How do you like your eggs? Scrambled, fried, over easy, poached or, French toast made with eggs?
Have you thought about how eggs are produced? This is not merely about the hens that lay the eggs but, how the hens are treated, housed and, what they are fed.
Years ago I never gave a second thought about how laying hens were housed and if the chickens were humanely treated. Then about ten years ago, my daughter told me to watch some You Tube videos about how chickens were treated and the process of commercial egg production .
To say that I was appalled does not adequately describe my emotions. I will not go into detail here but the hens are de-beaked and probably about 4-6 or maybe more( I’ve forgotten how many) are crammed into small cages and the eggs roll out into a tray. The hens are fed antibiotics to prevent disease and their life as a live bird is over in a year or so.
After watching one video, I’d had my fill of the inhumane treatment, the filthy conditions, the antibiotics, etc. A store bought
joke yolk was no laughing matter.
After that I found a local person about 15 miles from the city and I drove there every two weeks for eggs that definitely tasted better and looked much more appealing.
Folks that live in large cities and those with limited funds simply can not afford pasture raised eggs. I realize that. Other people don’t care how the eggs are produced and continue to buy white eggs with pale yellow yolks- eggs that are laid by hens that have been fed antibiotics and a diet that consists of only grain.
So to further educate or not I’m including some interesting
Commercial eggs are marketed in various ways. (1) Cage free hens are housed in about one square foot of indoor space and never leave the cage for fresh air or get to touch the ground. (2) Next there are free range hens that live in an average of two square feet of outdoor space. That pretty much adds up to wall-to- wall chickens. (3) The humanely treated hens get to move about outdoors when the weather is permissible, in 108 square feet per hen. These hens get to eat grass and peck in the soil which makes for healthy hens that lay eggs with deep yellow yolks. This means that about 4,000 hens are moving about on 10 acres. The hens are rotated to new ground on a regular basis.
An Austin, Texas company called Vital Farms began producing pasture raised eggs. They have contracted with many chicken farmers in the South and California so that currently, approximately 60 chicken farms produces 1.5 million eggs per week.
Certified organic eggs sell for about $9 per dozen while organic sell for around $5 per dozen. Whole Foods and a few other grocery stores sell Vital Farms eggs. I’ve bought the regular organic eggs at HEB but these are not always available so I buy the next best thing.
I mix one raw egg with the shell finally crushed into 6 cups of Purina One that I feed to my three oldest dogs. I cook apple peelings, diced celery and sweet potato or carrot and add that to the food also and so far my dogs past 10 years of age are looking pretty good. Of note, the egg shell is a natural source of glucosamine.
Now that eggs have been added to my list of allergies I no longer eat or cook with eggs. Never mind the fact that I love the taste of a fresh brown French poached egg. I hope someday that I’ll be able to eat an egg now and then. In the meantime I felt this would make an informative post and perhaps provide an egg for thought.
“BATTERY HEN” A POEM by PAM AYRES of Great Britain
Oh. I am a battery hen,
On me back there’s not a germ,
I never scratched a farmyard,
And I never pecked a worm,
I never had the sunshine,
To warm me feathers through,
Eggs I lay. Every day.
For the likes of you.
When you has them scrambled,
Piled up on your plate,
It’s me what you should thank for that,
I never lays them late,
I always lays them reg’lar,
I always lays them right,
I never lays them brown,
I always lays them white.
But it’s no life, for a battery hen,
In me box I’m sat,
A funnel stuck out from the side,
Me pellets comes down that,
I gets a squirt of water,
Every half a day,
Watchin’ with me beady eye,
Me eggs, roll away.
I lays them in a funnel,
So that I don’t kick ’em,
And let them go to waste,
They rolls off down the tubing,
And up the gangway quick,
Sometimes I gets to thinkin’
“That could have been a chick!”
I might have been a farmyard hen,
Scratchin’ in the sun,
There might have been a crowd of chicks,
After me to run,
There might have been a cockerel fine,
To pay us his respects,
Instead of sittin’ here,
Till someone comes and wrings our necks.
I see the Time and Motion clock,
Is sayin’ nearly noon,
I ‘spec me squirt of water,
Will come flyin’ at me soon,
And then me spray of pellets,
Will nearly break me leg,
And I’ll bite the wire nettin’
And lay one more bloody egg.
My inbox is horrifyingly large at the moment Yvonne but I found this post and a couple of others! We started eating only free range eggs a few years ago. They can be about twice as expensive here as caged eggs but in the grand scheme of things it’s not much and in any case, it’s heartbreaking seeing images of factory hens. We had hens on the farm when I was growing up and it was always fun going to out to collect the eggs.
Don’t feel horrified for missing this post since it has now been months that I have put off answering follower’s comments. I agree that free range is so much better all around and I’m glad to support the farmers who operate free range chicken egg farms. I too grew up a farm and it was my daily chore to gather the eggs. I loved getting the eggs from underneath the hens that were still cackling after laying their eggs. 🙂
A little hello from France Yvonne. I hope you soon will write a new post. I enjoyed reading the poem again. Yesterday my son took me to the farm having eggs of the day..
Hi Chantal. It’s so nice to get your greeting. I envy you being able to go out to a farm in the country to get those wonderful fresh eggs. It sounds like an enjoyable outing and something to look forward to. You will have to take some more photographs of the countryside on your way to get the eggs.
Local, free RANGE (no free run) for me $3/half doz.
Bumper sticker on my car reads: “Factory farming is hell for animals”.
Hello, Sybil and thanks for reading. You are quite fortunate that you can purchase free range eggs at $3/half dozen. That is cheaper than free range here I think. I don’t bake or eat eggs anymore but if I did I’d have to ante up the $8-$9 for a dozen of free range if I could not find some from a local farmer. I just can not being myself to patronize folks who do not produce free range eggs. It turns my stomach.
PS: I like your bumper sticker very much. 🙂
We started buying free range years ago. And then organic free range. In Spain we had our own happy chickens. Still got the cockerel. Handsome boy. They have a nice shed and some outside space.
I was delighted when the EU announced phasing out of battery cages. Turns out they have just substituted them for different cages. I avoid eggs apart from my chickens.
Ms. Gib, you are so fortunate to have your own chickens, that’s the best way if possible. I’m glad you still have the rooster. If only all governments would ban battery cages and enact laws so that eggs are produced under humane conditions. But, I just don’t see that happening unless people demand pasture raised eggs.
Thank you so much for the visit and comment. ~yvonne
That’s a wonderful topic Yvonne., I like to eat my egg over easy with a spoon and a little bread but for sure I don’t buy egss in supermarkets. Hens have a terrible life and when the chicks are born they pull all the future male in plastic bags and kill them. It’s just horrible.
My son gets our eggs from a neighbour who have a land where hens can find what they need.
have a nice week
Hi Chatou. Thank you for commenting. Yes, the disposing of the male chicks is terribly inhumane and makes me ill. Surely there has to be a better way. That one thing alone should give folks a reason to purchase pasture raised eggs. You are very fortunate to have a neighbor with land where he can have chickens and have enough eggs to sell to a few customers. Those eggs taste so good from hens that can peck in the dirt and hunt for bugs.
Thanks for this great post. Chickens are the most tortured and abused animals on the planet and layers have it worst of all. Before they even make it to their miserable batter cage (where they will spend their entire life standing on a piece of wire mesh about the size of a standard piece of paper) they are hatched in giant incubators (from artificially inseminated eggs). Then the little male chicks are sorted out and tossed alive into giant meat grinders. Over 200 million chicks are slaughtered like this in the US every year.
Meanwhile we raise our hens naturally. They roam the farm foraging for a natural diet. We supplement their foraging with a GMO-free feed. They reward us with amazing eggs, with firm orange yolks and rich delicious taste. Anyone who eats a real farm-fresh egg will never want those pale runny factory eggs again. And of course anyone who cares about animal welfare should never eat them either.
Thanks for spreading this important message.
Thank you, Bill for your informational comment. I wanted to include how the chicks are destroyed but I decided not to go there and just stick with the egg factor. I somehow believe that those ground up remains just might be recycled into chicken feed and dog food but I hope that I’m wrong about that. Maybe all that becomes fertilizer addition. When I initially watched those videos on You Tube I had to stop watching because I felt physically ill and emotionally drained.
It’s good to know that you and your wife raise your own farm fresh eggs. They are so much healthier. As you have written, farm eggs are superior in taste and most likely nutrition as well.
Thanks for this! I usually try to buy eggs that are produced and sold in a good way, but am now going to re-double my efforts to remember this. Hope all is well with you as spring comes our way…
Thanks Kathy. I’m ok- not great but plodding along.
I have to admit that it’s not easy to find affordable eggs at the store and if you know anyone that has hens that would be ideal but that might also be improbable. Keeping chickens and getting them through the winter is, I think, very hard to do. But you never know. If there is a farmer’s market check that out and perhaps that might give you a source for eggs..
I hope you are having some nice weather by now. But, I read on the Internet that it was snowing in some areas of a few northern states. Old man winter just does not want to let up.
We have been getting lots of mositure and the past few days it’s been overcast the entire day and night with intermittent drizzle or rain.
Excellent post – I wish it could be read by thousands of people – tens of thousands – and a change occurred more quickly in the production of eggs. I do all I can to buy real free range eggs. Thanks for the tip about Vital Farms. I have a friend who raises her own hens, and the eggs are so different than those you buy at the store. So is the product of those eggs – whether scrambled or in a cake. Makes a huge difference, a happy hen. I hope humans grow to realize that we must treat all animals the way we wish to be treated too.
Thank you, Pam. It is my hope that change will occur but it will be a slow change. Most people simply do not care how or where the eggs are produced for market. And, of course if folks are barely eking by they don’t have the means to pay for expensive eggs. It’s great that you can get free range eggs at the store and of course it would be even better if you can buy from a local person. I looked at prices yesterday at my local HEB and the certified organic pasture raised eggs were $8.99 per dozen. I bought free range for my dogs at $5 per dozen.
T liked the photo and asked me to tap like. =) The contrast in yolk color – which speaks of the nutrient content – between different types of eggs is really something. This is a tangent but it’s a shame seeing organic celery so pale nowadays. Says a lot about the soil and (how much nutrients per bite we’re getting along w/) the shortcuts farmers might feel they must take. A wonderful, informative post, Yvonne.
Diana, T. is so cute and I had no idea that you show him my posts. I hope he likes what he reads. Thanks for liking the info and I hope it was beneficial or at least fodder for thought.
About that celery. I eat/cook a total of 3-4 large sticks every day. I love this vegetable. Of late the celery that I get from my local Texas chain grocery store, has been grown in Texas. I had no idea it would grow here so now that I am thinking 🙂 I need to Google to learn where in the world it’s grown in Texas.
I might add that the celery that I’ve been getting all these years is a nice dark green. It’s interesting to learn that “your” celery is pale and perhaps less appealing.
It’s not the appeal that concerns me as the telltale marker of low nutrient content. I was familiar with the ins and outs of nonorganic eggs. But it’s a good post, Yvonne. =)
Right you are, Diana. I should have clarified and written something such as low nutrient value and not un-appealing. There is no correlation between the two. You do keep me on my toes, young lady.
No, you weren’t wrong, Yvonne. The freshest, most nutrient-dense produce and foods do in fact look the best. =)
Okay. Thank you, Diana. When looking at fresh fruit and veggies I use the eye test. I suppose that’s a natural human reaction just as we are about most things in life. “Eye appeal” does sell most things. 🙂
I’m going to run the $9/dozen egg scenario by my wife and see what she says. I promise to record her reaction and post it to YouTube. Should be fun.
Mark, I’m sure you’d be recording your wife either fainting or falling to the floor in a “laughing fit.”
I did write that not everyone has access to and/or can afford to spend that kind of money for eggs. In large metropolitan areas most people do not have access to a farmer’s market or have the means to drive to the country looking for eggs. And most people do not give a wit about how or where the eggs are produced. It simply is not realistic.
I just happen to live in a town of about 120,000 and this area is surrounded by agriculture of some kind. Land with crops of hay, cotton, corn, oats, wheat and/or cattle are only 8-10- miles outside the city limits. Large and small horse farms also dot the countryside.
This small town also allows people to keep a few backyard chickens. I’m fortunate to live mid-way between Dallas and Austin which also has large farmer’s markets. I don’t know what pasture raised eggs cost there. I still drive to the country for eggs but I only use one per day for my dogs and pay $3 per dozen. If I can’t get to the country I buy eggs that cost $5 per dozen that are free range. I don’t eat eggs anymore.
Last of all, Thank you for commenting. I didn’t think you’d even consider responding to this post. 🙂
I am full of surprises. And some other stuff, too.
Yes sir, I bet you are full of lots of things other than surprises. Really Mark, I mean that you are a wealth of information. 🙂
This was a very informative post and I hope it informed folks about what’s going on in their eggs. If you’ve not seen the documentary ‘Food, Inc.’ You should. Very scary movie!
I buy my eggs from a farmer on my way to work for $5/dozen. They have all kinds of organic foods there. They just started selling milk and although I don’t drink it, I do love cheese and haven’t made it in a while.
I stumbled onto duck eggs a few years ago.. For baking, hands down a fluffier cake will be had with duck eggs. French Toast is heavenly. Dang. Now I’m hungry!
Hello Ilex and I’m glad to learn about the doc. Hopefully I can find it on CD? maybe and watch “Food, Inc.”
It’s good to know that you have a source for good eggs and $5 is probably about average when bought from a farmer’s market. And you are so fortunate to get those on your drive to work.
My mother used to cook with duck, guinea, goose and turkey eggs. All domestic foul lay wonderful eggs and as you have written cakes are great and will quack you up when made with duck eggs.
You quack me up! 🐣
Food, Inc has been out for a while. Local library should have it. Amazon and Netflix have it.
Thanks, Ilex for info re: Food, Inc. I’ll check it out one of these days.
Even for those of us who have heard some of these tales, they never can be repeated too many times. I’m lucky — I buy my eggs for $5 a dozen from organic farmers who come down from Mt. Alba to our farmers’ market. They’re pretty big-time: orchards, greenhouses, veggies and such. But their chickens are pasture raised, and rotated. They use them for pest control in some of the gardens, too — send them out to “hunt and peck.”
The eggs are delicious. They have several varieties of chickens, so you never know whether you’ll be getting blue, greenish or brown shells, but the eggs themselves are fabulous. I don’t eat many just as eggs, but every now and then I’ll scramble a couple, or make a nice egg salad. So good!
You know, Linda, it might be odd or maybe not but, I have some wonderful, like minded folks that follow my blog. Most people are like you, getting their eggs from a first hand supplier of pasture raised chickens or buying the “good eggs” at the grocery store. Your farmer’s market sounds wonderful. I just love the look of eggs- the blue, green and brown ones.
Gathering the eggs from the hen house was my regular chore and that was one farm chore that I really liked while growing up in the country. And that hunt and peck routine is one of the things that I still find so endearing about chickens.
I never knew turning the chickens was healthful. 🙂
And a good practice on the rotisserie, too!
We are fortunate that my mother-in-law (lives on the same property) has chickens and we are never lacking for eggs. FD sells the extras to a few co-workers for $3.00 a dozen. We allow the chickens to roam the pasture if we are outside working and have no predators (that we know of) on the place. Unfortunately, for several months we’ve had red foxes feeding young, so we have not let the chickens out in a long time. They have a large yard and an old barn for shelter. I hand pick weeds here much of the time and I haul wheelbarrow loads full of greens for the chickens to eat. Not much goes to waste here!
Lori aren’t you the lucky one to live next door to you MIL and get those great tasting and fresh as a daisy eggs? I can’t think of anything better. I remember giving our chickens weeds and grass clippings to our hens just as you do. Chickens love grass and scratching in the soil.
I think it’s a good thing to keep the chickens in a pen while the fox are around. But I hope the barn is fox proof for they sure will attempt and often succeed in gaining entry where there are chickens. We penned our hens inside their house at night but my dad had windows with heavy duty wire so that nothing could get in and the hens had ventilation.
Oh and FD is selling those eggs waaay too cheap. Pasture raised eggs are much more expensive than $3 per dozen. Those co-workers are getting a bargain.
Good post and thank you. Thankfully we have friends who have a farm with over 70 kinds of roaming chickens and we get our eggs fresh from them. They even have a chicken hospital on their property. The best of conditions for our bird friends.
Paulette you are indeed fortunate to get those farm raised eggs. I’m impressed with the chicken hospital plus you wrote there are 70 kinds of chickens. Do you mean 70 as in breeds or 70 chickens?
At any rate a special place to treat their chickens! I must say those people sound lovely and dedicated to treating their birds humanely.
A most eggs-cellent post, thank you Yvonne!
I miss not having my own hen’s eggs; they were so fresh and delicious and of course I knew that they had a happy life, scratching and roaming around the farm. The yolks were a fantastic colour too 🙂
I was quite ill a few weeks ago from eating eggs. A bad case of salmonella which I’m sure that I got from my home-made hollandaise sauce (that will learn me to be so fancy!) I only lightly cooked the eggs and within a couple of hours I knew that I’d picked up something horrible from them. I’m now very careful only to eat them well boiled or in baking.
I’ve watched some heartbreaking documentaries about chickens and egg-production and I agree 100% with what you say. Really interesting to hear that the shell provides a source of glucosamine, I’d no idea. Maybe I should start adding them to Mr C.Snout’s diet too.
Hi Lottie and gee I’m so sorry that you have been ill. I assumed that you were getting eggs from folks in the village but the eggs that made you ill must have been store bought. I hope that you can eventually find someone who has a backyard flock. Those eggs should be safe.
When I was growing up we always had chickens and none of us ever got sick. I think sometimes my dad added a raw egg to a milkshake. I knew nothing about salmonella back my youth.
I love eggs but my body does not love them. But I rarely miss eating an egg. One can get accustomed to just about anything I reckon.
You are NOT getting dumber by the day! My reply was to Shoreacres and yes, you’ve guessed right, I do keep birds. We’ve just had one canary chick hatch out, the sweetest little thing imaginable! I’d read that crushed eggshell was good for them but haven’t tried it yet. I make up a mix that I found on a canary breeder’s site which includes hard boiled eggs. I currently give them oyster grit and cuttle fish bone but I shall try the crushed eggshell. Salmonella is the pits. I felt so ill and was in a lot of pain for about a week. That said, I was lucky, some peeps get it really bad and the effects of the poisoning last much longer. I’m sorry that I’ve been off-radar for such a long time. Needless to say I’ve been very busy but I promise to catch up properly with you soon. Who knows, there may even be a blog post as well!! xxxxxx
Lottie, my cents here, for what it’s worth. If I were you I’d skip the egg shells since those can introduce disease if the eggs are produced in “who knows what” conditions. I would be very suspect of any egg after getting salmonella. Keep using the oyster grit or shells which you can make even finer. I gave my ring necked dove oyster grit, oyster shells and, a special mineral grit that was a pinkish or reddish color. She lived to around 28 years old. Really old but, that breed if caged will live a long time or so I’ve read.
I well imagine that your canaries are so cute, charming and, sing their hearts out for you and Pete. I love birds but at my age they are too much work for me since I have other pets.
I’m very worry that you have been sicker than a “junk yard dog” as we sometimes say here. Or “sick as a dog” as my dad used to say. You could have died from the germ. It is a good thing that you are overall healthy and of strong will or you would have been in hospital. I’m sure that bout of illness left you quite weak and it takes time to fully recuperate.
I will try to be in touch soon as well. I know you are up to your ears in work. But, I sure would love to read a new post on your blog. Take care. xxxxx
Finely crushed eggshell is good for birds, too. It gives them a needed boost for stronger shells in their own eggs. I save shells, crush them up really well and mix them with the birdseed.
Right you are Linda. It’s always good to help out the birds. I never have any left over because I feed the egg and the shell to my old dogs. Oyster shell can be obtained at a feed store and that added to a bird feeder. It aids in thickness thus making the shell tougher. My parents always added oyster shell to the hens feed.
Lottie I know that I’m getting dumber by the day but I’m not sure if your comment was meant for me or for Linda of Shoreacres.(it says in reply to shoreacres) I’ve had WP mess up my comments before and I’m not sure why this happens. When I clicked on comments through my dashboard there were about 8-10 new folks that had commented in a relevant manner on various posts. But when I tried to approve those everyone last one of them was gone in one fell swoop. I’m thinking they had been considered spam but I did not give the okay to delete them. But anyhooo, I’m acknowledging the thank you and I’m also assuming that you either have some caged birds now or that you will put out crushed shell for the wild birds. I hope to be in touch with you soon.
Thanks for this Yvonne. It is becoming so hard to know what we are really eating. How can such a small space be called free-range?
We will have to check locally for pasture raised.
Hi Rod. It’s nice to hear from you. Yes, many chickens are “run” in a 2×2 space and I agree with you that is hardly free range.
However, the pasture raised are in 108 square feet and that’s a good deal more space. It’s 4,000 hens in 10 acres and the hens are rotated to new grassy areas on a regular basis.
I hope that you can find a local source for your eggs. Check the paper and if there is a farmer’s market you can ask around. There might even be eggs sold at the farmer’s market.
We have switched to pasture eggs laid by happy stress free chickens that have access to open grass, can socialise and perch.
Don’t buy barn laid because conditions are often worse than caged hens.
Gerard, It’s great that you are buying pasture eggs now. You are right about the barn thing. That is miss leading since yes, the birds are in a barn but they are caged inside a barn.
We, as a species, are so inhumane in so many ways. Around 1974/75, Pam Ayres made a name for herself (and a lengthy career) by writing and presenting her poems about “life”. She wrote one called “The Battery Hen” which, while written with a wry sense of humor, does present a battery hen’s life as something less than desirable.
Caution: Pam Ayres speaks with an extremely strong accent, and her writing is full of slang. Google finds her, and her poems very easily! It is a 6 verse poem, the last verse of which is below:
I see the Time and Motion clock,
Is sayin’ nearly noon,
I ‘spec me squirt of water,
Will come flyin’ at me soon,
And then me spray of pellets,
Will nearly break me leg,
And I’ll bite the wire nettin’
And lay one more bloody egg
Thank you for the poem. It is very sad but a good one. I’d never heard of Pam Ayres but I like the slang. It makes the poem sound more “human” and tells it like it is. I’d like to add it to the post if you don’t mind and I’ll provide a link to your blog if that is ok with you. I probably don’t have time today for that and I’ll wait to see if you give me a nod that you are okay with that.
Please feel free to add it to your Post, but ensure that Pam Ayres clearly gets the credit for writing it. Thx. 🙂
Absolutely, that’s the correct way and I’ll give Ms. Ayres credit for her poem. I have always done that in the past since it’s proper and ethical.
I think the poem will add a lot to the egg post. I hope to do that tonight if I’m not too tired. I will also include your blog name and that you gave me the idea in your comment. 🙂 I have it handy right now to copy and paste when I get around to the addition.
Please note you have her last name incorrect. Should be Ayres and not Ayers.
Oh so sorry, I was in a rush when I answered you comment, Thank you and I will correct that in my comments to you.
For the reasons you list, we buy our eggs from a family in our neighborhood, Yvonne. There had been two families raising laying chickens, but one stopped after a fisher cat wiped out most of their hens. The eggs are great, mostly brown, and a lot less expensive than even the commercial variety.
Steve, you are fortunate to get your eggs locally and yes the eggs are always cheaper from a local source.That is a huge bonus for you. Such a shame that the Fisher got all the chickens but I think with proper fencing the predators can be prevented from getting to the chickens. The fence must be made from the correct gauge of wire and put down in concrete. A guard dog on patrol such as those used with sheep and goat flocks is a good addition as well. But I’m assuming that family will not go to those lengths but maybe down the road.
That family probably will not and I am pretty sure they are done with chickens. But the next door neighbor has taken precautions and I think they will be sourcing us eggs for the foreseeable future. Should they ever stop then we will find another home farmer. 🙂
It surely is nice to have good neighbors, especially those with chickens. You are fortunate to have a source of eggs nearby.
We look very carefully at the source of our eggs and are willing to pay more for real free range. My sister-in-law’s neighbour keeps chickens and she gets eggs from them – they taste completely different (better). Supermarkets could do a lot more to improve animal welfare but the consumer generally wants cheap. The two are not compatible.
You and Shirley are wise to carefully choose the eggs you buy. It does make a difference and I feel, as you say that supermarkets could do a better job. Market is consumer driven and the demand for beef, dairy and, eggs that are humanely produced would result in a huge improvement in how these items are brought to market. More education is needed and of course that could start with the stores but I’m afraid that is not going to happen. Advocacy groups are needed and demands presented to government. Maybe, then lots of changes will occur. California is beginning to make a few strides in the direction of humanely produced eggs but other states have not been following as far as I know.