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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I've finally been cured of my desire to go into the "less harm" egg business. Though I think such things can possibly exist, I've learned I just don't have a hard enough heart for it, to raise the number of birds it would require to make a business of it, and take responsibility for their lives and deaths. I bought 50 day old chicks during the summer, to add to my existing flocks. I bought "straight run" chicks, who are just as they hatch, without being sexed, so you get about 50% each males and females. I felt it was the most responsible thing, instead of letting the hatchery grind up the males. Which means I have about 25 new roosters in addition to my previous 10, six of which are designated pets. I can't keep 35 roosters. It's very hard having just six roosters crowing all day.<br><br><br><br>
These chicks have had many problems, seemingly being cursed. They got badly stressed during a heat-wave, and went into a frenzy of cannibalism, from which they have never recovered. Last week two were killed and partially eaten by the others for no apparent reason and today I had to separate four from the others because they were being picked. One had a large hole picked through the back of her neck, which I had to stitch up. She might survive this, maybe not. Those who were the worst picked are stunted in growth.<br><br><br><br>
I just can't handle this amount of carnage, so, I'm throwing in the towel. It's unfortunate, because I think there is a place for "less harm" eggs in our society. But I won't be able to fill it. I'll probably sell a few eggs from these hens, but I won't be adding more to get up to a commercial number, these will have to stay as pets or "hobby farming."<br><br><br><br>
I think people need to know how hard it is to raise eggs that are "humane" or less harm. It's very very difficult and those eggs should be very expensive.<br><br><br><br>
I think pet chickens, either rescued or from loving homes, are another thing altogether and can probably provide humane eggs. Just keep in mind that chickens can live eight years, and only produce eggs regularly for about two or three years. This is a serious commitment of your time.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Ludi</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I bought "straight run" chicks, who are just as they hatch, without being sexed, so you get about 50% each males and females. I felt it was the most responsible thing, instead of letting the hatchery grind up the males. Which means I have about 25 new roosters in addition to my previous 10, six of which are designated pets. I can't keep 35 roosters. It's very hard having just six roosters crowing all day.<br><br><br><br>
These chicks have had many problems, seemingly being cursed. They got badly stressed during a heat-wave, and went into a frenzy of cannibalism, from which they have never recovered. Last week two were killed and partially eaten by the others for no apparent reason and today I had to separate four from the others because they were being picked. One had a large hole picked through the back of her neck, which I had to stitch up. She might survive this, maybe not. Those who were the worst picked are stunted in growth.<br><br><br><br>
I just can't handle this amount of carnage, so, I'm throwing in the towel. It's unfortunate, because I think there is a place for "less harm" eggs in our society. But I won't be able to fill it. I'll probably sell a few eggs from these hens, but I won't be adding more to get up to a commercial number, these will have to stay as pets or "hobby farming."<br><br><br><br>
I think people need to know how hard it is to raise eggs that are "humane" or less harm. It's very very difficult and those eggs should be very expensive...</div>
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UGH. I'm sorry it isn't working out for you. I assume most (well, maybe almost all) eggs are produced under horribly cruel conditions, and your heart was in the right place to try to do something about it... but I don't think I would be able to pull it off either.<br><br><br><br>
Do roosters stop crowing if they're "fixed"? (I think it's possible to do that... I'm no expert on chickens, but I thought that was the definition of a capon. Maybe I'm mistaken.) I wonder if there's anyone who would want to adopt some of the roosters?
 

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I've heard that it's very, very difficult to raise chickens for eggs. I have some relatives in Texas that tried to start a chicken ranch and failed miserably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've only been able to place one rooster in a new home (he was my pet Buffy, who was subsequently killed by a raccoon because the new owner failed to close the door on his pen at night).<br><br><br><br>
Roosters can be neutered by an invasive surgical procedure. Their testes are inside the body cavity, up under the ribs near the back. This surgery, called "caponising" is sometimes done to make them gain weight faster, and it is done without anesthesia.
 

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Wow, thanks for posting that. I always thought from things I've heard here and there that chickens were really easy to raise, so I always wondered why there couldn't be more humane conditions for them.<br><br><br><br>
I'm curious now though, what do you think about some of the companies and brands that produce organic, natural, ect. eggs? Do you think the claims of the "peaceful and happy life" for the chickens is true, or more marketing and not really possible?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think chickens can be relatively easy to raise if you only have a very small number of them, and other conditions are ideal. For instance, in my case, I did not have the new pen ready for them when we got temperatures over 100 degrees F. I knew they needed to be moved to the larger, airier pen, but I was not able to get it finished in time, I was <i>one</i> day late and that made a permanent difference in the chicks' lives. They became overcrowded and overheated, and reacted to this stress in the way chickens do - they attacked each other. This is why factory chickens are "debeaked" (have their beaks clipped/cauterized), because they are continually under stress, they would pick each other to express their distress. Chickens behave in certain ways, one of these is picking, a reaction to stress, crowding, or in reaction to an unfamiliar chicken, who the others will kill. They are in some ways violent animals, in other ways very peaceful. They are individuals also, each with their own personality which one comes to know the longer one is around them, especially in small numbers. Beyond a dozen or so, it's hard to relate to them as individuals and here is where care and attention can suffer. They are amazingly tough, and can have a mortal wound without showing any outward suffering. I had no idea the little chick had a gaping wound in the back of her neck until my husband noticed some discoloration there, it was mostly covered by feathers. But she was bopping around with the others like she was fine. I think she will be ok if she can fight off infection a little longer, the stitched-up wound looks like it's growing back together. But she will probably always be very small.<br><br><br><br>
I think chickens can be raised in humane conditions, but this will eat into profits.. Most chicken farmers are commodity contract farmers who raise chickens for large firms. The growers go deeply into debt to build the chicken house, and only by cutting corners can they end up making any kind of profit. It's a losing game eventually, both the chickens and the contract farmers lose, only the big corporation wins. Certainly the consumer loses. I posted another thread in this forum about more humane animal farming models, which I think could work. But the chickens can't be a commodity, they need to be working as part of a larger integrated food growing method, such as permaculture or Anna Edey's Solviva farming, in which chickens help keep a greenhouse warm and make compost. Their eggs are sold as a byproduct and they are never killed, they get to die of old age under pleasant conditions - a nice house to live in during the winter and a large field to run in during the summer. But the roosters are still killed, so it is not totally humane. I don't know how anyone could raise chickens except strictly as pets, not as a business, in a way that is truly humane. Even in a natural setting, a chicken's life is not humane - the sex ratio is 50 - 50 as they hatch, but the ideal ratio is about six (or more) hens per rooster. In nature, excess roosters are driven away or killed by the dominant rooster. They may form bachelor flocks, but they don't have access to hens. If you try to keep more roosters than about one per five or six hens, the hens suffer because the rooster wants to mount them frequently for mating. If the hen can't escape him, she may have the protective feathers worn off her sides and he may slash her open with his claws (not on purpose). This can kill the hen.<br><br><br><br>
So I think almost all claims of a "peaceful and natural" life for commercial chickens are lying at worst, stretching the truth at best. I think it's unlikely any commercial brand of egg that claims to be humane actually is, with the amount of individual care these birds require. I think it would be very difficult to raise them in large enough numbers to be profitable and still care enough about them as individuals to give them that degree of attention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I should add that anyone who goes into raising chickens, even as pets, should be prepared for true horror. I don't know of anyone who has raised chickens (at least in the country) who hasn't experienced awful attacks from predators. I won't describe what rats and raccoons will do to chickens, it doesn't bear repeating. If you want to raise them, you need to be extremely careful to make sure the pen is absolutely predator proof. And even then you can have individual chickens who are just mean and pick the others, sometimes to death if you happen not to be home the day they decide to attack. Submissive chickens don't know how to communicate the idea of "stop" and so will allow the other chickens to pick them to death, without fighting back in the least. It's utterly heartbreaking when this happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm just oging on and on here - I also couldn't justify raising chickens commercially which would require feeding large quantities of corn, a crop which is extremely damaging to the land, and which I can't raise myself. There was just no way I could square raising large numbers of chickens with my environmental ideals. I'll still feed them corn, their favorite food, but eventually I think I would rather only have as many as I can feed from food I grow them here, leftover vegetables and fruits, and the insects they catch for themselves.
 

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Wow! You are a wealth of chicken knowledge!<br><br><br><br>
Thanks for all the info! Now I know why my cousins in Texas had such a hard time of it.
 

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I'm sorry to hear your chickens didn't do well and that you won't be able to provide humanely-raised chicken's eggs. Anything to move consumers away from purchasing as many battery-raised chicken's eggs would be great. But you're right that it sounds like it's a lot more work that anyone would imagine. Your thread has been very informative for me. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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I agree that this has been very informative, so thank you for that.<br><br><br><br>
Also, your original intention of getting the male chicks to save them from a gruesome death was very compassionate and honorable and I commend you for that.
 

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I'm glad you went on and on, lol, because it's really nice to get a detailed, first-hand account of how hard it is to raise chickens. I'm not vegan, I eat a small amount of dairy, but I kinda always thought eggs were okay. Not conventional, but either local or organic. Now though, especially in regards to the the amount of feed you mentioned and the environmental impact of it, it doesn't seem that eggs are as benign as I thought. The only things I ever use eggs for is baking, but I'm going to see if I can change my recipes to work without eggs.<br><br><br><br>
I really do like hearing the truth about it, because the sugar coating of the industry from organic egg producers seems insulting now that I know a bit more about what the actual conditions of it are.
 

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thanks for the very informative post. i always hear about homegrown egg farms and such, and how they are supposedly humane, and it seems that cruelty has to be involved to make it worthwhile.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DreamWavez</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I'm glad you went on and on, lol, because it's really nice to get a detailed, first-hand account of how hard it is to raise chickens. I'm not vegan, I eat a small amount of dairy, but I kinda always thought eggs were okay. Not conventional, but either local or organic. Now though, especially in regards to the the amount of feed you mentioned and the environmental impact of it, it doesn't seem that eggs are as benign as I thought. The only things I ever use eggs for is baking, but I'm going to see if I can change my recipes to work without eggs.<br><br><br><br>
I really do like hearing the truth about it, because the sugar coating of the industry from organic egg producers seems insulting now that I know a bit more about what the actual conditions of it are.</div>
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<br><br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=96" target="_blank">http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=96</a><br><br><br><br>
eggs are supposedly one of the cruelest 'foods' around. the label 'organic' has nothing to do with 'humane' treatment either - it just has to do with feed.<br><br><br><br>
replacing eggs in baking changes nothing about the taste - you can make all sorts of delicious treats with no eggs at all, and you'd never know the difference! good luck with your new and improved recipes.
 

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wow.<br><br>
I once thought I would keep chickens when I grew up.<br><br>
Now I don't think I'll bother<br><br><br><br>
This has been very informative. Thanks, Ludi. And I admire you for making such an attempt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you, isowich. Like I say, I think pet chickens are fine, rasing them for eggs is another thing. Chickens can be very affectionate and personable in their own way. But they can also be loud and stinky.
 
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