Advocate for Backyard Chickens, Too

Photo credit: thanks to @writing_liberation for the post on World Egg Day:

Today is World Egg Day, and I want to make a plea to my fellow vegan activists and advocates:

From this day forward, please make backyard eggs a part of your vegan activism.

It’s easy to get caught up in the atrocities of industrial egg farming. The images of hens packed into battery cages or crammed by the tens of thousands into so-called “free-range” sheds are grotesque and horrifying. And so blatantly wrong.

But the bucolic imagery and idyllic narratives of backyard egg farming mask untold horrors in their own right. I’ve seen, hundreds of times over, what happens to hens and roosters on these farms…how their bodies break down and are left unprotected from weather, predators, abuse, neglect…

Please: educate yourself about the impacts of domestication and selective breeding on chickens—how hens are forced to lay eggs even as their bodies break down because of it, and how roosters are killed because they don’t lay eggs at all. Learn about hatcheries and shipping chicks, about “spent” hens and dumped roosters, about “freezer camp” and “fry pan chicks,” about cancer and reproductive disorders and osteoporosis…

The problems of exploitation are not absent from backyard eggs—they just have a better packaging.

Their eggs, the hens’ eggs, are no more “gifts” for us in a backyard than they are in a battery cage. To see them that way is self-aggrandizing nonsense. Even though humans have forced hens to lay like they do, the eggs still belong to the hens, and always will.

Please: let us make backyard chickens and eggs an integral part of our vegan activism. Let us see it as a crucial component of responsible, anti-speciesist advocacy to talk about backyards as much and as fervently as we do battery cages.

Perpetuating or excusing “humane” animal farming does no good for animals in the end, and drawing arbitrary distinctions between models and scales of farming only keeps animals on our plates.

Celebrate World Egg Day by giving up eggs, or if you’re already vegan, by expanding your commitment to the animals by always including backyard chickens in your activism. ❤️

For more info and resources:
Eggs Hurt
Chicken Run Rescue
Triangle Chicken Advocates

(Photo credit: thanks to @writing_liberation for the post on World Egg Day:

#WorldEggDay #govegan #eggshurt


Published by

Justin Van Kleeck

I am a vegan (since 1999), a curious skeptic, a bookworm, a nature lover, and your garden-variety neurotic. My wrestling with chaos manifests as writing and, with my wife, tending our friends the plants and spending quality time with our rescued furry kids. I am fun at parties (because I am never there) and so unique that I am easy to forget. So take that, modernity.

4 thoughts on “Advocate for Backyard Chickens, Too”

  1. We can’t do everything. What targets will have the most impact? I feel the public will have more sympathy if we show them rescues and pictures from factory farms. Also, if we get legislation against the factory farms the backyard farms will be gone too. How do we help roosters? Just about every jurisdiction bans roosters, because they make too much noise.
    But I will certainly use my voice if anyone tries to say backyard chickens are a solution to factory farms.

    1. Banning industrial farms will not automatically get rid of smaller farms. In fact, many small farms and backyard farmers criticize “factory farming” as much as vegans do and hold themselves up as a nicer alternative—they’d be more than happy to get more business. Including backyard eggs in vegan advocacy isn’t a huge ask—having a basic understanding of issues doesn’t take a ton of research if you use the resources included here, and it boils down to something as simple as not saying backyard eggs are better or more humane than those from industrial sources. You don’t have to go on a town by town crusade to include backyard chickens.

  2. Thanks for this essay. When I did educational tours at various farm sanctuaries I worked at over the years, people who respond constantly that they knew “industrial, factory farming was bad” and fall back consistently on saying they “only got “humane eggs” from a neighbor. I would point to all the victims and survivors of cruelty at the sanctuary and respond that yes, factory farming was horrific, but 90% of the beings in residence at the sanctuary were actually rescued from all the small “backyard” farms that everyone does think are so idyllic. It is really important that we simply clarify the message: that farming of animals in all it’s forms is cruelty and exploitation. Once you simplify the message, people have no place to run and hide from the truth.

    1. Thanks Rebecca. I think sanctuaries can provide so much information about this issue (small farming and why the truth isn’t as happy as farmers say it is). We all have so many stories involving individual animals. I also think it’s important because a focus on industrial farms only does not automatically mean these small farms will disappear. In fact they might get MORE interest and business if vegans only focus on scale and living conditions…

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