had to put into excessive egg laying. As a result, their productiveness drops, meaning they are no longer profitable and therefore of no use to the egg industry. At this point, they are either sent for slaughter to be used in animal feed or simply discarded by gas, foam, or electrocution.
But I only eat “free-range” or organic eggs
Please don’t fool yourself. Whether you buy regular eggs, organic eggs or “free-range” eggs, in all three cases you are supporting the majority of the practices mentioned above. Neither the organic, regular nor “free-range” industry has any use for the male chicks, and they are killed shortly after being born in all three industries. Also, the majority of the cruel practices and sad premature deaths mentioned above occur across the entire industry.
So next time you are thinking of buying eggs or ordering an omelet, consider the following question: If you saw a newborn male chick in a blender, would you press the start button to see him getting torn to death? If the answer is no then why are you paying someone else to do it for you?
Please stop supporting the cruel egg industry – no omelet is of the same worth as a life.
Cover image: Shutterstock.