How an Egg goes from Farm to Table
Have you ever wondered where eggs come from? Chickens lay eggs, and there are farmers who keep chickens. That’s probably the farthest your thinking has taken you, and probably as far as most people will get. The reality of how an egg gets from a farm to your table is very complicated, from where the egg starts inside of a hen, then how it gets cleaned and shipped to your local supermarket, until it ends up on your table for breakfast.
Let’s start with a simplified summary of how a hen produces an egg. A hen will produce an egg inside of her body, which takes a little bit longer than one day, so a little over 24 hours. Once that egg is ready to come out, the hen will pretty much scream, cry, and use all of the muscles in her body to push that precious little egg out, which takes anywhere from few minutes to a few hours. A hen’s job is usually done here, and she will go back to business until another egg comes out, a little over a day later.
From here, it’s the job of a human to take this egg to your table. It will first be collected by either a person or a machine to be cleansed in some sort of way. How it will be collected and cleaned is different for every farm. The now clean egg will be packaged into those familiar looking egg cartons, and the egg cartons are stamped with a sell-by date. A bunch of these egg cartons will be packaged into an even larger box, and will get shipped by boat or by a big truck to your local supermarket after being shaken around for a few hours.
Finally, you or someone in your family will go grocery shopping, decide they need eggs, grab a carton, and purchase it for a few dollars. The price of a dozen eggs greatly varies, but it should be anywhere from 2 – 5 dollars, right?
All this work, from the hen working to lay an egg, to shipping, to you driving a few miles to the supermarket and back, and it finally reaches your table. That egg must be pretty shaken after that long journey!
The Reality of Supermarket Eggs
As I explained above, that egg you ate for breakfast has probably traveled miles from the farm to your table, and let’s admit: its not the freshest thing in the world. Eggs are incredible, and if they are stored correctly, it can last for about 3 months, which also means that the sell-by date on that egg carton might be a date 3 months from when it was laid by the hen, and you just didn’t notice. I’m not saying all eggs are like that, but its just something to think about.
Another thing I realized, was that a dozen eggs are 2 – 5 dollars. Even if it didn’t include shipping, that means that the hard work of a hen laying an egg is only worth 15 – 40 cents! All that screaming and crying for a few hours to push that big egg out is only worth 40 cents at most. Isn’t that kind of sad? I didn’t even mention the toll it takes on their bodies to produce a single egg.
Let’s take a look at laying an egg in a hen’s point of view.
I am a hen, and I don’t have a name. I live in a tiny cage where all I can do is sit or stand. This cage that I live in is made of wire, so my feet are sore and have blisters all over them. I’ve heard from birds twittering outside that there is a different world where things are brighter, and they get to run around and stretch their wings. I don’t get to do that. All I do is eat a specific amount of food, drink a specific amount of water, and stand or sit around until its time for an egg to come out.
When that egg comes out, its excruciating and its painful, but its the only time I’m happy. Happy that perhaps I’m is going to become a mother! After all, a hen produces eggs to make the next generation. But no, I’m always slapped in the face with reality, that it was just false happiness when that human comes along to take my precious egg again, and I won’t ever see it again.
Once every…two years, I think? A bunch of older hens in cages are taken somewhere, never to be seen again. I’ve heard from birds whispering outside that they get taken somewhere to be killed. Maybe that’s better than living in a cage, but I don’t know.
When I was still a baby chick sleeping inside of an egg, I was so excited to meet my brothers and sisters chirping quietly inside of their own eggs. We all hatched at the same time, and saw each other for the first time. I was really happy. But then we were put on a cold conveyor belt to be grabbed by humans who would tell us if we were male or female. The males were thrown into a little chute, and females were put in big crates. A girl sitting next to me saw what was down the chute. She said all the boys were being ground up alive. She never spoke again.
Us females were taken to a big place where there was lots of food and water. We lived there for a short time until we were almost adults. Then, another human came along and started grabbing us and pushing our faces into this machine. I couldn’t tell what was happening until it was my turn, but I was horrified. The machine was cutting half of our beaks off with a burning hot blade! It was instant, but I was in pain for the next few weeks and couldn’t eat or drink very much. A lot of my sisters died this way.
After enduring all of these things, I was put into this cage that I live in now, sitting here to lay eggs. I wonder what being alive really means. But sadly I’ll never know.
So What Exactly Am I Doing?
After reading all of that, you probably feel horrible about eating that egg for breakfast. Don’t worry, the majority of people don’t even know this horror happening behind eggs. Plus, its not all egg farms that do this.
My goal is to run a sustainable egg farming business. My business will have different breeds of chickens all of whom lay different rare colored eggs that you wouldn’t normally see in a supermarket such as blue, green or pink. The ultimate goal is to keep these chickens until they die naturally of old age, and to let them live even after their individual egg production has decreased. Most other commercial egg producers in the egg industry usually cull their hens at about 1.5 – 2 years old, when their egg production starts to decrease. A chicken’s normal lifespan can be anywhere from around 8 – 15 years, and being killed at 2 years is just too cruel. I would like to change that by finding an affordable and sustainable way to let the chickens live freely and happily until their time is over.
A lot of us people keep dogs and cats as pets, right? Some people also keep chickens. But for some reason, they don’t want their chickens anymore when they stop laying eggs. Why? Dogs and cats don’t make food for you, but you still keep them. Why should it be any different for chickens?
There are so many doubts and queries I have about the relationship between chickens and humans. Where have things gone wrong? When was it decided that chickens had to lay eggs in order to qualify as a pet? I have no idea. But I’m here to change that. Chickens are lovable fluffy birds that deserve rights, just like every other animal, and person.
To Summarize My Main Goals:
- Let hens live until they die naturally.
- Keep hens in the most natural way possible.
- Rescue lost wild chicks.
- Rescue roosters from people who cannot keep roosters, hens from people who do not want old hens who do not lay eggs.
- Rescue poultry from breeders who mistreat their birds or mistreat birds that are out of specification (don’t have the nicest feathers, etc).