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Free-Range Eggs & Being Vegan

Here's the original post:

I'm am a veteran ovo-lacto vegetarian, and just went vegan in the beginning of 2008.  I went veg*n for animal rights/ethical reasons.  I know store bought free-range, cage-free is actually a big sham and that the practices are horrific. Lately, a few people have asked me about raising my own animals - if I would eat the eggs then.  For instance, my husband (who is ovo-lacto veggie), buys eggs from his friend who has a small farm in northern liberty.  She doesn't really sell them - just to a few close friends - she charges him like $1 for a dozen.  but we've been to her property, the chickens seemingly live a very happy life.  I've been asked the same questions about milk - if i had a single cow, and milked it - would it be okay then?

My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

My argument for not drinking milk:  it's not natural to consume the milk of another animal.

I live in the mid-west and don't know a lot of other vegans (ok, none).  So i'm turning to you guys for other reasons.  I don't even know if mine are justifiable reasons.  I mean, i am completely comfortable saying, "i just don't.  it's my choice."...  but i'm curious about other reasons people have.  It would be very insightful. 

Thanks!

i agree that it is exploitation of the plants and land (foraging as the exception), BUT since it is almost impossible in todays society to forage anywhere, i lessen my exploitation by taking advantage of the fact that it is more sustainable to eat only plants.

but i do also think that plants and animals are different in terms of feelings, etc. i don't feel bad about uprooting a plant. anyway, if i didn't do it because for some reason i did feel bad about the killing of it, i would die and be taking life anyway, so yeah.

Cue the Arrogant Worms singing "Carrot Juice is Murder."
And yes, they're veg*ns. That's the point.

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I have 4 hens and 2  roosters. When we decided to bring the chickens here from my Mother In Law's house, they were always intended as pets-the eggs are just a bonus.

My chickens are FAR from exploited- they are well fed, well cared for and very happy. If they all stopped laying eggs tommorrow, they'd still be here scratching around my yard, eating bugs and taking dust baths.

Most of the time, if they lay an egg, they really have no desire to keep it. They will usually lay it and walk away from it.  On occasion they go broody, and have a crazy desire to sit on their eggs. The breeds of chickens I have aren't prone to broodyness, and in 5 years I had one hen go broody for like 2 days, and then she decided chasing/eating moths was much more fun.

Yes, we eat their eggs. I refuse to buy/eat store eggs so we too often go without during the winter months because my girls are getting older and laying is more erradic, and my blackstar girlie stopped laying this year. I just added a new younger Rhode Island Red hen named Willie to my crew, and she's a pretty hardy layer..she's given me an egg daily since shes been here.

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Eating eggs, even from 'pet' ones, encourages the notion that animals are here to provide sustenance for us, which of course is false.

Also, chickens only lay lots of eggs due to the breeding/genetic selection by humans. Wild fowl lay few eggs throughout the year. Also, since nutrients are lost via laying eggs, it's best to break the eggs and give them back to the chickens. All chickens I've met go loopy for eggs to eat. If in a rare case, they won't be eaten, give them to your companion animals or donate to a sanctuary for feeding rescue animals. Eggs are particularly good for dog coat condition.

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Eating eggs, even from 'pet' ones, encourages the notion that animals are here to provide sustenance for us, which of course is false.

Also, chickens only lay lots of eggs due to the breeding/genetic selection by humans. Wild fowl lay few eggs throughout the year. Also, since nutrients are lost via laying eggs, it's best to break the eggs and give them back to the chickens. All chickens I've met go loopy for eggs to eat. If in a rare case, they won't be eaten, give them to your companion animals or donate to a sanctuary for feeding rescue animals. Eggs are particularly good for dog coat condition.

Hybrids/commercial breeds don't lay more eggs.  They lay more in a shorter amount of time.  All hens have about 1000 egg embryos in their ovary - they only use one - at birth.  The frequency in which they lay these eggs depends on feed, genetics, day length, etc.  Hens also lay independent of fertilization.  They will lay even when a rooster is not present.

Feeding eggs back to chickens is a VERY bad idea.  It causes fighting, 'egg-eating' behavior and excessive stress.  If they have adequate nutrition, they do not need their eggs fed back to them.

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Eating eggs, even from 'pet' ones, encourages the notion that animals are here to provide sustenance for us, which of course is false.

Also, chickens only lay lots of eggs due to the breeding/genetic selection by humans. Wild fowl lay few eggs throughout the year. Also, since nutrients are lost via laying eggs, it's best to break the eggs and give them back to the chickens. All chickens I've met go loopy for eggs to eat. If in a rare case, they won't be eaten, give them to your companion animals or donate to a sanctuary for feeding rescue animals. Eggs are particularly good for dog coat condition.

Hybrids/commercial breeds don't lay more eggs.  They lay more in a shorter amount of time.  All hens have about 1000 egg embryos in their ovary - they only use one - at birth.  The frequency in which they lay these eggs depends on feed, genetics, day length, etc.  Hens also lay independent of fertilization.  They will lay even when a rooster is not present.

Feeding eggs back to chickens is a VERY bad idea.  It causes fighting, 'egg-eating' behavior and excessive stress.  If they have adequate nutrition, they do not need their eggs fed back to them.

Of course they lay more eggs throughout the year. Wild hens rarely lay eggs. And I know they lay without a rooster. It's obvious.

Also, it's not a bad idea, as it provides nutrients back. I've observed no fighting or stress among the chickens I've met. A hen can't have total adequate nutrition unless it's in the wild since it can forage appropriately for all the nutrients it needs. We assume we know what nutrients a chicken needs, but only a chicken on their own, looking for their own food will know...that said, there's nothing wrong with feeding eggs back to chickens. It's better they have it than humans.

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Eating eggs, even from 'pet' ones, encourages the notion that animals are here to provide sustenance for us, which of course is false.

Also, chickens only lay lots of eggs due to the breeding/genetic selection by humans. Wild fowl lay few eggs throughout the year. Also, since nutrients are lost via laying eggs, it's best to break the eggs and give them back to the chickens. All chickens I've met go loopy for eggs to eat. If in a rare case, they won't be eaten, give them to your companion animals or donate to a sanctuary for feeding rescue animals. Eggs are particularly good for dog coat condition.

Hybrids/commercial breeds don't lay more eggs.  They lay more in a shorter amount of time.  All hens have about 1000 egg embryos in their ovary - they only use one - at birth.  The frequency in which they lay these eggs depends on feed, genetics, day length, etc.  Hens also lay independent of fertilization.  They will lay even when a rooster is not present.

Feeding eggs back to chickens is a VERY bad idea.  It causes fighting, 'egg-eating' behavior and excessive stress.  If they have adequate nutrition, they do not need their eggs fed back to them.

Of course they lay more eggs throughout the year. Wild hens rarely lay eggs. And I know they lay without a rooster. It's obvious.

Also, it's not a bad idea, as it provides nutrients back. I've observed no fighting or stress among the chickens I've met. A hen can't have total adequate nutrition unless it's in the wild since it can forage appropriately for all the nutrients it needs. We assume we know what nutrients a chicken needs, but only a chicken on their own, looking for their own food will know...that said, there's nothing wrong with feeding eggs back to chickens. It's better they have it than humans.

Based on past posts, I know dl-bailey to be very knowledgeable about chickens & their care... ruziko, may I ask your qualifications? How many chickens do you keep? are there sources (anybody) for your pro- or anti- 'feed the eggs back to them' approach? I may yet have some backyard chiclets, later this year, and would like to see this question resolved (I also want some guineas, they are SO fun to watch! very goofy animals, and they get rid of pesky yard-bugs... is THAT exploitation? doesn't seem so, to me...)

Btw: a hen certainly *CAN* have adequate nutrition, without being 'in the wild'... which is great, or lots of beloved pets would surely starve! I think you're glamorizing wild hen species and forgetting that there are millions of domestic breeds that currently (regardless of your ideals) do exist. There isn't enough habitat for all of them to 'live wild'... For better or worse, they ARE domestic animals; whether it suits your ideal vision or not, most domestic hens DO lay a heck of a lot of unfertilized eggs.

My family kept chickens when I was a kid, and we never fed them their own eggs... We ate the eggs, and used any we didn't need for dog/ cat treats. I personally still think that's a good approach; for me, occasional pet-chicken eggs are a way more sustainable/ low impact B12 source than supplements or processed/ fortified foods... I certainly don't 'exist to provide food for chickens,' but sometimes I DO provide food for chickens; if they then produce something that fills a nutritional need for me, at no harm to themselves, then in my opinion that's a nice little symbiosis. Is that their reason for existing? No way. Is it wasteful to disregard these harm-free eggs, in favor of more packaged/ more shipped/ more processed food that meets the same need? I think it is. That's just my choice, I'm not trying to convince anyone: only express how it looks to me. Like with any ethical choice, people clearly feel differently about this issue. I think -- like with any ethical issue -- it's a good idea to decide for yourself, and not try to dictate to others what your Truth says that *they* should do.

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Eating eggs, even from 'pet' ones, encourages the notion that animals are here to provide sustenance for us, which of course is false.

Also, chickens only lay lots of eggs due to the breeding/genetic selection by humans. Wild fowl lay few eggs throughout the year. Also, since nutrients are lost via laying eggs, it's best to break the eggs and give them back to the chickens. All chickens I've met go loopy for eggs to eat. If in a rare case, they won't be eaten, give them to your companion animals or donate to a sanctuary for feeding rescue animals. Eggs are particularly good for dog coat condition.

Hybrids/commercial breeds don't lay more eggs.  They lay more in a shorter amount of time.  All hens have about 1000 egg embryos in their ovary - they only use one - at birth.  The frequency in which they lay these eggs depends on feed, genetics, day length, etc.  Hens also lay independent of fertilization.  They will lay even when a rooster is not present.

Feeding eggs back to chickens is a VERY bad idea.  It causes fighting, 'egg-eating' behavior and excessive stress.  If they have adequate nutrition, they do not need their eggs fed back to them.

Of course they lay more eggs throughout the year. Wild hens rarely lay eggs. And I know they lay without a rooster. It's obvious.

Also, it's not a bad idea, as it provides nutrients back. I've observed no fighting or stress among the chickens I've met. A hen can't have total adequate nutrition unless it's in the wild since it can forage appropriately for all the nutrients it needs. We assume we know what nutrients a chicken needs, but only a chicken on their own, looking for their own food will know...that said, there's nothing wrong with feeding eggs back to chickens. It's better they have it than humans.

Based on past posts, I know dl-bailey to be very knowledgeable about chickens & their care... ruziko, may I ask your qualifications? How many chickens do you keep? are there sources (anybody) for your pro- or anti- 'feed the eggs back to them' approach? I may yet have some backyard chiclets, later this year, and would like to see this question resolved (I also want some guineas, they are SO fun to watch! very goofy animals, and they get rid of pesky yard-bugs... is THAT exploitation? doesn't seem so, to me...)

Btw: a hen certainly *CAN* have adequate nutrition, without being 'in the wild'... which is great, or lots of beloved pets would surely starve! I think you're glamorizing wild hen species and forgetting that there are millions of domestic breeds that currently (regardless of your ideals) do exist. There isn't enough habitat for all of them to 'live wild'... For better or worse, they ARE domestic animals; whether it suits your ideal vision or not, most domestic hens DO lay a heck of a lot of unfertilized eggs.

My family kept chickens when I was a kid, and we never fed them their own eggs... We ate the eggs, and used any we didn't need for dog/ cat treats. I personally still think that's a good approach; for me, occasional pet-chicken eggs are a way more sustainable/ low impact B12 source than supplements or processed/ fortified foods... I certainly don't 'exist to provide food for chickens,' but sometimes I DO provide food for chickens; if they then produce something that fills a nutritional need for me, at no harm to themselves, then in my opinion that's a nice little symbiosis. Is that their reason for existing? No way. Is it wasteful to disregard these harm-free eggs, in favor of more packaged/ more shipped/ more processed food that meets the same need? I think it is. That's just my choice, I'm not trying to convince anyone: only express how it looks to me. Like with any ethical choice, people clearly feel differently about this issue. I think -- like with any ethical issue -- it's a good idea to decide for yourself, and not try to dictate to others what your Truth says that *they* should do.

I have a national diploma in animal management, I've experienced hens, both free range and non and volunteer at a farm sanctuary that regularly has ex battery hens. They also have hens that don't get rehomed and are there full time. I want to have rescue hens but cannot due to the dogs and cats. We were planning to have some ex battery hens before we ended up getting a third dog. Anywho, you don't have to have a degree in hens to know what you're doing. I have plenty of experience seeing hens eat their eggs when cracked for them. Even if they're cracked accidentally, they will be eaten by hens. It's a farce to think that it's ok to eat eggs because it still furthers the notion that eggs are intended for humans when they're not, and they're not even good for us - cholestorol bombs for sure. If you eat eggs, other people will see and think it's ok to eat eggs to and there's no guarantee they'll source it from 'pets'.

I'm not sure why you keep assuming that I think hens don't lay lots of eggs when I've made it clear DOMESTICATED hens do, hence my continous pointing out that wild hens do not lay many eggs in the year and that it is only through domestication, selective breeding and genetics by human hand that the current domesticated hen lays so much.

No animal we care for can get the utmost nutrition because we do not know the full proof diet for any animal that provides EVERYTHING and leaves no room for obeseity or aneamia and such like. Commercial pet foods, and even 'raw' diets from human grown animals or crops will always be nutritionally devoid compared to what grows in the wild. Hens/Chickens/Wtv you wish to call them are omnivorous and their diets in the wild will consist of mainly foliage and insects. Insects are far more plentiful and variant in their natural habitat than in your average grassy garden.

In short, there's nothing wrong with feeding something back to the hen, especially when she loses nutrients laying all those eggs we've bred her to produce, and when the egg shell is good source of calcium for them. There is no need to eat eggs so there is no need to take them away from the chickens coop. Just crack them and give them to the hens.

Just because you believe in exploiting animals, doesn't mean I do. Symbiotic relationships are just an excuse for exploitation. You shouldn't expect the hen to provide for you in order for you to care for her. Humans have brought them into this world (the domesticated ones), so we have a duty to care for them. And I'm not the one dictating, someone made a ridiculous comment in response to my post, so I corrected them.

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I respect your views; I also find it ludicrous that you think anyone who sees things differently than you in any way 'believes in exploiting animals.' I think that's pretty insulting to everyone who uses this site, who isn't just like you (which, based on the diversity of users here, is quite a few folks).

We can agree to disagree; that's cool. I'll take your input under advisement, regarding 'feeding eggs back' to chickens, if I end up getting some.

I think your general tone, though, is just as mired in self-righteous belligerent certainty as the agribusiness 'farmers' who defend their practices, because (a) THEY think it's ok, and (b) they think they are the *only* ones who should get to say what's ok... As the number of good people of differing faith reflects, it's possible for thoughtful folks to disagree without demonizing each other (I'm undoubtedly bound straight for hell, I guess, since I don't attend your church!). Especially on a forum like this, where we prob'ly have more in common than not, this attitude seems counterproductive.

Part of ethical food choices is thinking things through, based on all info available and your moral compass and convictions, and doing what you believe to be right. Following someone else's directions as to what that means, or allowing a group identity to define your decisions is not the best way to go, for ANY ethics question. You can decide for yourself; you can't decide for others; taking a tone of moral judgement towards anyone & everyone else has the OPPOSITE effect of bringing more folks towards thoughtful veg*n ways. Treat the 'backyard egg' issue any way you want, in accordance with what feels like 'the right thing to do,' for you... but turn down the condecension a bit, if your goal is promoting veganism. It's likely to have the opposite effect than the one you intended.

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First, I would like to point out that chickens do not actually exist in the wild.  They are a hybrid of two or possibly three jungle fowl species.  Second, you make the agruement there has been genetic changes in chickens over the last 60 years, yet still argue that they should have the diet of their 'ancestors'.  How could a wild or natural diet adequately supply nutrients to a hen that is laying 250-300 eggs a year?  Third, there is a whole field that studies poultry nutrition.  They may not know the exact forumla fora 'perfect' diet.  However, it is well understood how to avoid major defeciences like anemia.

I think that you are confused about backyard poultry and commercial producers.  Commercial producers want the lowest overhead possible.  They feed hens only what is needed to produce eggs and survive for about 14 months.  It is for prodcution not longevity or health.  Backyard keepers, like me, allow our hens to free range, give them well-formulated feed, a good scratch or seed/grain mix, greens, mealworms, etc.  My hens get regular check-ups and always had a clean bill of health.  I have never had an eggbound hen.

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I gotta agree w/ dl-bailey on this. I've had chickens as pets all my life. If you feed the eggs back to them it can lead to them pecking each other, which is hard to stop once they start. They will occasionally kill a chicken once they get going. Whether or not you eat the eggs is up to you. But don't act like we're dicks for having chickens. They are fun weird pets. I have one that will sit up on our shoulders or heads. Her eggs are tiny, so it's not like we got her to exploit her.

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Just because you believe in exploiting animals, doesn't mean I do. Symbiotic relationships are just an excuse for exploitation. You shouldn't expect the hen to provide for you in order for you to care for her. Humans have brought them into this world (the domesticated ones), so we have a duty to care for them. And I'm not the one dictating, someone made a ridiculous comment in response to my post, so I corrected them.

How are symbiotic relationships just an excuse for exploitation?  If by exploitation you mean they have a mutually beneficial relationship then you would have to say all humans are exploiting all other humans at all times.  Under your definition of exploitation literally EVERYTHING would be exploitation.  

edit: I cant type today!

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Quote:
Just because you believe in exploiting animals, doesn't mean I do. Symbiotic relationships are just an excuse for exploitation.

What? Who are you talking to here?

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Quote:
Just because you believe in exploiting animals, doesn't mean I do. Symbiotic relationships are just an excuse for exploitation.

What? Who are you talking to here?

That would me me!  8-)

In my personal world view, the goal is not 'to be vegan'; my goal is 'to do the least harm.' As it turns out, most of the time that means eating vegan... but I have no problem with eating the eggs of pet chickens, when they are not harmed/ are well loved/ are happy critters living a happy chicken life; their eggs (happy coincidence!) contain things I need that are harder-than-most to arrange, in a vegan diet (b12/omega 3's); and such eggs require no fossil fuel inputs or packaging, result in no trash, and are just about as close to 'no impact' food as you can get. In my mind, that makes them the 'least harm' choice in some circumstances, when animal happiness meets up with sustainable food, and no living thing is harmed in order for me to eat it.

So, basically, I disagree with the poster of the comment you refer to, on the issue of pet-chicken egg consumption; ergo, I 'believe in exploiting animals.'

(It came as a surprise to me, too! So I definitely understand your confusion.)  ;D

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Here's the original post:

I'm am a veteran ovo-lacto vegetarian, and just went vegan in the beginning of 2008.  I went veg*n for animal rights/ethical reasons.  I know store bought free-range, cage-free is actually a big sham and that the practices are horrific. Lately, a few people have asked me about raising my own animals - if I would eat the eggs then.  For instance, my husband (who is ovo-lacto veggie), buys eggs from his friend who has a small farm in northern liberty.  She doesn't really sell them - just to a few close friends - she charges him like $1 for a dozen.  but we've been to her property, the chickens seemingly live a very happy life.  I've been asked the same questions about milk - if i had a single cow, and milked it - would it be okay then?

My argument for not eating eggs:  they would eventually hatch into baby chicks. in addition, i can't imagine taking the egg from a mother hen....

My argument for not drinking milk:  it's not natural to consume the milk of another animal.

I live in the mid-west and don't know a lot of other vegans (ok, none).  So i'm turning to you guys for other reasons.  I don't even know if mine are justifiable reasons.  I mean, i am completely comfortable saying, "i just don't.  it's my choice."...  but i'm curious about other reasons people have.  It would be very insightful. 

Thanks!

The eggs don't tend to be fertalised...
...on the other hand what do birds natural eat, insects. So if the bird is just used to make eggs, whilst eating the insects, you'd be indirectly causing the bird to do that for your own gain.

Using a laptop isn't natural.

However to get enough milk from a cow for it to be profitable you have to not let the calf in. Cows have strong maternal instincts, so it seems cruel to take their young away from them.

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Quote:
However to get enough milk from a cow for it to be profitable you have to not let the calf in. Cows have strong maternal instincts, so it seems cruel to take their young away from them.

ok im going to jump in here and ask by what you mean "enough"? This might be a simmilar situation... I hate milk, it makes me sick, and factory farmed milk is awful,  but I have a lot of family who lives/d on farms and the cows like getting milked (they come to you when you have the bucket and happily stand still for it)  and they can make enough for a few people in a house hold and still plenty for their baby.

(this of course is what i understand... ive never had a cow)

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Quote:
However to get enough milk from a cow for it to be profitable you have to not let the calf in. Cows have strong maternal instincts, so it seems cruel to take their young away from them.

ok im going to jump in here and ask by what you mean "enough"? This might be a simmilar situation... I hate milk, it makes me sick, and factory farmed milk is awful,  but I have a lot of family who lives/d on farms and the cows like getting milked (they come to you when you have the bucket and happily stand still for it)  and they can make enough for a few people in a house hold and still plenty for their baby.

(this of course is what i understand... ive never had a cow)

That's actually a really good question, I should have probably questions enough.
Enough for a family will certainly be different to enough for a farm trying to make money...
...So if you have some cows, and you're milking them, just make sure the calf get their fair share ;).
Thanks for raising that :).

Edit: of course anyone who is drinking milk from the industry will probably have to use a different argument.

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Quote:
However to get enough milk from a cow for it to be profitable you have to not let the calf in. Cows have strong maternal instincts, so it seems cruel to take their young away from them.

ok im going to jump in here and ask by what you mean "enough"? This might be a simmilar situation... I hate milk, it makes me sick, and factory farmed milk is awful,  but I have a lot of family who lives/d on farms and the cows like getting milked (they come to you when you have the bucket and happily stand still for it)  and they can make enough for a few people in a house hold and still plenty for their baby.

(this of course is what i understand... ive never had a cow)

That's actually a really good question, I should have probably questions enough.
Enough for a family will certainly be different to enough for a farm trying to make money...
...So if you have some cows, and you're milking them, just make sure the calf get their fair share ;).
Thanks for raising that :).

Edit: of course anyone who is drinking milk from the industry will probably have to use a different argument.

I think it's POSSIBLE for milk to be a harm-free food (i.e. harm-free to the cows!)... lactating mammals produce to meet demand; baby drinks more, they make more, baby drinks less, they make less -- anyone who's nursed a baby can relate! overproduction is not uncommon. So in theory, if you have a preggo cow, she has a baby, they are cherished pets, calf nurses to the natural weaning point, you take a small amount of milk each day for your family, then calf is weaned & you stop... I don't think that would hurt the COW... but it's still *breast milk*, and you're still an adult! so, I don't think it would be 'harm free' to the human, even in totally 'best ideal world'... I wouldn't judge the hypothetical milker, at all, but I personally wouldn't eat that stuff with a ten foot pole! so to speak. Ew!

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Excuse me but I haven't read through the entire post, but I will add my thoughts. I don't have a HUGE problem with eggs. Eggs that are not fertilized will not turn into chicks, so that is really not an argument not to eat them. I have considered that someday I might like to have some chickens as pets. I am used to being around chickens and have known people who own them. Chickens I have found to be very docile and sweet-natured creatures. They will always come and sit on my lap. They love to be petted and picked up and all the rest of it. I would have no problem with consuming the eggs they leave behind. Those eggs are waste to the chickens- They have no use for them anymore but they can provide me with some nourishment and are useful in some baking.

The problem with eggs, in my mind's eye, comes in with the question of the rooster. Roosters do not lay eggs. Therefor, less people would be inclined to have them as pets or to raise them for their eggs. In fact, in our current system young male chicks are immediately disposed of. They are more expensive to raise and the factory farmers of our world do not want to bother with them. If we had a slow food system, the roosters may have the opportunity to be raised for meat.

I am not sure if there is any way we can prevent roosters from fertilizing females. I don't know much about this. If, for example, like a cat or dog they could be neutered I would certainly love to have some roosters around with my hens. If not, this could be problematic. If we could prevent the chickens from procreating unless for the purpose of breeding, we might be able to resolve the controversy around eggs. However, it would seem if this were possible it would already have been done?

For personal reasons at this point I've decided to let some eggs back in my diet. The ones that I have come from a local farm where the chickens have have a pretty quality life. I absolutely am still boycotting anything that comes from a factory farm. The way those chickens are treated is pretty inexplicable and I can't imagine anything healthy coming from an animal that is so sick and unhappy. 

Milk to me has always seemed unnatural and I've never appreciated the taste. I also find I have some allergies to it. Milk, in the end, IS for babies and milk that comes from cows is for calves. On the flipside, milk does offer a good source of calcium and vitamin B12. Still, I have always avoided milk even as an omni. Somehow milk has never seemed right to me. And it is very interfering to the cow and her young. It also means that we need to perpetually impregnate the cow, which means waay too many cows and some very unhappy ones. Perhaps small occassional bits from a local farm is reasonable, but I don't know about relying on it regularly on a daily basis.

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UPDATE: As the topic was brought up, I decided to do a little bit of research and I learned a few interesting things. I came across this article for one: http://www.hsus.org/farm/resources/research/practices/welfare_capons.html. So I learned that castrated roosters are called capons and they are slower-growing and fattier, so they appeal especially to the gourmet and ethnic cooks as food. It has come to my attention that at least in the US there are no laws governing castration of these birds. The procedure can be done with no anasthesia, which must be pretty disturbing for the bird especially as its testicles are internal. Definately this is something that needs to change! If the birds are to be castrated, it clearly should only be allowed to be done by a trained vet in sterile settings while the bird is put out. Of course, this procedure would clearly be more expensive which is maybe why no one is bothered. These birds could be castrated, however, if done humanely and still raised as pets or possibly as gourmet food in the companionship of hens.

Hmmm.... I still am not sure what to think. Because clearly so long as we breed chickens as pets and for their eggs, there will be roosters so if we wish to have hens we must consider the rooster. It's a bit of a conundrum for me. Especially as I personally have come to know chickens as pets. Here's an interesting question though: A chicken's average life expectancy is 7 years but they can live up to 12. What if we slaughtered chickens as humanely as possible near the end of their natural life expectancy? What do you guys think of this concept? In our current system chickens are killed very young because it's more profitable, but it we slowed our food system down... To me it might be a bit like eating my cat, but there is merit here...

I also learned tonight that chickens lay about 300 eggs a year. That's more than what I actually thought!

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Some chickens can lay 300 eggs a year but most lay about half that.  The majority of people that are allowed to keep roosters with their backyard flock do.  Its the factory farms that treat them like 'garbage' literally.  I would like to adopt a rooster one of these days.  There are so many that are rescued from illegal cockfighting rings that need good homes. 

People that I know that have kept chickens longterm say they live about 11-14 years.  The 7 years must come from those raised in less than ideal conditions. 

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