Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Know Your Eggs

We continue to get several eggs a day, and with the gift of these delicious eggs from our lucky hens comes an increasing awareness of the misery being perpetrated upon 16 million chickens in battery farms around the UK right now. With the space of only one A4 sheet of paper per battery hen, these girls are only allowed four hours rest a night before the artificial lights are turned back on to encourage extra egg laying. Without room to even stretch their wings, a wire cage floor to stand on, nowhere private to lay their eggs, no perches to roost on at night, the frustration and boredom these hens suffer can cause them to become aggressive and peck out their companions feathers. When the hens reach the age of about 18 months they are considered ‘spent’ as their laying capacity slowly decreases (a healthy hen can live up to the age of 8), and they are taken from their cages where they were placed as chicks and go directly to the slaughter house in tiny crates to be turned into pet food.

Now I daresay I am preaching to the converted and that you already diligently buy your free range eggs and have done for years, but unfortunately those eggs are just a fraction of the problem. It is the convenience foods that we fill our shopping trolleys with that contain the battery eggs that are supporting this vile industry. You will find below a list of just some of the foods that contain battery hen eggs that you may have been inadvertently buying (just like I have) and may now like to stop supporting. The general rule is that unless it specifically says ‘free range egg’ on the ingredients then you can be pretty sure it is a battery hen egg in the food you are about to buy. Right, I shall dismount from my very high horse now and allow you to peruse the list. To remind you of how happy hens should live, I have inserted a few recent pictures of my ex battery girls who are becoming more beautiful by the day. First up is the promised picture of hens sun bathing, featuring to the right Two Tone who is lapping up the warmth:

Convenience Foods Often Containing Battery Eggs:

Cakes/Sweet Snacks:
Almond Slice
Bakewell Tart
Birthday Cakes 
Cream Cakes
Cup Cakes
Danish Pastries
Egg Custard Tarts
Fairy Cakes
Gingerbread Men/Cookies
Ginger Cake
Orange flavour chewy biscuits
Mini Rolls
Victoria Sponge
Many marshmallow type biscuits

Apple Crumble
Apple Pie
Arctic Roll
Bread and Butter Pudding
Cheese Cake
Some luxury ice creams
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Tart
Diet Rice Pudding
Spotted Dick
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Swiss Roll

Ready Meals/Savoury Snacks:
Breaded Prawns
Cheese and Onion Rolls/Slice
Cornish Pasties
Egg Noodles
Fresh Pasta
Biscuits for Cheese
Mayonnaise (not Helmans)
Quiche (any type)
Salad Cream
Sausage Rolls
Scotch Eggs/Savoury Eggs
Steak Pie

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


At last, the girls are free. Their release date was brought forward two weeks owing to a combination of factors, the biggest of which is that I bought a new coop and run for them and was then mortified at how small the new pen looked in comparison to their old one. Despite the description for the coop and run as “suitable for up to eight chickens” (not unless you want to keep them with precious little more space than battery hens) I couldn’t bear seeing them squashed together so decided it was time for them to mix with the rest of the flock.
The Cockerel was even more delighted than my hens by their new found freedom and appears to have acquired a new lease of life flirting and indeed, mating with the new members of his harem. I had been given dire warnings about how he could break the back of a weak ex battery hen, yet other  than the loss of a few feathers mine don’t seem too phased by his ministrations. In fact the whole thing is over so fast I can hardly believe that the deed has in fact been done at all. He spies a hen he fancies, shimmies up to her quite literally shaking his tail feathers and arching his neck while the hen in question looks on disdainfully. With his little performance of impending virility over he jumps on to her back, grabs some neck feathers with his beak (to cling on I suppose) and thrusts a few times in the direction of my hens bottom. Meanwhile my poor hen has flattened herself against the grass and looks somewhat shocked and then relieved when the ordeal is over several seconds later. With a good shake she struts off in search of worms, which from the looks of it is a far more satisfying endeavour than the one she just endured.
The girls are, of course, absolutely loving their new space and I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from watching them scratching around in the dirt, taking dust baths, sun bathing (yes, hens do sunbathe and I will get a picture to prove it) and flapping and stretching their wings. I never realised that a chicken could have such engaging personalities. One in particular, Mrs Tufty, has become incredibly tame and follows me about waiting for treats or cuddles. Because it is so easy to pick her up she gets singled out for special treatment and accompanies me to my vegetable garden to help me do some digging. Well, really she just waits for me to dig then leaps in to peck up the worms and insects that get unearthed, but it feels like she is helping me.
I am still battling red mite, the lovely chicken coop I bought leaks in three places, Feathers has a cough and I can see vets bills looming, Two Tone looks like she might be developing ‘scaly leg’ (another common chicken disease but probably caught from the cockerel who looks like he has it) and the other hens keep laying in my coop so we don’t know whose eggs are whose. Despite all these problems, watching Mrs Tufty trip daintily through the tomato plants and runner beans with the sun dappled on her feathers makes all the work involved worth it, not to mention the incredibly delicious eggs we now get to eat every day.

Here is the latest clip we took of our girls out enjoying their new enclosure: