Karen Davis, PhD,
United Poultry Concerns (UPC)
Recently United Poultry Concerns was asked this question on behalf of a sanctuary that was considering giving away their rescued hens’ “freely-laid eggs to certain financial supporters as a ‘personal touch,’ the thought being that the eggs are laid naturally, and by giving them to people, the hens who laid them would serve as ‘ambassadors’ for the sanctuary.”
Q. Do you endorse giving away these naturally-laid eggs, or do you feel that to do so invites people to keep using eggs, thereby deterring them from possibly adopting a vegan diet?
A. UPC does not endorse giving away eggs as an incentive for public support. While we understand the challenge of financing a sanctuary and of getting people to change to a compassionate animal-free diet, we believe it is the role of animal advocates to represent all animals as individuals of value in their own right, and not as sources of products. The chickens themselves, aided by effective advocacy, should be the ambassadors, not their eggs.
UPC would never use our sanctuary hens’ eggs to make money for our organization or to encourage people to care about chickens. Similarly, if we had a sanctuary for cows, we would not try to win favor with people by giving them free milk from our rescued cows!
The majority of farmed animal sanctuary residents have come from situations of terrible suffering and abuse. The exceptions are animals whose former caregivers could no longer keep them due to incapacity or death. A farmed animal sanctuary is a tiny island of refuge for a fraction of animals who had the luck to escape from the universe of suffering that society forces them to live in.
In addition to caring for these animals, our responsibility is to educate people to see chickens, cows and other farmed animals as whole beings. Using their eggs or milk to try to get people to care about them reinforces the perception of them as suppliers of products for humans. But hens do not lay eggs, and cows do not “give” milk, for us. The purpose of eggs and milk is to nourish these animals’ own young.
Q. Relating to your last statement, if you don’t allow your hens to hatch their eggs, which would be fertile since you also have roosters, what do you do with the eggs they lay? The eggs could be fed to other farmed animal residents, like the pigs, could they not? Are there any circumstances in which you would be OK with the use of the hens’ eggs?
A. Feeding the eggs to other animals at the sanctuary is fine in our
opinion. We hard-boil our hens’ eggs and feed them back to the chickens. Our
role is to provide a happy home for our birds, minimizing our control over
them as much as is compatible with protecting them from predators and other
preventable dangers. Our role is to educate people to understand why we do
not allow our hens to hatch chicks: First because this is a sanctuary and
not a breeding or farming operation. Second because we do not support
bringing animals into a world in which the majority are mistreated by our
species and in which millions already exist who need caring and responsible
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