Everytime I smell an egg being fried it takes me back to the summer holiday of 1996. My Saturday/holiday job was on a local farm just doing general farmyard duties; mucking out, feeding, collecting eggs, in the milking shed etc.
Proper work for a 15 year old, but we didn’t have as many stupid laws then or that damn health and lack-of-common sense act wasn’t really enforced, even though was enlightened to us 22 years earlier, we still didn’t give a shit. I think the shit giving still didn’t give until several years later, and it was the time when snowflakes fell from the sky not cultivated in the colleges/universities.
The smell of these eggs takes me back to one specific duty that had to be carried out several times a day, that was the collection of eggs from the Hen House, well, to call it a hen house as just given it an upgrade, it was a dirty old shed rammed full of these rusty old cages. A shed that lacked ventilation and was stained with the tainted smell of shit and decaying bodies.
With just enough room to squeeze the bird in, poor creatures couldn’t move, they were wing-to-wing. All they could do was lay an egg and shit (usually on the worse off bird in the cage below). This is cruelty at its meanest, now, I dont believe in animal rightest activists but, I do believe that every animal should live by the 5 freedoms. The only eggs I ever buy are free range, and I always make sure they are free range – easy detection, they should still have shit on them 🙂
The farmer would give me several dozen paper egg holders and I would have to fill them before being allowed out of the hen house – each holder held between 50 and 75 eggs. It sounds to be a lot of eggs but it only took about 35 minutes to pick several hundred, thats if you were careful and didnt get pecked several times.
It also depended on how many dead birds you had to take out of the cages, usually 5-20 per day. It wasnt just the poor conditions that was killing the birds off, it was cannibalism.
Yes, cannibalism is a big problem with poultry, it would appear that they like the taste of eggs and bird. Collect too many eggs and accidentally drop one into the cage below, you see how fast they eat the yolk, shell, everything!
It wasn’t as though they were hungry either because they are fed shit-loads, they are fattened-up in the hope of faster production with a constant access to seeds.
I accidentally dropped an egg once and it landed on a birds head in the cage below, what followed was crazy. A fight broke out with the birds and the birds on either side started pecking away. They were like a bunch of feathered piranha’s with wings and feathers splashing about everywhere until…. silence.
Many times when I pulled a dead hen from a cage it was missing its head and often most of its body was just skeleton from its cellmates feast.
That was just one of the daily duties of a farm hand. I seriously hope things have now changed for the better even though I will still ever only buy free range.