Whose Eggs Are They, Anyway?

I got an email from an extreme animal rights person the other day. These people are well-meaning, but so misinformed. They start their arguments with wrong assumptions and then go from there. I’m not going to get sucked into debating him point by point, but I did want to address one of his comments. He said, “the eggs are theirs, aren’t they?”

No, they’re not. We have a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship with our domestic animals. We human caretakers provide food, shelter and a good living environment, and the animal provides something in return; in the case of my hens, they give me eggs.

As far as I can tell, the hens are more than pleased with this arrangement. They don’t want those eggs. Marge lays about 100 eggs a year. She lays them and forgets them. I’m happy to use them in my kitchen. She is pleased to have a home in a cozy coop, safe from predators, and in the company of her friends. She wouldn’t last a few hours loose in the neighborhood (see photo of hawk in the previous blog entry!).

Domestic animals exist because they are useful to humans. I for one, am thankful for their contributions (whether it be meat, milk, wool or eggs.) I’m also grateful for their companionship. I could buy eggs at the market, but I have hens because I like them. If you came here for a visit, I think you’d see that my chickens like me, too.

No doubt, these comments don’t satisfy the animal rights people who don’t believe in the basic concept of domestic animals. These are also the folks who think that positive, enriching dog training is abuse and that all zoos are evil. I know that there’s nothing that I can say that will convince them otherwise. What’s scary is how powerful PETA and other groups are. Keep an eye out for their hidden (and not-so-hidden) agendas. Buy products from farmers who respect the covenant between domestic animal and owner (I buy local, grassfed beef). Encourage small-scale domestic farm animal keeping. The more people have backyard hens and “get” this relationship, the better off we will all be.

(I’ll stop ranting now. Thanks for reading.)


This is why we have hawk netting over the chicken run:

red-tail hawk

A pair of these red-tailed hawks spent much of the morning surveying my backyard yesterday.

Where are the Hens?

Yesterday morning we woke to snow, which turned to freezing rain, which switched to a torrential downpour. The chickens stayed indoors. When chickens get crowded, they get nasty to each other and peck at the lowest hen on the pecking order. The trick is to keep them busy. So right after lunch, I put on rain boots and a coat and a hat and dashed outside with some leftover cornflakes. All of the girls were milling about on the floor of the henhouse, and when they saw the treats, they clucked with appreciation.

About a half hour later, while working at my computer, I turned on the hencam to check on the girls. No one was inside! I checked the outside cam. Huge raindrops on the lens blocked my view, but still, no chickens in sight. Had I left the door open in my haste in the rain? I rushed downstairs and threw on a coat to go see. The rain was now a steady drizzle. The hens had had it with being indoors. All ten of them were crammed under Candy’s hutch, where they could still be outside but relatively dry.

You learn a lot about animals when they have choices about their living environment. Yesterday, the hens could have stayed comfortably indoors, but they chose to be outside, despite the fact that under the hutch they were more crowded than in their coop. Even hens, who are creatures with very small brains, get bored. Even hens prefer fresh air and an interesting landscape. My hens have a comfortable and clean coop and yet they don’t want to be in all day. What does that say about battery caged hens? I don’t want to think about it.