Customers Urged to Avoid Buying Large Hen Eggs

Chickens hurt a lot when they lay them

By on March 12th, 2009 11:40 GMT

Most people who buy eggs from supermarkets or other retail food stores seek to always lay their hands on ones as large as possible, in order to get a better value for their money. This ever-increasing demand for this type of products has prompted managers to offer bonuses to farms that can supply most such products. The downside of the whole deal is that the chickens laying them go to stress and pain in order to produce such large eggs. Animal welfare experts say that the solution to this problem is very simple and precisely stands in people buying medium-sized ones, and not necessarily the biggest they can find.

And that's all they would have to do, as the basic mechanisms of the market economy will take over from that point. Less demand will reduce the bonuses that the farmers get, who will then subject their animals to less torment just to satisfy those who cannot eat or buy smaller eggs. And farm owners have it that medium-sized products actually taste a lot better than their larger counterparts do.

British Free Range Producers' Association chairman Tom Vesey, who owns farms totaling some 16,000 hens, tells that it can “be painful to the hen” to produce large eggs. “There is also the stress, which is a big problem as it takes more out of hens to lay large eggs. It would be kinder to eat smaller eggs. Whenever I go to the Continent, people eat medium-sized eggs, yet here the housewife seems to be wedded to large eggs,” he underlines for The Times newspaper.

“There is no strong published evidence of pain in egg-laying hens, but it's not unreasonable to think there may be a mismatch in the size of birds and the eggs they produce. We do often spot bloodstains on large eggs. As a personal decision, I would never buy jumbo eggs,” University of Bristol professor of Animal Welfare Christine Nicol adds.

“Selectively breeding hens for high productivity, whether larger eggs or larger numbers of eggs, can cause a range of problems such as osteoporosis, bone breakage and prolapse. We need to breed and feed hens so that they can produce eggs without risk to their health or welfare,” Compassion in World Farming animal welfare expert Phil Brooke shares.

Also, market managers should consider that medium-sized eggs have a much smaller breakage risk than their larger counterparts, simply because their shell is thicker. Larger ones don't, and so more break during transport, regardless of how many precautions are taken to avoid just that.

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