most humane eggs
Photo: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. From fluffy omelets to sunny side ups, from savory quiche to crème brûlée, this comprehensive guide to “vegan eggs” showcases incredible recipe creations, mouthwatering photos, and heaps of egg-free baking tips. However, eggs sold for human consumption are not fertilized (most egg-laying hens never even have a chance to mate. In chickens, the ovary is a cluster of developing ova, or yolks. Debeaking is standard practice in the egg industry, including on most cage-free and free-range egg farms. Destroying male chicks is standard egg industry practice worldwide (see the 5 second graphic video below). Once a yolk is fully developed, it is released from the ovary into the oviduct, a long, convoluted tube made up of five different sections: the infundibulum or funnel; the magnum; the isthmus; the uterus or shell gland; and the vagina. By the time hens reach the slaughterhouse at 18 months to 2 years of age, their wing and leg bones are frequently riddled with painful breaks. Photo: Peter Sakas, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Poultry Extension, Small and Backyard Flocks: Frequently Asked Questions, An HSUS Report: The Welfare of Animals In the Egg Industry, The Morally Informed Consumer: Examining Animal Welfare Claims on Egg Labels. Dr. Peter Sakas, the veterinarian who treats all of Free from Harm’s rescued chickens, recently sent this image (right) after surgically removing more than one pound of rotting egg material from the uterus of another hen. Backyard Eggs are also Certified Humane, and Non-GMO Verified (this is a big deal since most non-organic hens eat GMO feed). Each of these sections is like a station along an assembly line and is responsible for a specific stage of egg formation. The unnaturally high rates of labor intensive, energy depleting egg production that modern hens are forced to sustain means that even on small farms and backyard chicken operations, hens are virtual prisoners inside their own bodies. The birds are crammed … Rodriguez, Sheila. These conventionally-raised, factory-farmed eggs come from birds who are kept in wire battery cages stacked by the thousands on top of each other inside warehouses without fresh air or sunlight. Pastured eggs contain 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more Vitamin A and 4 times the amount of omega-3. “Cage free” hens are packed into large warehouses often containing more than five thousand birds apiece. Ideally the best egg is organic, pastured (or free-range), USDA A or AA, stamped with the Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved seal. Backyard chickens and free-range farm eggs are the most humane, but if you can't access these two types, Certified Humane cage-free eggs are your next best bet. Egg production is ugly business for most chickens that supply our supermarkets. Egg labels are often intentionally deceiving. The two largest yolks are fully developed and would next break away from the ovary to begin the process of shell formation. At the hatcheries that supply female chicks to factory egg farms, small farms, and backyard egg hen enthusiasts, male chicks are sorted and killed shortly after birth by being ground up alive in giant macerators, gassed, or left to suffocate in garbage bags and dumpsters. Tried and tested: these easy vegan sunny side ups (pictured with vegan sausage) from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook taste so much like the real thing you won’t believe your mouth. Sure, the chickens weren't in cages, but their living conditions were no better than if they were crammed into cages of a similarly puny size, Hsiung wrote in a contributed piece for the Huffington Post. Just because one egg gets stuck and cannot be laid, it does not stop her body from making another egg the next day, and the next, and the next…”. Not technically, since eggs sold for human consumption are unfertilized, but the global egg industry kills millions of newborn baby chicks every single day. This means that all eggs, even those from rescued hens, are the product of a long line of injustice. Online The longest stage of egg production occurs in the shell gland or uterus. The birds are crammed so tightly, they can not even spread their wings. Certified Humane. See also: The Happy Herbivore’s detailed Guide to Egg Substitutes for Baking and the all vegan baking website veganbaking.net. The ovum remains in the infundibulum for 15 to 18 minutes, and it is here where fertilization would occur if the hen mated with a rooster. This is a main reason egg-laying hens are so commonly afflicted with debilitating osteoporosis, as the near constant production of an unnatural quantity of eggs depletes their bodies of massive amounts of calcium. Even the most rigorous humane labeling certification programs in the U.S., Certified Humane, American Humane Certified, and Animal Welfare Approved, permit the killing of male chicks at the hatcheries which supply their egg farms with laying hens.5. Sweet Pea in her last days of life. “Cage free” and “free range” eggs are better from a humane standpoint than battery caged eggs, but they’re not as much better as you might think. In women, a mature egg is released from the ovary once a month. In the U.S. alone, more than 260 million male chicks are killed in the egg industry every year… that’s around 30,000 newborn chicks killed every hour just for eggs. Sweet Pea was a cherished Free from Harm rescue with an incredibly sweet disposition and tremendous zest for life. The Red Jungle Fowl lays 10-15 eggs per year, and the average size of each brood is 4-6 chicks.” Humane Society of the United States, About Chickens. We need to encourage pastured egg and chicken production. But in the wild, chickens, like all birds, lay only during breeding season — primarily in the spring — and only enough eggs to assure the survival of their genes. “The Morally Informed Consumer: Examining Animal Welfare Claims on Egg Labels,” Temple Journal of Science, Technology & Environmental Law, 51 (2011). Photo: Tufts OpenCourseWare/ Creative Commons 3.0. Eggs are also high in vitamin E, protein and healthy fats, as well as relatively low in calories, so having an egg to start your day can easily help you crack open the key to a healthy breakfast. Below are some quick facts, resources, and an article shedding light on the cruelties inherent in egg production and consumption. The group has created standards, including free-range hens having a minimum of two square feet of outdoor space per bird and pasture-raised hens having 108-square-feet each.Â, While Certified Humane Free-range and pasture-raised eggs are certainly the most humane, AdeleÂ Douglas, who has verified humane standards for the organization, wrote that cage-free eggs may be the best alternative to pasture-raisedÂ in some regions where year-round outdoor access for chickens is not possible. "Â, From a health perspective, Dana Hunnes, a dietitian at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health, said in an email that she would choose Certified Humane "cage-free organic whenever possible." The first stop is the infundibulum, a 3-4 inch long muscular portion of the oviduct which engulfs the ovum, or yolk, released from the ovary. (eating these little critters are what make the egg yolks so golden). Conditions on egg farms are so miserable that many consider eggs the cruelest animal product of all. We hospitalized, stabilized her, and in a few days performed an exploratory surgery. The third stop is the isthmus, a constricted portion of tissue where the inner and outer shell membranes of the developing egg are added over a period of 75 minutes. Unfortunately, we don’t always know what the labels on the egg cartons mean. Despite the best veterinary treatment, Sweet Pea suffered in her final days before succumbing to this common killer. Like egg binding, prolapse is commonly a result of small birds being genetically manipulated to lay an unnaturally high rate of unnaturally large eggs. The organic eggs from Costco brand Kirkland are Certified Humane: While not pasture raised, they’re cage- and antibiotic-free. Their bodies could never sustain the physical depletion of laying the hundreds of eggs that domestic chickens have been forced to produce through genetic manipulation. Overproduction of eggs is responsible for numerous disorders in hens, including often fatal diseases of the reproductive tract; osteoporosis and accompanying bone fractures; and, in some cases, total skeletal paralysis, sometimes referred to as “caged layer fatigue.”, Osteoporosis and bone fragility from unnatural lay rates are also greatly exacerbated by lack of exercise: more than 95% of egg laying hens in the U.S. spend their entire lives confined in battery cages so small they cannot even spread their wings.5. Even the word "humane" isn't USDA certified, so really any egg producer could print it on their packaging without many consequences.Â, Of course, if you can visit the farm or site where eggs are laid (such as your own or a neighbor's backyard), you can verify that the chickens are living in appropriate conditions, but for those in urban areas, coordinating a coop visit may not be in the realm of grocery-shopping possibility. If the egg is not fertilized, it is eliminated through menstruation, a process which exacts a heavy toll on the female body.
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