Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Battery Hens

I've been wanting to say something about these animals for a while, and since I discovered that St. Brigid is patron of chicken farmers and this happens to be her feastday, this is a good time.

You may not be familiar with this term, battery hens, but it refers to hens who are housed in battery cages. These are pens small enough to restrict the hen's movement so that she cannot stretch her wings. She stands in this cage her entire life, without respite, on a wire floor that slopes downward in order for her eggs to roll down for collection.

There are better and worst conditions for these battery hens, but it is not unusual for them to lose all of their feathers, leaving them vulnerable to cold and open to disease. Not to mention the gross abuse of their natural, instinctual functions. As a keeper and knower of chickens, I assure you that the animals suffer in these cages. (I have spared us all the gruesome photos and full list of maladies, but included links above if anyone needs more detail.)

This is how a large number of YOUR eggs are produced, the ones you buy at the grocery store, the supposedly "farm-fresh" eggs. Therefore, I urge any and all to please buy your eggs from local producers, home-grown producers, whenever you can. If you have space, consider raising three or four hens of your own.

These eggs will be better for you, and they taste MUCH better than eggs from the store. If you've never had an egg from a living, clucking, scratching, happy chicken, I believe you'll be amazed at the quality these would-be mothers can produce.

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