I was reminded today of one of the really basic obvious reasons for not eating eggs. A principle that a lot of people struggle with and one which I’d sort of forgotten and had started happily eating eggs if I could see that the hens were properly free range and seemed well looked after and happy etc.
What I was reminded of was the fate of all the millions of male chicks which are born up and down the UK and are of no use to the egg industry. Here’s a reminder of what happens to them.
Male chicks are killed for two reasons: they cannot lay eggs and they are not suitable for chicken-meat production. This is because layer hens — and therefore their chicks — are a different breed of poultry to chickens that are bred and raised for meat production. Layer hens are bred to produce eggs whereas meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs.
Chick hatcheries breed one or the other type of chick depending on which poultry industry they supply — egg or meat. At the layer-hen hatcheries supplying the egg industry with layer hens, the eggs are developed in industrial incubators. Once hatched, the newborn chicks pass down a production line to be sexed and sorted. Sick or weak female chicks and all male chicks are separated from the healthy female chicks and then killed.
The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry states that all culled or surplus newly hatched chicks that are destined for disposal must be treated as humanely as those that will be retained or sold. They must be destroyed promptly by a recommended humane method such as carbon dioxide gassing or quick maceration. Chicks must then be carefully inspected to ensure they are all are dead.
Quick maceration ensures the chick is killed within a second and, if carried out effectively and competently, this method is considered more humane than gassing with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing results in gasping and head shaking and, depending on the mixture of gases used, it may take up to two minutes for the chick to die.
Pretty shocking hey? This is one of those things that I found out during my research into veganism and immediately wanted to share with people because presumably they hadn’t realised that this was going on, just as I hadn’t. Like me they just wouldn’t have thought to question what happens to all the make chicks that can’t go on to lay eggs or sit centre stage at the Sunday Roast, breasts wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a juicy lemon. And as soon as they see this footage and realise that this isn’t the rantings of some hair-brained lunatic animal obsessed weirdo – they too would have to stop eating eggs and chicken and having anything whatsoever to do with the egg and poultry industry….. wouldn’t they….?