The Boys of the Egg Industry
By Ryan Hill, Cofounder of The Sky’s The Limit Sanctuary
Presented at Seattle, Washington’s 2019 National Animal Rights Day in June.
Reprinted and edited by United Poultry Concerns with permission from All-Creatures.UPC Photo by Davida G. Breier
We often think about the hens in the egg industry – of battery cages where hens are confined, cramped, covered in feces, suffering from infections and reproductive diseases, unable to stretch their wings or even to take a single step in their entire life. But how often do we consider the boys of the egg industry, including the backyard arm of this industry? Whether male chicks are ground up alive or suffocated to death in trash bags or shipped across the country as “warmers” – packaging material – for hens being airmailed to backyard chicken keepers, these victims are often forgotten. Why?
Roosters are born into this world unwanted and even hated by many, who want only hens for eggs. If they are spared the macerator at birth, they are often discovered three months later to be roosters by people who cannot or will not keep them due to sexist and speciesist laws that prohibit roosters within the majority of homes in the United States. Even if the laws allow you to have roosters, truculent neighbors can cause them to become homeless due to subjective and discriminatory noise ordinances that allow barking and lawn-care machinery, but not crowing.
Once a rooster is discovered, he has only a few options:
He may be slaughtered and become his owner’s dinner.
He may be slaughtered and become pet food.
He may be abandoned in parks or wilderness.
He may purposely be fed to captive animals.
If he is extremely lucky, he may find a home with someone who will love him.
The overpopulation of roosters, created by the egg industry, has become a crisis across the country. The biggest hurdle is that there are so few homes for them and so many are abandoned. And while their means of communication may not be the same as those of a furry mammal, their feelings are just as real. They feel loss. They feel pain. They feel love and trust.
Imagine being so marginalized by society that the very sound of your voice incites anger in 90% of the people around you. Imagine that all of the misconceptions about your personality are manifested in being ostracized and abandoned. Imagine that people fear you because you are trying to protect your family who continues to be taken away from you and abused right in front of you.
Due to the sheer numbers of these beautiful beings in the world, and the many ways we harm them, chickens are the most abused, exploited, and tortured land animals on the planet. Not only by the egg industry and the chicken meat industry and the cockfighting industry, but as Easter gifts and classroom hatching project “lessons” for school children.
For all of these reasons, there can never be a “humane” egg. Until you’ve held in your arms a hen dying from a reproductive disease and watched her take her last breath, or caught a stray rooster – or several roosters dumped to fend for themselves, or turned away dozens of roosters in need, or seen firsthand the way thoughtless people treat and talk about these innocent birds, you cannot truly understand the harm eggs really cause.
If you are guided by compassion, PLEASE for the love of all the forgotten roosters: SPEAK UP. Give roosters, whose glorious voices have brought grief to their lives and their families, a voice. If you can give one or more roosters a permanent loving home, please do.