Chickens don’t want to be astronauts, actors or alchemists.
The only thing a chicken wants is to be allowed to be a chicken.
Which sounds like a pretty simple request, but billions and billions of them live and die without even experiencing this simple joy, or, should I say, right.
Today the Australian government will meet to discuss a long overdue national standard for what defines ‘free range’. In the words of RuPaul, I beg them
Even this is preferable to cages, but when you look at all the land we have in Australia, it is just laziness and greed that stops farmers from allowing chickens to experience some degree of ‘chickenness’.
Anyone who has kept chickens at home knows they are each unique individuals who like to lay their eggs in private and explore the outdoors for treats and adventure from sun-up to sun-down.
Already in the ACT only farms with stocking densities of 1,500 hens, or less, per hectare can sell their eggs labelled as free range, but farmers are pushing for a national limit of 10,000 instead.
I hope that one National Gallery of Australia in the ACT features a picture of a chicken- theirs is a story that really needs to be heard.
Maybe also a portrait in the Archibald Prize?
The industry is fear mongering that eggs will suddenly ‘become unaffordable’.
Why? As more producers get on board, prices normally drop. Considering what goes into them, they are already ‘cheep’..even if costs did rise marginally at the check out, they will actually be better ‘value’ (nutritionally) for the end consumer.
Why should millions of chickens suffer miserable conditions 24 hours a day just to allow people to save 24 cents (to spend on treats for themselves?) – Australian households already spend one of the lowest global percentages of their income on food. (Pakistan 45%; Russia 30%; Mexico 24%; Italy 14%, Australia 11%) http://wsm.wsu.edu/researcher/wsmaug11_billions.pdf
Even at $7 a dozen for true pastured eggs that is only 58c per egg. A dozen can provide the protein component for 6 meals… $1.16 a serve! Compare this to the price of a piece of fish or meat.
Each egg is an individually packaged nutritious food. Other individually packaged foods of a similar weight like as muesli bars, chips and chocolates cost the same or significantly more than that, and also cost the health system. Speaking of dozens…basic Krispy Kreme donuts will set you back $19.95. And give you a fat arse.
Our constitution doesn’t guarantee the people an uninfringeable ‘right to bear eggs ‘! Eggs are not like water or air: many millions of people avoid eggs due to their religious beliefs, ethical principles, allergies or taste. Before factory farming, egg consumption was not taken for granted like it is today.
If Australians can’t afford eggs that guarantee even a modicum of a decency for hens, then we shouldn’t eat them.
(Sadly this discussion is happening while cage eggs are still somehow legal. Fortunately it seems their days in Australia may be numbered, as individuals, as well as large organisations such as McDonalds, Hungry Jacks and Subway begin to refuse them.
Many people who would never buy a carton of cage eggs, are less diligent about other sources of them. Be aware of eggs in processed and restaurant/airline foods and of course also when travelling… those chickens you see running around the streets of Asia don’t produce the eggs to feed billions of people – caged hens in diabolical conditions do. Be active and let businesses know that you don’t support caged cruelty.
Edgar’s Mission is a not for profit Farm Sanctuary that seeks to create a humane and just world for humans and non-humans. Our farm sanctuary currently provides life-long love and care to over 350 rescued animals.
Come for a visit and spend time on The Kindness Trail which will provide you with quotes from some of the finest human minds that will challenge you, inspire you and simply make you smile.
“Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.” St. Francis of Assisi
Why do farmed animals need rescuing?
Few Australians are aware that the vast majority of animals in human care in this country – some 500 million ‘food’ or ‘production’ animals – have been excluded from the protection of our animal welfare legislation.
In particular, millions of farmed animals daily endure lives of abject misery in factory farms. Barely able to move they endure acts of cruelty that would be illegal if they were your cat or dog. Imagine a life without sunshine, without freedom, without being able to socialize, without hope … Welcome to the ‘life’ of a factory-farmed animal.
How has this happened? As custodians of this planet, we have been guilty of playing favourites. We have designated some animals friends and some animals food. Yet they are no different. All share the same ability to suffer, the same need and desire to experience life, for it to have joy, meaning and purpose.
This peacock knows chickens are pretty special!
Sadly, or should I say predictably, big industry got its way today.
The government has failed consumers AND chickens.
Boycott bad eggs!
The government has decided on new rules for free range egg labels that fail consumers. Their proposed information standard allows egg producers stocking at 10,000 hens per hectare to call themselves free range. Their proposed standard does not require that chickens are outdoors.
Boycott bad eggs that have an outdoor stocking density of up to 10,000 hens per hectare.
Eggs that come from chickens that don’t go outside and have high stocking densities don’t meet consumers’ expectations and don’t deserve the free range label. Boycott these eggs and tell Ministers responsible for this decision about your pledge.
To identify which eggs are bad and stock at 10,000 hens per hectare, use CHOICE’s free range egg buying guide.