Response to Activist Video

This blog post is one I was hoping not to have to write. In Canada, there was recently an “investigative report” on the commercial egg industry. It developed after an animal activist group took undercover footage and passed an edited video to a television newsmagazine. The resulting 30 minute show was a black eye to the professional farmers, and has caused a stir in the public. I am disappointed in the response from the industry groups to address this attack, so I am writing this blog post in hopes of doing my part. This commentary does not represent any organization, and is entirely my own opinion.

First, let me point out some of the issues that are at play in animal activist videos in general.

1) Modern farms are large. This is daunting to most non-agricultural people. Looking at a barn with 10,000 chickens is as alien to you as me looking at an auto assembly plant, or a brewery, or a company that makes computer components. The shock of seeing the alien environment is leveraged by insinuating that it is impossible to care for large groups of hens. The fact is, there are basically as many laying hens in Canada as there are people. The farms are large because so many people live in cities and towns and don’t have time or interest in raising their own food. 30 Million chickens have to live somewhere in Canada if we want to continue to eat eggs the way we do now. Interestingly, the average flock size in Canada is smaller than anywhere else in the developed world….in the US, farms are between 50 and 100 times as large.

2) Activist videos are not what they seem. No, I’m not saying they fake them (although that has happened in some cases). What you need to realize is that the activist takes video for 4-5 months, then edits the video into the worst possible 15 minutes possible. The mandate of animal activists is to stop the use of animals…..all animals. They aren’t interested in showing the truth….if false representation helps them stop a process they see as immoral, that is very acceptable to them. Think about what this means. Imagine someone secretly taping you interacting with your kids or coworkers for months, and then trying to make you look bad. Imagine going through 4 months of footage of baseball games, and clipping out batters getting hit, hard slides, collisions at the plate, then make a 15 minute video of how baseball should be stopped because it is too violent. If the people watching were from the interior of China where people are unfamiliar with baseball, what would their opinion of the sport be?

3) Farmers (and unfortunately, farmer organizations) are petrified to make mistakes in public. If you say something incorrectly and it is misinterpreted at a party, somebody might think you are an ass. Make a clumsy remark to a “gotcha” reporter, and you make an entire farming community look bad. Nobody wants to be the face on TV that makes everyone look bad (it’s interesting that the activists almost never show his/her face on the videos either). Unfortunately, the implication is that the farmers have something to hide, further shaking public confidence (oddly, it is seen as protecting the activist’s identity).

4) The “alternative” methods are always shown as a Walt Disney film. We need to house 30 million hens in Canada. If everyone doesn’t want to house 2 hens on their apartment balcony, we need people to make a living by producing eggs for the city folk to eat. To farm, you need to have enough income to pay your bills and feed yourself. The 5 hens that were shown running around the feet of the cow, on a sunny summer day will a) feed the farmer and maybe 2 other people (we will need 29, 999, 995 more farmers to do this), b) have a much less pleasant time when it is raining or snowing out, and c) have to earn the farmer $10,000 each in order for the bank not to repossess the farm. If you want to promote free-run or free-range, at least understand what a 5,000 bird flock of hens kept in that system looks like (5000 is about the minimum size of flock where a farmer can make a living).

5) It is assumed that the only reason farmers keep hens in cages is to increase profits and sate their greed. In reality, especially in Canada, there is much more profit to be made farming cage free or organic hens (see my blog post www.mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/the-economics-of-egg-farming-101/). There are several reasons why hens are in cages. Cages are the housing system that result in the healthiest hens, the safest eggs, and the least environmental impact. They are the most efficient method of producing eggs, and thus result in the most inexpensive eggs for the consumer. The industry consists of over 95% of the eggs being produced in cages because that is what the consumer has demanded. If people stop preferring cheap eggs, the farmers will respond.

With these ideas in mind, there are things that happened on the activist video that needed to be improved upon. The farm had an unacceptable method of euthanasia. Their training of employees was weak in this area, and the problem was one of ignorance, rather than callousness or laziness. The method of euthanasia was actually more difficult and labour intensive than the approved, proper and effective methods. In this instance, I thank the activists for finding the problem so that it could be fixed. In 15 years as a laying hen vet, I have never seen another farm that euthanized pullets incorrectly….cervical dislocation is a very effective, humane and simple method of euthanasia that is used EVERYWHERE…..I honestly don’t know where the idea came from on this farm.

The unfortunate side effect of having large flocks (at 120,000 hens, this is one of the largest flocks in Canada) is that there is bound to be injured or escaped chicks. This is what the farmer works to prevent and address on a daily basis. I don’t work directly with this farm, but every farm I work with will inspect each of the cages at least daily, and the vast majority will inspect the barn 2-3 times per day, to remove injured or dead chickens, and make sure no birds are trapped or injured. Despite the appearance of the video (again 4-5 months worth of injuries shown in less than a minute), these things don’t happen often, and happen LESS in cages than in other housing systems. The activist stated that she saw ‘a thousand chicks die’. I don’t doubt it. Sounds dramatic. But think about 1000 chicks out of 120,000 chicks. If you have 5 hens in your backyard, that would be the same rate as 1 BIRD DYING EVERY 22 YEARS.

Is this farm perfect? Absolutely not. They need to change some of their practices. In general, they do a good job. The TV show condemns cages as a method of housing laying hens, but makes no mention of the changes that are being undertaken by the industry to implement furnished cages, which have been shown to be a VERY humane and effective way to house hens, maintaining the health and safety benefits of cages, while allowing much better behaviour capabilities and freedom of movement. Are cages acceptable? As someone who just finished my Masters Degree in Animal Welfare, I am very supportive of furnished cages, as are the ethologists I have worked with over the past 15 years. Only you can make that decision for yourself, however. What I can tell you, is that if you ask for the industry to change, it will. The housing situation right now is in place because that is what the consumer and society has demanded.

If you have any questions or comments, I will be interested in hearing them, and will respond as well as I can.

Mike the Chicken Vet

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62 responses to “Response to Activist Video

  1. It is a shame that the TV program you spoke of only showed one side of the story. Hopefully the shock/sensational reporting style will help viewers to see how their opinion is being manipulated with bias. All viewers have to do is spend their money on eggs that use housing that they approve of, and until they put their money where their mouth is, the world will continue to farm hens in large quantities.
    Thank you for your article, it was most interesting.
    I live in the UK where they have now banned barren/battery cages and it is now law to have Enriched cages where the hens are given the room to nest, roost, scratch and stretch.

    • Thanks for the comment Nessa;

      Television and activists have little interst in showing both sides of the story. Activists are trying to stop animal use, and TV shows are intersted in piquing the interest of viewers. They were both very successful with this show. The only group that didn’t effectively get their message out was the industry. Unfortunately, the deck is stacked against us because the TV crew and activists are in charge of editing, which has a huge impact on the final product.

      Canada is currently moving towards changing our housing as well. We have been working towards this for the past 2 years, doing a massive amount of science analysis and now starting to develop a new code of practice that will almost definitely mandate change in the future…..we are being very careful to try to make the change in the best way possible….for the hens, the public and the industry.

      Mike

  2. Factors farms need to clean up their act in the States. I’m assuming that’s true everywhere. Personally we don’t buy food which isn’t organically raised which we think is the only method available to the common man to send the message. As long as there’s a market and money to be made, food animals will get the worst of it. Whether it’s one or a thousand chicks or pigs crammed into gestation cages or racing greyhounds. Mass producing animals for food will always suck.
    Marcia Greer, CVT
    Colorado

    • Marcia;

      It is great that you are making a thoughtful decision on your food purchases. I caution you to think that organically raised food is automatically ethically superior. Right now, as a niche market, the organic (free-range, really…..the feeding of organic feed has no welfare advantage to animals), market can meet your needs. If you wanted to source all the eggs in the US in this manner, and needed 350 million hens on range, the net effect on chickens will not necessarily be extremely positive. The improvement in behavioural opportunities will be offset quite a bit by more disease, injury and environmental stress. Would it be better overall? It depends on a vast number of factors, but it is definitely not clear-cut.

  3. Dr. Mike,
    Please detail both “cervical dislocation” and “furnished cages”.

    • Hi Donald;

      Sorry for the lack of detail….the post was getting pretty long as it was.

      Cervical dislocation is the breaking of the neck, dilocating the spinal column from the skull. It causes shock and immediate unconsciousness and then death follows irrevocably.

      Furnished cages are bigger, taller cages that have a nest box, scratch pad and perches in them. Usually the hens are housed in bigger groups…..about 30-40 birds in each of these colony cages.

      Mike

  4. Are you saying that 1000 chicks out of 120,000 is 1 in 22 years of a group of 5 chicks? 1000 in 120,000 is 1 in 120 or 1 in every 22 groups of 5…Not arguing with you but your math is iffy!

    • I may not have laid it out clearly…..1000 chicks dying in a year, out of 120,000 is one chick dying every 120 “chicken-years”. If you have 5 hens in your backyard, it takes 22 years to get 120 chicken years…..thus 1 dead bird in 22 years.

      • I take issue with your distortion of the facts presented. The video states that in a “five-day period the investigator saw 1,000 chicks die.” That’s far, far different than 1,000 chicks dying in 365 days. This may be an error on your part, but it doesn’t exactly support your claims of impartiality.

      • Hi Deborah;

        I do stand corrected….in the video I was talking about (the W5 video) the 1000 chicks was not attributed to 5 days. In the Mercy for Animals spinoff, the voice over said the investigator witnessed it in 5 days. I honestly don’t know, as I wasn’t there. Nobody actually knows, since there is no proof except for a quick video clip of about 100 chicks in the video. But I’ll take her word for it. The point is that the 1000 chicks is a very small percentage of the population, and a much better survivability rate than is normally found in backyard or hobby flocks. In Canada, we have to have the right amount of hens to put in barns at 19 weeks (due to our quota system), and we expect to have less than 2% mortality in pullet flocks….we usually do better than that. I’m sorry if you were mislead to believe that I claimed to be impartial…..I am not. I believe that the professional farmers that I work with are usually unfairly portrayed by activist videos, and I was hoping to act as a counterpoint to the decidedly one-sided story that was told by a group with an obvious agenda. Let me be clear….I do not believe that the animal activist groups accurately or fairly portray the realities of agriculture today, and I am interested in informing people of the realities of (and explanations of) modern farming.

        Mike

  5. Mike – great response. For far too long, the agricultural community in Canada has rested on the laurels of “farmers are good people who can be trusted.” They bank on this naivete, and rather than develop effective communications, they spend their resources focusing on how to get more funding from their various governments.

    Very few in the Ag community are prepared to face public pressure, and they have no idea how to do it.

    I’m going to post a link to this blog entry in my next monthly newsletter.

    • Jeff….thanks for the nice response! I appreciate it. The really frustrating thing is, as someone intimately associated with egg production, without having a direct financial dog in the fight, is that the farmers actually are worthy of trust. The self-imposed costs of improvement have been done voluntarily for years. It is one case where poor communications are actually keeping a good-news story in the dark. Also, the supply managed commodities (dairy, egg, chicken and turkey) are the only agricultural groups that get almost no funding from government. We do get some grants for research and product development, but no bail outs, subsidies or cash infusions.

      Mike

  6. diplomatonline.com/mag/tag/factory-farming/

    • Maureen;

      This website shows some of the animal rights organizations efforts to bring questionable farming and agricultural procedures to light. Although many of them don’t deal with poultry, you can see that all of them are actively being worked on by the industries. Some things, like transport are logistically very difficult, due to our weather and large geography, but I can assure you that the people involved are working hard to find practical solutions to the difficulties we face….thanks for sharing.

  7. Good response

    Sent from my iPad

  8. Bravo.

    While there are incredibly minor aspects of your post that I would only slightly disagree with (not really enough to bother mentioning), all of your major points touched on what exactly was wrong with this video, and the activist parties in general.

    Well done.

  9. Mike,
    Thank you for supplying more background and balance to this TV episode.

  10. Well said Mike. The industry is the villain right now, so to have a credible 3rd party spokesperson say this is hopefully more meaningful. The more information people have, the better, I just hope that their ignorance of agriculture and stubborness doesnt close their minds to what is real, and what the activists will have you believe.

  11. Well done Mike! While activists certainly do bring awareness to issues that may need attention, they also unnecessarily paint an entire industry under a cloud of doubt using shock-value and fear mongering. Sadly this is effective for these groups because to John Q Consumer animal rights and animal welfare are synonymous. Thanks for your support on this issue Mike 🙂

  12. While i agree the purpose of the video was to shock people,it has brought to light the inhumane treatment of chickens on SOME commercial egg farms. There is something clearly wrong on this farm,bashing the heads of chicks and throwing them in garbage bags still alive is inhumane,hens packed into small cages,you can clearly see the hens are stressed by their hard panting,there is no excuse for this. This operation should be held accountable for their actions. I personally hope the release of this video will finally make people think about where their food comes from and the conditions some animals live in. The unfortunate part is that now all egg farmers are tarnished because of this incident. I live in a farming area,i know first hand that the majority of farmers treat their livestock very well,this is their livelihood so it would serve no purpose for the animals to be neglected. I have chickens and yes they are pets,i found this video extremely upsetting,makes no difference if it was made over 5 months and edited,the neglect/abuse in this place is disgusting.

    • Mia, don’t get me wrong….I am absolutely not condoning abusing or disrespecting animals. I have invested 2 years of my life and thousands of dollars to get my Master’s degree in animal welfare to further the advancement of animal care, especially with respect to laying hens. There are absolutely things on this farm that need to be changed. The thing that strikes me is how much more work the workers were doing to euthanize the birds incorrectly. To me, that is a sign of ignorance, not neglect or uncaring. That doesn’t excuse the behavior, it just changes the criticism….there should have been more oversight, and better checks and balances. I’m not sure it is cruelty though, which to me indicates intention to harm, or disregard for protection.

      The point where the hens were panting and stressed was a pullet moving cart….the birds spend around an hour in these carts as they are moved from the pullet barn to the laying barn….they do not live for any time in these. Again, it doesn’t change the fact that they are stressed and scared while being moved, I would just like you to know they are not kept in those conditions for any length of time.

      You are absolutely right that people should know where their food comes from. Farmers are in the business of producing food for you. They want to get paid for that, and they take pride in producing quality, safe food. If customers value anything enough, farmers will produce it….that is obvious in the high numbers of different types of farms….free run, free range, organic, local, Omega eggs, lutein eggs, vitamin enriched eggs, brown, white, etc, etc….if any of these markets expand, farmers adapt and produce that type of product. Consumers need to know what they want, and be willing to pay whatever difference it costs to produce that type of product, then farmers will produce it.

      Mike

  13. Thanks Mike.As a manitoba egg producer with the enriched furnished housing system I just wish the W5 report would have taken a look at my barn,obviously it wasnt part of their agenda.John Kelly

    • lyndseysmith365

      I would love to tour ( and film) your barn, John! Email me!

      • Another point lost in the chaos of this video is that things like furnished cages are starting to be implemented across the country. In Ontario, we have 7 furnished cage barns, and I know of 3 in Quebec. Manitoba has committed to providing more extensive housing exclusively starting next year, and British Columbia makes good use of it’s temperate climate by having a large number of free-range flocks. The Canadian industry has been responding to the increasing importance of animal welfare for several years…..on their own, proactively, as good corporate citizens and stewards of the hens. Like John said, that didn’t seem to come up in the show….

  14. Extremely well presented Mike! I just feel like hugging you for telling it like it is. I wish W5 had your report to air!

  15. W5 has no interest in presenting the truth in cases like this.If they did, they would have investigated the group that did the clandestine video more thoroughly so they would know who they are dealing with. But in this case, teh truth doesn’t lead to ratings, does it.

  16. I am one of the folks who have chosen to raise my own hens rather than trust the system. Mike, do chickens get opportunities to dust-bathe in these furnished cages? And your post centers on Canada. I suspect the situation here in the States is different. What’s your take?

    • Hi Mary Lou;

      The furnished cages do have a scratch pad that has a substrate (usually chicken feed) that the hens can dustbathe in. Dust bathing is an odd behavior though. When chickens cant dust bathe, they don’t act stressed, and won’t really work to get to a dust bath. Once you provide a spot for them to do it though, they will dustbathe when they get a chance. It seems to be a behavior of opportunity…if they can, they will, but if there is no opportunity, it is not really missed. I was in an aviary barn yesterday, with sand on the floor, and saw 2 hens sham – dustbathing on the wire platform, when she had plenty of access to a place to dustbathe completely….the motivation for dustbathing is not really well understood yet. As for the US, the egg industry there is trying to pass an “Egg Bill” through congress, making a national program that would require all conventional cages be switched to furnished cages or aviarys, and are actually partnered with the Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights group that they have been battling for years….it is unreal to see these 2 groups co-operating. Ironically, it is the other agricultural groups that are trying to block it….especially cattle and pork producers, who do NOT want national programs to become established…..the drama is entertaining, but it looks like the bill is going to fail, so it will be back to the drawing board…and possibly the battlefield.

  17. Extremely well written and responses too. Great job Mike!

  18. Was there a breach of trust by a member of the #ChickenMafia?: I have 9 Questions concerning the video of neglect+abuse of chickens at 2 Alberta farms http://bit.ly/1bTEEcj

    • Glen, I have no answer to any of your questions. I’m not directly involved with the farm, and you seem to have your mind made up already, in any case.

      • Like you, I also was not personally involved with this farm, and have no info other than what was in mainstream media.

        Thanks for reviewing my 9 questions. From reading your various postings, I sense there is some common ground shared between us on many issues.

        I can understand that some issues can become quite difficult for somebody who earns their living from egg farmers every day, and needs to stay out of the penalty box. You have gone much further than most with your Blog. Open dialogue can be beneficial in raising awareness, and solving the problems. Thanks for your efforts.

        Glenn Black
        President
        Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada
        http://canadiansmallflockers.blogspot.ca

  19. Pingback: A poultry vet responds to this week’s activist videos - Let's Talk Farm Animals

  20. Good job Mike,

    I am glad someone with your creditably stood up for the egg industry. Thanks!

  21. I wonder if there is someway of seeing if “cheap” egg sales went down this week in grocery stores. I doubt it. I linked your response to my blog and Facebook page. I run my own backyard chicken business, supplying a few eggs to friends and family, as well as hatching rare and heritage birds for poultry enthusiasts.

    I really enjoyed your response. I have family who work in the poultry industry, and I think it’s very important to see both sides. (Egg producers of Canada, have really been amping up the positive TV ads). People often forget that cheap baked goods, pastas, frozen dishes, vaccines and other food products contain eggs from the industry. It’s really hard to cut yourself away from that web… so we might as well fight to change it.

    Thank you for posting this response, more people need to read this! (I wish you would have sited some of your “facts”, just to make it that much more solid)

    Meredith

    • Thanks for the support Merideth,

      Absolutely, the number of each type of egg sold is tracked, so somebody will know……I’m not sure I will be one of the people who sees that number or not. This is such a complicated issue, and the public is so unaware of the realities of the industry, and the issue is so emotional (on both sides) that I could have gone on and on. I could have used a lot more facts but was afraid people would lose interest. One positive spinoff of this event is that these discussions are taking place.

  22. Great comments Mike.
    It is great to have someone giving rational explanations.
    Let us also remember that it would be impossible to feed the current world population with solely organic methods and the the incidence of Ecoli and Salmonella recalls is far higher in organic produce than in regular production models.
    Thanks.

    • Thanks Ben,

      I agree that going back to extensive farming is all but impossible, given the fact that almost 90% of the population is urban. People need to realize that all housing systems are a tradeoff….more freedom of movement results in more injury and disease, and less efficiency. You can’t have it all, so you must decide what is more important, and accept the limitations in other areas.

      Mike

  23. This reporter thrives on sensationalism. It’s not his first report that is completely one-sided and fails to give the “offenders” (and I use the word very loosely) their due chance to give their side of the story. He give a modicum of an effort to allow them but in the end, the reporting is very biased. The egg authority was right in demanding the raw video footage of the undercover activist and reserving comment until they had a chance to view it in it’s entirety.
    The undercover video also only shows the one facility. Well two but owned by the same person. There is no mention of any other facilities that were video taped if any. So really, this is an indictment at best of issues at a single facility. This edited video would be inadmissible in a court of law but the court of public opinion is easily swayed.

  24. In my area of Alberta, to have free range chickens would mean having no chickens. The predators would kill all of them. They have to be in cages in-order to live.

  25. I’m a chicken farmer and I think people need to either work on a farm for a while or hear the farmers side before they start judging because we treat our chickens like gold and so do all of the other farmers I know.

    • I’m glad to hear your point of view. The video was apparently filmed by somebody who was working on a Canadian egg farm. When you say “we”, I assume you mean “all chicken farmers”. If that was true that all chicken farmers treat their animals like “gold”, how do you explain the video? Are you suggesting it was all faked?

  26. Glenn – the person working on the farm was only working on the farm in order to take the video. They are an undercover activist with one purpose – to eliminate ALL food animals, including your small flocks. The farm was likely targeted because it was big and Mercy for Animals assumed that it would be bad, and they guessed right. It is definitely not true of all commercial farms. I have been on many, and the birds are generally treated much better. This farm is truly the exception. This is not a time to spread your agenda, but to find solutions for the whole industry big and small because you are also an activist target in the end.

    • I understand your point, and appreciate you sharing it with me and all others.

      I understand the activist’s agenda. I would have hoped, based on the smiles, unicorns, and rainbows all over the websites of the Egg Farmers of Alberta and Egg Farmers of Canada that these activists would have found nothing interesting to support their agenda even if they worked there for the rest of their lives and videotaped 24/7/365.

      I appreciate your assurances that these two egg farms were anomalies, but a week ago the #EggMafia would have denied they existed at all. Two farms like this are two to many.

      How many professionals, suppliers, and other staff not directly involved in this abuse in Alberta turned a blind eye to the abuse, or their suspicions that abuse was occurring, and for how long? Why didn’t the Supervisors or farm owner find this abuse and stamp it out before the activists arrived?

      I realize you don’t have answers to these questions, nor do I, but somebody does (or should), and they need to answer these questions and many more.

      We will not be putting SmallFlockers’ agenda on hold due to the alleged crimes and misdemeanors of the #EggMafia. Small Flockers will continue to advocate for fairness and defend our rights against the oppression dealt to us by the #EggMafia and the #ChickenMafia

      Glenn Black, President
      Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

      • Glenn, you are a pretty smart guy, well spoken, good research. If your approach wasnt so aggressive and you didnt come off as such a nut job, people would probably listen to you.

      • Girls, Girls….you are both pretty! Please, don’t turn this into a debate about the industry vs small flocks. I can see both sides, and have an opinion, but please take your argument to another venue….I’d prefer this to be a site where people come to get information and ask questions, rather than a spot to watch people grind axes. (not that that isn’t fun too)

      • I started by asking nicely, as did a multitude of others who came before me. The grievances of small flock poultry farmers in Canada were repeatedly ignored and dismissed by both the Federal and Provincial governments, and the #ChickenMafia.

        What do you feel is the proper course of action for somebody when their legitimate grievances are ignored by the powers that be?

        The Einstein Institute ( http://www.aeinstein.org/ ) and Saul Alinski ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky ) have a few ideas for non-violent advocacy of legitimate and just causes.

        If you were chronically abused and stripped of your rights, where would you set your speedometer for the avocation of your rights; towards 0%, or towards 100%, or would you suggest continuing to be a victim by letting them have their way with you?

      • Glenn…I would like this blog to not devolve into another spitting contest. Please.

  27. Thanks for this blog post, as a former chicken breeder (small-scale) and a current breakfast restaurant owner, this issue has really hit home with me. I was really dis-appointed with the industry’s response so took it upon myself yesterday to call Egg Farmers of Ontario. I was totally impressed with Bill Mitchell’s calm and informative response which lines up well with this blog post. I was relieved to learn that there is a national direction to move towards enriched/furnished housing with Manitoba being the first province to make this their provincial policy. I also learned that Ontario has a mandatory code of practice that is enforced through random inspections, there are 7 inspectors for 324 farms raising a total of 8 million chickens in Ontario. A small flock in Canada is 500 hens, a small flock in USA is 100 000 hens, the average flock size here in Ontario is 25 000. Yes, we have issues here in Canada, but we should put it into perspective and feel positive that the movement is to more humane treatment. Rather than beat up the egg farmers, let’s get behind them and back them up as they face the challenges of change.

  28. when you say about people filming your kids and trying to make you look bad over time. those kids get good meals and live in a house, chickens living conditions no matter when you look at it is disgusting. those conditions will never change either unless the demand goes down and that’s what these videos are trying to do. We as humans just assume we have the right to take the lives of all these animals just because we don’t speak their language. When really we don’t. The living conditions are what is degusting I am sure no person would want to live in those conditions and be genetically modified and killed so young. People are disgusted by what Hitler did to the Jews, and the slavery of black people….this is the same thing but to animals, they still feel pain and suffer and don’t want to die but yet because they speak a different language we just don’t care…great job people.

    • egg farmer supporter

      So, I’m assuming you eat no meat, no poultry, no fish? Unrealistic comparisons…even the cave man threw a spear to kill and consume!

  29. Thank you for this. I love all animals and just started with chickens. The Chicken Chick references you on a regular basis and I follow her on FB. Anyway, I want all animals to have the life of mine, yet also realize the need to be balanced. In the Bible, God actually gave humans permission to use animals for food and he created them. So giving me a different perspective helps to ease my anxiety. I only hope I lose “1 chicken every 22 years!” I got 6 chicks in the mail and lost 2. I wouldn’t be a good farmer then I guess huh? Thanks for all your time and effort to help us chicken lovers!
    Allison Adams

  30. Pingback: Attack on farming | Rural Ties

  31. Mike, thanks for preparing this blog! Good information, I watched the Activist video but did not share it. I am not a fan of biased reporting, I see it all the time. I hope everybody that consumes chicken’s and eggs will take the time to review your comments. Well done!

  32. If the welfare of the chickens was truly a concern to Mercy for Animals why did they wait 5 months to go public. Just wondering why they didn’t call the appropriate authorities or agencies to investigate right away. By hanging on to the information and taking the time to edit for shock value these animals were left in a vulnerable position for months.

    • I’m sure Mercy for Animals would say that they thought they would do more good overall by waiting to release the video. Or, maybe it took them that long to get enough questionable footage to make the montage …..

  33. Thanks for the excellent perspective Mike. I also really appreciated reading your post from last year when you talked about the negative repercussions from too much ‘knee-jerk’ change such as that which took place in the EU (egg shortages and exorbitant prices). The industry does seem to be committed to providing all the affordable eggs we demand while continuously working to ensure that the hens are provided with as much care and compassion as possible.

  34. Hi Mike, great article (and fantastic website overall!)! I’ve seen you speak a few times, most recently in Banff and last year at PAACO. Really enjoy your approach and perspective. You are doing a terrific thing here sharing your knowledge which is fact and science based. I’ve shared this article with several in the industry as well as on my Facebook to provide a different perspective. It’s great to be able to reference someone who is credible and has the expertise and experience to back it up. I myself primarily work with broilers so am less familair with the layers, but I am proud of the farms I work with and would not have a career in this industry unless it was guided by moral and ethical decisions in all sectors, which I am happy to say it does. Keep up the articles coming!

  35. Great Post Mike! I really enjoyed reading it:)

  36. Very good post! Thanks 🙂

  37. It seems that everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. Consumers want cheap eggs, and farmers want to sell eggs. But the farmers can’t rely on the public to understand what must happen to get eggs that cheap. I wonder what would happen if the farmer’s simply changed their practices and adjusted prices accordingly and the public had no choice but to buy the more expensive (and raised more humane) eggs or don’t buy eggs at all? Would the public be outraged at the monetary cost of eggs and want the old standards back at the price of the chickens comfort? BTW, I’m in AR in the states and standards are not as high as in Canada, from what I’ve been reading from your blog. Poultry workers usually don’t eat chicken or eggs around here, hmmm. In more fairness to the farmers, good employees are hard to find and they can’t always control what they do, even if they told them 100 times!

    • Hi Arkiegardener;

      In fact, what you are suggesting is what is being done, and has been done for the past 50 years. If you increase the price of the cheapest eggs by producing generic white eggs in a more humane manner, the public is fine with it. The trick is that if there is a cheaper egg beside it, VERY few people will pay for a more expensive egg, regardless of why it is more expensive. That is why eggs marketed as welfare friendly (free run, free range, organic) currently only have about 3.5% of the market. Here in Canada, we are working on updating our codes of practice, which will definitely improve welfare of the hens, and will definitely cost more. THat is OK, as long as everyone has to follow the new rules. Nobody can undercut prices, and the consumer will pay (and likely not even notice the increase in price). The worker/employer argument is true, but a good employer will be close enough to his employees to know who is good and who isn’t. Put the dumb-asses to work collecting the eggs, or running the manure belts, and have the good ones managing the hens…..it is still on the employer to be responsible…in my opinion.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Mike

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