Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Guilt free breakfast

Hi Bloggers, Don't you just love opening the door in the morning, stepping outside, and filling your lungs with fresh clean air? I love these light mornings, makes me want to hop out of bed. My day seems to be starting earlier and earlier, from an 8am start in the winter, I now have an extra hour and a half a day, by getting up at 6.30am. Next week, 6am I think. For me, the mornings are the best part of the day.

Do you ever start writing a post, then change direction half way through it? I do, that's why it sometimes takes me so long to spit the words out. I had an idea in mind for today, but that has gone on hold, all because I saw something else which took my attention whilst researching on the internet.

So, back to mornings, what do you have for breakfast, I bet many of you eat eggs, boiled, scrambled, fried, or poached. I admit to a liking of scrambled eggs. Now I have always bought free range eggs. They may be a bit more expensive than eggs from battery hens, or barn hens, or God forbid hens from other countries where animal welfare is not even considered.

Thankfully battery cages have now been outlawed in this country, but that does not stop cheap eggs being imported from cages elsewhere in the world. Another type of cage has replaces the small battery cages, now we have 'Enriched cages for laying hens'. On checking these out I can't see that this system is any better. Instead of one hen having it's own small space, now they cram between 10 and 60 hens in a bit larger space. These new cages can be stacked 6 to 12 tiers high, so as far as I can see there is no improvement at all for hen welfare. Check out this web site on the new cages.
http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-enriched.html

Here are three videos for you. The first is the rescue of battery hens in their new life.


And don't be fooled into thinking eggs from barn hens are any better. Take a look at these rescued barn hens, they are just as featherless as their caged counterparts.


And another on how hens should be kept. Free ranging in a field.


The evidence is there for all to see. Please please please, buy only free range eggs. Direct from a farm or small holding is best, ask to see the hens running free. Check the boxes at the supermarket, they must say Free Range, anything else is not acceptable. They try to dress the labels up by adding the words, Grade One, or Best Eggs, or Class One, or Sunshine Eggs, or Sunny Eggs, or any other such misleading words. You don't want eggs from Poland or wherever, you want British Free Range Eggs.

Yes, I know money is tight, but think of the poor hens which are suffering. Think about opening the door in the morning to take in clean fresh air, hens deserve that too. Maybe compromise on having the best quality eggs, but perhaps not quite so often. Enjoy your guilt free breakfast.  

39 comments:

  1. Like you, I only ever buy free range, even if they are more expensive. It is one way in which I won't cut corners, because it is just not fair on the hens otherwise.

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  2. I used to keep hens and ducks for the eggs, I only ever had rescued battery girls, it took a little while for them to adjust but when they did - it was wonderful to watch them enjoying the fresh air, sunshine on their backs and being allowed to scratch for the first time. I had to go and collect them though, and it broke my heart that the ones that were left wouldn't have such a happy ending.

    The eggs were of secondary consideration to me, even though they laid very well, I had my reward just knowing I had given them a better ending to their lives than they had at the beginning.
    In my tiny garden, even now I'm considering getting one or two, I think it makes a garden complete somehow, and they contribute with manure and eating bugs. They like nothing more than to scratch around on the compost heap !
    nice post

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  3. I have kept chickens for about 5 years now and so never need to buy eggs, but if you saw my 2 chooks you would think they'd been caged all their lives! They have plucked their own feathers out so much they look almost oven ready! Maybe a run 2.5 metres x 4 metres just isn't enough room....... seriously I have tried just about everything to stop them but nothing works.
    The free range aren't always quite as good as they sound either, I have heard that often 'top-chook' takes charge of the door and some of the flock are too scared to go out 8-/ but this is the best option of you cannot keep them yourself.

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  4. And guilt free tastes so much better too! Am missing my chooks as they couldn't move house with me (they are still being well looked after!) so I am back to buying eggs for the first time in 5 years. Have some friends with chooks though so I can get my proper free range happy hens eggs! Also liking the earlier mornings and the extra daytime, although it isn't so good this week as i'm working nights!!
    Take care
    Sarah x

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  5. A brilliant post Ilona, thanks for highlighting this.

    I'm lucky in that I have my own hens (17 at present) so we have all the eggs we need and sell the surplus to friends and colleagues.

    I started my chicken keeping days with rescue free-rangers, yes they still need rescuing as they are routinely slaughtered after a laying life of 13 months. But if you have to buy eggs and millions of folks do.....as Ilona says.....please go for Free Range EVERY time.

    Sue xx

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  6. I only buy organic eggs as they get a tad more space than the free rangers have to have. I don't think saving a few pence is more important than animal welfare. I like to check codes on eggs too to make sure it is stamped organic and you can also find out which farm it came from too.

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  7. The sunshine (on the days when we have it) and the birds are waking me up at 5am. That means I'm soooo tired in the evenings that I feel my day is shorter. Maybe thicker curtains are in order.

    I have my own hens too and love the eggs we get.

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  8. I'm lucky enough to be able to buy eggs from my friends hens, who not only run free but have only organic food. I'm planning to keep my own chooks soon.

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  9. Free range for me too. I only buy free range chickens too. I would rather do without if I couldn't afford FR. Thanks for your post.

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  10. I'm vegan so no eggs at all. There is no such thing in Canada as free range eggs...far too cold for chickens to be roaming outside in the winter. There are eggs that state "free range" on the box but a vet friend told us this was nonsense. The small area in Canada where chickens could be free ranged could never supply the whole of the country.
    Jane x

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  11. Just a note in response to some of the comments: I think the definitions for "free-range," "uncaged," and even "organic" (as in what can be printed on the carton, in advertizing, etc.) vary from place to place, so a little research is always a good idea when we're trying to "do the right thing."
    I'm fortunate in that I raise my own laying hens who have a pretty wonderful lifestyle and produce lovely organic eggs. In summer I barter some of the eggs for fresh organic veg, etc., and my friends are always happy to enjoy the "extras" :)

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  12. This is a band wagon I didn't expect you to jump on Ilona, Why the sudden interest in hen welfare?

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  13. Thank you for raising this issue - I have seen a few frugal blogs being cruelty-farm apologists by claiming that free-range is no better, or that they can't afford a more humane option, and how their hubby/children/dog etc "deserve" a bit of meat now and then. My response to such nonsense is this: if you can't afford free-range, and can only buy products which are cheap because it's cruel to animals, then DON'T BUY IT!

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  14. I agree with you. I would rather have less food than buy cheaper food when the animal has a poorer quality of life. I get my OH free range chicken when we can afford it and he really appreciates it.

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  15. How rude of "anonymous"! I believe people should be able to write about whatever they darn well fancy on their blogs! Thank you for raising people's awareness of the issue, Ilona. I know a fair few people who don't understand the difference between free range and other, less humane, ways of keeping hens.

    My old primary school now has ex-battery hens. My mum worked there when they arrived and she was shocked at their terrible condition. They really are featherless and their feet were very unhealthy-looking. They recover surprisingly well though, when treated properly.

    Honestly, we are supposed to be an animal-loving nation, yet we treat our farm animals so badly. I live in rural Cornwall, and I live near a lot of very kind farmers with well looked after animals, but even so there are a lot of things wrong with the system in general.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, P.S. I usually start work at 5am (I used to be such a late riser too!), but it's starting to get light now even then!! Might be a bit later up country, but I think soon I might even be able to drive to work in the light!

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  16. Well, being "the other Anonymous" who has strong support (and the one who posted the 16:41 post) for ethical, free-range products, I just want to say that the cruelty-farm apologist frugal blogs I mentioned - in particular a very popular one - actually had Bible citation in the front page of her page. Show me a passage in the Bible which says cruelty to animals are pardonable, and I will show you an ethical hypocrite.

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  17. Excellent post, Ilona. Couldn't agree more. If you can't afford British free range, then don't buy any. Have seen chickens myself when they come out of those sheds - can't understand any one who would think those condotions acceptable just to lower the price of their eggs.

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  18. Too right - when I was made redundant 3 years ago one of the best things we did with my redundancy money was get the garden chicken-proofed and buy a henhouse and all the kit needed to keep three fat, daft little chooks of our own. We have enough to eat as many eggs as we like, and provide regular half-dozens to convince hubby's colleagues that free range eggs taste better than shop-bought battery/intensively farmed eggs.

    Just want to say while I'm here that I've been lurking for a while and love reading your posts and looking at the photos you post - truly inspirational :o)

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  19. Great post. We have eaten British free range eggs for years, before many people were aware of the issues involved. It's one of the things I can't compromise on.

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  20. I admire you for spending the extra money for the free range eggs. I became vegan and cook all my food from scratch because here in the U.S. I don't know anymore where the food is coming from or what may be in it. That makes some things more expensive but other things, like beans, are less expensive. Good post Ilona, thanks!

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  21. Eggsellent post Meanqueen. We have our own hens so we know exactly where our eggs come from as there is just no excuse for buying eggs from caged hens. They're wonderful characters to have in the garden and provide entertainment as well as eggs. There are many organisations that help with rehoming battery hens.

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  22. The other anonymous (9th May 16:28) should get a life. If they are not interested in the topic, then just go and read something else.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention Ilona, free range organic for me from now on, I have sometimes been guilty of going for the cheaper option, not any more.

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    1. The Other anonymous (9th May 16:28) has a very valid point. Thrift does not mean Cruelty at any cost which is what Meanqueen is stating.

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  23. I buy free range but when I can get there, I get them from a little farm where they're running around on the lawn near the house and trying to get into the kitchen. They leave eggs, potatoes, carrots, and other basic veg in a little building with scales and a money pot. It's in the country so no 'Youfs' around and I don't think they've had any problems with pinching. It's mainly regular customers.

    We can't have hens here as it is written into the deeds but I would love a couple.

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  24. I buy eggs from http://www.rent-a-hen.co.uk/

    They are free range and are a day old when they are delivered to my door.

    I do agree with you that there doesn't seem to be much difference in the new battery cages, even though the farmers had to spend a great deal of money to effect the changes. Apparently, if there are no battery eggs, a lot of Britain would have to go without. I'm glad you have made this post.

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    1. Ah! From the lovely Anita and John! ;-)

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  25. I would adore to have the moral high ground, agree free range ethically better but living in poverty with 3 children, i have no choice my children come first.sorry.every penny is food or heat or clothes from boot sales trying so hard to balance books, do not want my children to be unhealthy or looked down on. hard. Can give morals yes but is so hard making and mending so children dressed like friends and have food.

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  26. I am entitled to free school meals for my three, but meal tickets are given out in class, will not let mine be labeled.so inventive . tesco own label orange juice put in pretty little containers. bread bought at 7pm 20p.whole non free range chicken or ham at 7pm £1.00. fruit like pineapple chopped in to litle bits , cheap raisins put in to tiny pots.excitement is when get raspberries or strawberries for 20p too survival.

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  27. Great blog post Ilona, on one of my favourite talking subjects too..hens :o)

    As you know I keep hens and am overflowing with eggs these days, we keep giving them away to neighbours.

    Samanthas post did make me think. Although there is no way we are well off, I don't ever remember a time when things were THAT hard for me, even when I was a single parent after my first marriage broke up. I would only be too happy to give you free eggs Samantha..more than you could ever eat too!! Could you not have a word with the school about the free school meal tickets? I know there was a stigma about free school meals when I was at secondary school (although I never got free meals myself). My daughter is actually jealous of here friends that get a free school meal!!!

    It was great to see the videos Ilona, I watched each one all the way through. There is a hen rehoming local to me in a few weeks time...they are free range organic hens...will be interesting to see what they look like after getting used to seeing ex battery hens!

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  28. Samantha,
    You are a hero! You are brave! You are a good mother!

    Your job is to do the best you can with what little you have. YOU DO!

    Can you grow anything where you live? If not, or you cannot do more, I am not criticizing.

    You are on a high moral ground in my estimation.

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  29. Free range is meaningless. It could mean a small door left open for 20 min or three hours each day in a chicken house with 10,000 hens. Hens are timid so few will venture out to the bare dirt, gravel, or concrete outside the door. Organic is meaningless in the poultry industry. Chicken feathers and ill chickens are organic and might be in the feed.

    My three hens must be confined at times for their safety. They get anywhere from 3 hours to 24 hours out in the grass. Three hours out o the pen is when it is storming. I don't want to be hit by lightning or a tree. In reality, they would not want to be out either and would retreat to the dry pen area. A 24 hour stint outdoors would be when I forget to close the pen door against predators!

    They never get commercial feed, just what I give them--produce, meat, oats from the kitchen. Plus, the get their own bugs and grass.

    Oh, I loved the "snip, snip" sound the hens in the film made when eating grass. It make me happy to hear mind do the same.

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  30. Kate G,
    Hens pick thier own feathers when they need protein, when stressed, and other reasons. My hens have never done a full moult. They just look ragged all the time because it seems they just moult a bit all along and keep laying eggs regularly while moulting. I kept waiting for them to be naked.

    Sorry for so many comments.

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  31. Thanks for writing this post. I completely agree and have no problem paying a little more knowing that my eggs come from a good farm.

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  32. Thank you practical parsimony and sharonk, crying doing the best i can with what i have got.

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  33. SharonK ask you,re daughter how she would feel if she was in reciept of free meal at school and everyone was aware different story.

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  34. 'In the country' doesn't always mean people are honest. I have plenty of customers for any spare eggs, but used to put spare plums and apples on a tea-trolley on the verge, with honest box IAO Oxfam.
    Sometimes got really good donations.
    Then someone took the (bent, wheel-less, decepit) trolley!
    garden hens are such characters.

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  35. Hi Ilona

    I have been reading your blog for a while and after reading this post you have inspired me to buy free range eggs. I used to buy only free range then went back to the caged ones because they are cheaper but now I think its not worth it so I've decided I'm just going to get the free range ones even if it means getting them less often like you suggested.

    Emma

    P.S I am very sorry to hear about Lily

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  36. Hi Ilona, I always buy free range eggs, never buy any other type. Always careful to check the label to make sure they are free range too. I remember when we were kids you would often get double yolkers, not seen one of them in a long time. We received eggs once from a friend who let his hens scratch about down on the beach near his house. The yolks were bright yellow, maybe with all the seaweed. Cheers for now, Christy.

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