When I was about 12 I used to work on a chicken farm collecting eggs for pocket money. I’d start work at 5am before school 3 days per week and push a big trolley along corridors of caged chickens. It was similar to this.
The images and sounds of those poor chooks has remained a vivid memory for me and I remember the men who worked there would treat the chickens with no compassion. Sometimes a chicken would escape from a cage and I’d sneak it home. After many weeks of living in my parents’ backyard on a diet of kitchen scraps and green grass the chicken would grow it’s feathers back and thank me with a supply of fresh eggs.
The farm company was Inghams and I happily say publicly that the conditions those birds were kept in at those farms was absolutely disgraceful and cruel. Their beaks were cut off, their feathers ripped off from rubbing and overcrowding in the tiny confined cages, the chicken shit was piled so high that they were literally standing in it and often there were sick or dead chooks in the cramped cage. Looking back I’m surprised it didn’t have more of an impact on me. Being a kid, I suppose I just thought it was normal. It’s good to see now that the poultry industry has some scrutiny and hopefully things have improved. I will always buy free range eggs, but after going to the supermarket recently I wondered what free range really meant.
The range of eggs available is huge and potentially misleading. What are “barn laid” eggs anyway? I’m picturing a nice romantic barn with a few dozen chooks. Unlikely. More likely a cramped shed with the lights on 24/7 and shit piled everywhere.
I was surprised to see the differences in free range eggs. Most publish the average amount of area that each chook has to range free. I’d put money on it that figure is skewed. Maybe I’m just too cynical.
You can even watch the chickens on chookcam.
click this link for chookcam
But after looking at all of the eggs on the shelves I decided on these. 6 square metres per chook. Even if that’s a bit skewed it’s a big difference to 1 square metre and I feel just a little bit better about buying them and they aren’t that much more expensive.
Eventually I’ll get some of my own chickens on the island. It would be good to get some escapees from the battery farms.