If you aren't sure about whether or not it's "humane" to ship hatched chicks in the mail, read Joel Salatins book "Folks this ain't normal". He breaks it down very simply (and it's a great book that I think every food eater should read). The jist is this, God made them that way. Mama hens have eggs hatch for a few days, since they are laid over the course of days they don't all hatch at once. Because of this, they have to sustain life under her until she takes all the chicks out to find food and water. So hatcheries can ship chicks the day they hatch and you get them by day two or three.
As much as I'm looking forward to having extra eggs to pass along to friends and family. I feel a little apprehension. Very often I find myself explaining why my eggs (and all local and pastured eggs) are better (and sometimes, more expensive). I thought I'd use this space to put some of that info together.
After I posted about my eggs on facebook last night I started to wonder how much "store eggs" cost? And what the differences are. So as I was walking thru the grocery store last night I stopped in to see. I was baffled. There were a few that were less expensive and a few that were more expensive, but none, not one, that was comparable in quality. So how can folks question the cost? Then it hit me! Bam! They don't know what they are getting at the store. The cartons all sport words like farm fresh, all natural, cage free, vegetarian fed. Do consumers know what those words actually mean? Do they think farm fresh means that they came from a farm with a red barn and a white picket fence? Do they think cage free means chickens pecking around rolling fields of green? Do they think chickens are supposed to only eat vegetarian?
I found a good article in Mother Earth News about this topic and am going to use some of those points. Everything take from that article will be in italics.
Ok, let's get started. First off, none of the verbiage on these labels is really regulated, "although there are some third-party verification programs".
Cage Free- that means, simply that. They are not in cages. They live in big warehouses but are not required to have roosts or nesting boxes to behave as normal chickens do. “Cage-free” does not mean outdoor access."
Free Range- often times that means that they have access to the outdoors, but doesn't mean they forage or even that there is grass. “free range” usually means the laying hens are raised in large flocks in big open warehouses rather than in stacked cages. They can walk around, flap their wings and preen their feathers a little. Usually means? huh.
|Egg mobiles at Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm.|