In response to the flurry of media coverage about white and brown eggs, we wanted to share some chicken & egg truths.
It is, in fact, genetics that determine aggression levels within commercial laying hens, not just the colour of their feathers. Equally, husbandry variances at farms can massively increase or decrease aggression which has nothing to do with the birds or egg colour. Small flocks that have the space and freedom to roam and display natural behaviour are less likely to be aggressive towards other birds than large flocks kept within a more confined environment. Very few farmers have white hens, and this topic is deflecting from real welfare issues – buying free-range is the single most important decision consumers can make.
Whether an egg is brown, white or blue bears no real relevance on the living conditions of the hen that laid it. What people need to be looking out for is what’s written on the packaging. Free-range hen eggs will be clearly labelled as free-range on the packaging, and the number printed on the egg will be number 1.
Commercial hens are kept in large flocks, resulting in the need for beak trimming – whilst termed a mutilation, this is a necessity to minimize aggression levels when birds are kept in unnaturally large flock numbers. We agree with beak trimming whilst there is no alternative management method to prevent wider welfare issues. You can read more about our position on this here >>.
As a charity we save 65,000 hens from slaughter every year and rehome them as family pets, many of which are brown hens that lay brown eggs. These hens, as our rehomers will happily confirm, make great pets, lay tasty eggs and are friendly and intelligent animals.
We have no preference for the colour of our hens, we simply believe that every hen deserves to live a life where she is free to stretch her wings, scratch for bugs and slugs and enjoy a relaxing dust bath.