I was interested to read the below article in the i paper particularly as it resonates with many of the articles I have written on the subject over the years in titles like Country Smallholding, Fancy Fowl and even the Guardian back in 2012
“Free range egg sales have reached the same level as eggs from cage-kept birds for the first time as Britons’ appetite for one of nature’s ultimate pre-packaged food reaches record levels. Data released by the UK’s £910m egg industry and the Government shows that 614m free range eggs were sold in the third quarter […] “
It puts a different perspective on the “free range” dilemma when it comes to consumers and the supply industry.
I recall some years back a reader contacting me with what is quite possibly one of the most difficult poultry posers I’ve had in a while.
The reader had been looking at the food they ate and in particular eggs as they were concerned about the production method. They had only recently learnt about the standard practice of culling millions of day old male chicks as part of the rearing of laying pullets for egg production and wanted to know of any way in which they could purchase more ethically sound eggs. As the correspondent said “if the egg production method hurts my conscience the only way is to not eat eggs but I need to know first before I make that decision”
In a nutshell if you buy eggs from a commercial supplier then you are buying into the culling of the male chicks at day one. Also just so I’m balancing it out, if you buy off gate then you could potentially be also buying into the same destruction of the males at day one if that seller is using hybrids (these are sex-linked meaning the males are removed at day one).
The only answer is to source a poultry breeder who uses a dual purpose breed and therefore making use of the male birds that he/she breeds by fattening them for the table. These people are fully utilising the livestock they are producing.