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To explain, I have met a couple of people recently who eat eggs while claiming to be vegan. One person had an aunt who had rescued chickens, whose eggs she and her aunt ate. Another runs an animal sanctuary, and her family eat the eggs their rescued chickens produce.

Now, in a completely different instance (not the same people), today I was raked over the coals on FB. A person had put up a photo of a dozen eggs in a carton, saying "yummy, healthy eggs". I (thinking the pic was of ordinary eggs, or "free range" eggs) disagreed and said I thought all eggs were cruel, posting a link to the Peaceful Prairie site that explains about chicken exploitation.

This caused several posts rather bullying me, and saying how doted on these peoples' hens are, how they'd had the best vet care - no expense spared, and how tired they were of "zealots". I apologised, saying I hadn't realised they were rescue hens. Then they challenged me, saying they had 34 rescue hens, how many did I have? I replied that I had only 25 rescued roosters, so they were ahead of me there. I had apologised twice to these two women, but it didn't seem to appease them.

I think these women are "animal lovers" but not vegans, if you get my drift (quotation marks used intentionally). They have saved and rehabilitated quite a few animals of different species.

So, what do you guys think of all this? What is the morality of it? My take on it is - OK it's not hurting those particular hens, but there would never be enough of this type of eggs to go around, so it's best to set an example of not eating them at all. Since I am vegan and don't use any animal products, I don't have to make this decision, but what about other people? Would anyone be justified in eating rescued hens eggs?

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Hard to beat this quote from Dr Tuttle:

"I do not support “humane” animal products, and speak out as best I can against them, both in writing, and in the lectures I give – there are invariably people who have a friend who has chickens as pets and want to know if it’s OK to eat their eggs,  for example. Even in these situations, I tell them I feel that there is institutionalized violence – it is a form of himsa (violence) to believe that one “owns” another living being.  If the friend “owns” the hen, she (the hen) is being confined against her will, and is not able to live her life as she did for millennia in the jungles of southeast Asia, and is in an artificial, manipulated, inherently abusive environment. Even the most apparently benign situation, if there’s ownership and money involved, are exploitive, in my opinion, and that’s the perspective I express.   ~  Dr. Will Tuttle "



Honestly, I couldnt say it better if you gave me a million years.  

I think the real issue is how we see Other Animals, in this case, "Hens have to pay their keep by GIVING me eggs, those are now MY eggs, IT owes me....", when presumably cats and dogs etc are not expected to pay such "rent".

Why the devil would you want to eat something that came out of a Hens bottom, if not for peer pressure ?  "but everyone else was doing it too!" :-)

 Its easy enough to take care of eggs by picking them up and dropping them outside, Chickens love eating their eggs, which they do naturally.  On farms, "egg thieves" are killed, for "stealing", farmers I talk with swear to one another that "IT teaches others to do it too", they naturally enjoy eating their eggs, and as they belong to the Hens, then its their decision.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueETjtbF4X8&feature=plcp&con...

Personally, I feel queasy touching their eggs now, knowing where they came from,  and when they break open, egg yolk is EXACTLY like blood, just yellow, instead of red.  The same texture, and it moves in the same way - its grosssssssss!

Curious Hen passed an obstruction a week ago, a mangled up, hard egg, which had sort of turned to rubber inside her body, her female parts.  It was hideous beyond description, I picked it up before I realised what it was, a thick, hard knotted looking rubber, some kind of deformed egg which had formed inside her!

 

i think the issue is that using any animal products - even those which we judge to be "superfluos" to there requirments - gives an exploitative message.we are placing our own species ,as ever,in a position of control an superiority over nonhumans, making choises for them about which resourses they need an which they dont,which we hav no right to do. we are acting as though we hav the ultimate say in how there lives are lived ,when in reality no animals body,or anything that comes from any animals body ,is ours to take under any circumstanses.

roger is xactly rite in pointing out how humans typicaly regard anything not made use of by them as "wasted" -the reality is hens do eat there eggs,this is natural an healthy for them.but whatever they do with them,it is not our right to blunder into a highly sophistocated an complex nonhuman society,interfering with the way nonhumans order things to our own advantage.eating eggs ,no matter how "free range" is completly unethical -it reinforses the notion of other animals as property ,serving the interests of the dominant species, an also the notion that they owe us somthing in return for caring for them .in reality,compassionate treatment an a life free from pain is the least they should expect .

anyone who eats eggs yet calls themselves a vegan is a hypocrite ,who is actualy perpetuating the myth of animals as resourses for humans by this action. taking anything from another animal,even if we dont believe the individual suffers as a result,is speciesist .

also completly agree about the "abusive environment" quote - this is a situation which implies ownership .it is treating nonhumans as slaves ,which can never be ethical or humane no matter what the circumstanses.

To be fair, I have read that in some situations, the hens lay the eggs in a nesting area and ignore them, letting them rot.  Other times, they seem to lay them in random places & never return to them.  It seems to me that in those cases, it's OK to take them.  Now, maybe if they were broken & presented to the hens, they'd learn to eat the eggs, as so many others do.  Otherwise, they could be used as Roger suggests, for rescued non-humans.  If there's an area appropriate for it, they could just be left for wildlife.  That's not a waste of resources, and it's only a speciesist mentality that allows such thinking.

So then, strictly speaking, I think that if the hens truly don't seem to care one way or another, it's morally defensible for a human to eat them.  However, you couldn't call yourself a vegan.  Also, there are better things to do with the eggs. 

btw, Kath, if you revealed that you cared for 25 rescued roosters, surely they must have realized that actually, you were "ahead" of them?  Aren't roosters a lot harder to care for?

Susan, its not a matter of "teaching" them anything, I tell you, break an egg near a Hen, BOOM, they will go for it, they fight and squabble over who gets closest to eat them.  I usually add a little rolled oats sprinkled in over their heads, this soaks in the yellow blood, sorry, yolk, making it easier for them to eat.

All I need do is take the egg from their nesting space, and they instantly "get" that its now edible.

Its a natural behaviour for birds to either a) leave their unfertilised eggs to rot or b) to eat them.  I'd feel very bad about offering them to Non Vegans, and without social pressures on us from an early age, why would we *want* to eat birds eggs? :-)

Do you have to break them, though?  Seems strange that... oh wait, does it have to do with their beaks having been mutilated?

If I pick them up out of the nesting box (they all seem to know instinctively to leave each others eggs alone, in fact, they often lay collectively in the same spot!  They dont care WHO the mother is, they just all want to be mothers), then they will all peck at the egg themselves.

As I pick it up, they leap and snap at the air, if they had arms, they'd try and paw it out of my hands, they all cluster around excitedly, they really, really like to eat eggs, as they often naturally do.

Its not trained behavior, and if they wish to eat them, then it saves me flushing them down the toilet or burying them, and then dealing with the rancid stink of rotting eggs!

"birds eggs are For The Birds" :-)

Susan Cho said:

Do you have to break them, though?  Seems strange that... oh wait, does it have to do with their beaks having been mutilated?

actually, it should be mentioned too, that "battery farms" use sloping wire mesh floors, so the eggs roll away onto the rubber conveyor belt outside, and theres an electric wire, a single strand like from an electric fence to prevent Hens from reaching their necks through the cage bars, to pull her egg back using her beak as birds naturally do.  If they see their eggs sticking out from under their feet (they sit on 10 or so at a time remember), then Mother Hen will pop it gently back using her long neck and beak, eggs roll, in that clever, defined by evolution over time circular orbit, very handy for laying in nests, on ledges etc.  The shape of an egg means it moves in a circle, it wont simply roll off any which way, theres a greater chance it will simply move to the left or right in a predictable, safer fashion, compared to a ball which could go anywhere etc.  Clever!

Jordan Wyatt said:

Susan, its not a matter of "teaching" them anything, I tell you, break an egg near a Hen, BOOM, they will go for it, they fight and squabble over who gets closest to eat them.  I usually add a little rolled oats sprinkled in over their heads, this soaks in the yellow blood, sorry, yolk, making it easier for them to eat.

All I need do is take the egg from their nesting space, and they instantly "get" that its now edible.

Its a natural behaviour for birds to either a) leave their unfertilised eggs to rot or b) to eat them.  I'd feel very bad about offering them to Non Vegans, and without social pressures on us from an early age, why would we *want* to eat birds eggs? :-)

Roger, my thoughts eggzactly! 

Jordan that's a wonderful description of how the shape of an egg keeps it safer.  I had never considered the function of an egg's shape, before.  Do you know if they tend to circulate within the nest in some advantageous way?

Thanks for the info, Sarah.  You have turkeys as well as chickens--do you run a sanctuary or something?

Please excuse the bluntness, but if you can lay the egg you can eat it, your choice.  If the hen lays the egg it's her choice.

Sandra, I just took a look at your website, and I am delighted by everything I saw there.  Your respect for animals restores their inherent dignity.  I'll refrain from gushing about your work in this thread, but rest assured that I'll be linking to your website in various forums & such.  And you can count one more person who has been touched by Matilda's life, by her joie-de-vivre!  Thank you for sharing her story w/us. 

Is your "Bill of Rights for Animals" your own creation?



Sandra Higgins said:

Yes, I run a sanctuary for farmed animals www.edenfarmanimalsanctuary.com

Hi Susan, I would guess its a benefit to each Hen that her eggs are unlikely to roll wildly away, they tend to be slow moving while sitting on their nest, remember, they sit, seemingly unblinking for a month, leaving the nest for about five minutes a day to my knowledge, to eat and drink, then panic and return.

I would think there are other advantages to egg shape, ie maybe its easier to pass through her body, but preventing eggs from rolling away from her necks reach would be the main thing that comes to mind.

While its unlikely that eggs would exactly roll away from a banked up, round bowl shaped straw/grass nest etc, it will help, and everything adds up, in terms of a Hen being able to just sit and sit and sit, rather than every small movement causing one egg to roll out the back, then one out the front, and one out the left....as she panics trying to pull them all back under her while not trampling any.

I'm not sure though! :-)

Susan Cho said:

Roger, my thoughts eggzactly! 

Jordan that's a wonderful description of how the shape of an egg keeps it safer.  I had never considered the function of an egg's shape, before.  Do you know if they tend to circulate within the nest in some advantageous way?

Thanks for the info, Sarah.  You have turkeys as well as chickens--do you run a sanctuary or something?

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