Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:35 pm Post subject: Where can I find "ethical" eggs?
Does anyone know where I can find eggs from cage-free, vegetarian-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free hens that did not come from layer "factories"? In other words, a place where the hens are either hatched on site or rescued from factory farms? I have been vegan for fifteen years, but my doctor is concerned I'm not getting enough protein, and I have soy and wheat sensitivity issues, so I was hoping to find some "ethical" eggs. Please help if you can, thanks! (I live in Marin County, in the North Bay.)
First of all, I would get a second opinion on your health before eating eggs or anything else that comes from an animal. Jack Norris of Vegan Outreach may be able to offer you some advice: http://www.veganhealth.org/
Some years ago, before I was vegan, I too was interested in finding "ethical" eggs. I got in touch with Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns (http://www.upc-online.org/), and after some correspondence with her I decided eating eggs was not in anyone's best interest.
Joined: 15 Nov 2007 Posts: 1 Location: San Francisco
Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:46 am Post subject:
First of all, I agree with Mark in that you should ask another doctor about getting enough protein. There are many different foods you can eat that can give you plenty of protein. Maybe you should visit a vegan nutritionist and get expert advice.
As for getting good eggs, if you feel you must eat them, I would see a farm for yourself, have a talk with the farmer, and get your eggs from them.
Although I am a vegan, I encountered this farm, which I think treats its chickens in the best way possible for an egg farm. The chickens are fed organic vegetarian feed (may be vegan), they are given medical attention, they are enclosed in a chicken run with a lot of room to engage in natural behaviors but are still protected by preditors, they are not forced to produce eggs, they are all rescue chickens, they are allowed to live until they naturally die, and thye all have names!
Joined: 06 Dec 2002 Posts: 1162 Location: San Mateo coastside
Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:11 pm Post subject:
I asked Kim who runs a non-profit sanctuary and education center in Vacaville for rescued and abused animals, what they do with the eggs from their chickens at the last tour Bay Area Veg had. I can't remember precisely what she said, but the gist was that they take the eggs and mix it back into the chickens feed so that the chickens gain back the nutrition from their eggs, since the rescue chickens are usually malnourished from having been in the intensive factory farms.
Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:13 pm Post subject: Caring for rescued battery cage hens
Some people do add cooked eggs to chicken feed, and it has been shown in some cases to boost immunity; however, it can have an undesired effect: increasing egg production. For vegans who rescue chickens, it might be better to feed eggs to your dogs and cats or give then to people who buy battery cage eggs. As stated in the Bird Flu Book, egg production has an inverse relationship with immunity in hens.
I've interviewed scores of poultry and avian vets, and sent birds who die to our state lab for necropsy, in an attempt to determine the best way to care for my battery cage hens. I've also tried various treatments on my own birds. After about 7 years experience with it, this is what I've discovered. I thought that maybe some people with rescued battery cage hens might benefit from what I've learned.
It's of utmost importance to ensure that these rescued hens lay hard-shelled eggs, and make sure they take a break in the winter. If they don't take a break in the winter, or lay soft-shelled eggs, they will die. This is what I do for battery cage hens (not my heirloom breeds, as they have different needs):
- Feed an organic, low-soy layer feed. (I avoid soy because I suspect that the estrogenic activity could potentially be a problem for them. Although, I don't know for sure.)
- Make sure a calcium supplement is available free-choice at all times. Feeding back eggshells is not sufficient, as calcium can be poorly absorbed.
- Very important: supplement their diet with vitamin D3 and extra B vitamins, like biotin. The D3 helps them keep producing hard shells as they get older, and their need for vitamins also increases as they mature. I use a product called Avian Super Vitapak and add it to their water a few days a week.
- Feed lots of fresh, organic produce. It's good for them, just like it is for you.
- In the fall, cut the protein they consume to get them to molt. If they don't molt in the winter and stop laying eggs, they will die. I start mixing organic rolled grains with the layer feed, and continue to provide calcium supplements until they stop laying eggs, until they're eating mostly rolled grain. I feed a diet of primarily rolled grains, with a bit of layer feed, for about a month. Then I switch back to layer feed. Also feed lots of fresh produce. (I never feed chicken scratch with uncracked grains, as it causes impacted crop in a certain portion of the birds, which will kill them if untreated.) While the decreasing daylength should get them to stop laying eggs on their own (and it does for heirloom chicken breeds), these hens have been bred to be egg machines and they might not stop without help.
- Make sure they don't have extra light shining on them at night. You do not want to increase the natural daylength, as that can keep them laying and research has shown that it reliably causes reproductive cancer, the number 1 cause of death in "older" hens 2+ years old. (Note that although I had some reproductive cancer in my flocks many, many years ago, I haven't had a case since, now that I feed them organic low-soy feed, lots of organic produce, and make sure there isn't an outdoor light shining on them.)
- Keep them free of parasites, which will weaken them. Battery cage hens often have coccidia and tapeworms. Also keep them free of blood-sucking lice and mites.
It's also important to prevent E. Coli infections in their reproductive tracts. Because they were kept in filthy conditions, and E. Coli is a natural component of the digestive tract in chickens, they are very susceptible to infections with this pathogen. This pathogen does not often infect chickens kept in good conditions, but only attacks birds who have been weakened. I've never had a reproductive E. Coli infection any other chicken but battery cage hens! (Note that E. Coli is everywhere -- and the kind of E. Coli that hens carry is not the same kind that infected spinach and other produce; that E. Coli is often from cows fed grains instead of being put on pasture.) This is what I do:
- Keep their nestboxes extremely clean. You should replace soiled bedding, like pine shavings or rice hulls, daily. Completely replace the bedding every week. If they lay an egg and the reproductive tract touches filth, it can enter the reproductive tract.
- Feed lactobacillus cultures. Yogurt is very good for them. For vegans, you can buy vegan cultures to add to their water, and even spray it on their bedding and in the run for odor control. These cultures compete with E. Coli for digestive tract space and help prevent it from over-running the digestive system. They also improve the immune system, and this technique is popular in Asian countries for keeping chickens healthy.
I rarely have problems with prolapse in my birds, but that's because I feed oily seeds. My feed contains flax, but you can also feed black-oil sunflower seeds to help. It can also prevent eggs from getting stuck inside them, as they will tend to lay larger eggs as they mature. You can try reducing the protein content of the layer feed to reduce egg size. It sometimes works. But I don't find it necessary.
Some people attempt to get the hens to stop laying entirely by feeding low protein feed all year. I don't, because hens are born with a certain number of eggs inside them at birth, and it's better for their health to lay them when they're young than when they're older.
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