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Superheroes saving hens strike again

Free range layer hen
Photo by Andrea Gantz

People may think they are doing a good deed, but they really aren't

November 29, 2016

A few days ago, I read a news story about a young British girl, a farmer’s daughter from North Yorkshire, U.K., had "saved from death" 7,000 laying hens, by appealing to people through Facebook to buy them as pets for one Euro each.

Many would think she is a cute young girl, full of dreams and good intentions. No doubt she is, but it is surprising to see the unfounded arguments. First, she said that laying hens at 71 weeks of age laid eggs that no longer meet the strict standards to be sold in supermarkets, and therefore they are slaughtered. Did it occur to her to think that the main reason is that they stop to be economically efficient? No.

Then, she “promised” to prospective buyers that "the hens will still lay eggs for many years to come." Did she wonder at what cost? Clearly, one or two hens do not represent much for a middle class European family in terms of cost, but it sure will be cheaper and convenient to buy a dozen eggs in the supermarket.

The alleged "heroine," as she was called, said her laying hens have "overly friendly temperaments, they need enough space to roam and, especially, are very sociable." What is this? Where did she get these conclusions?

It's really amazing where human foolishness is going with the animals that feed us. More surprising is the number of adults who believe it. To make matters worse, they are called heroes, and as in every story of heroes, there are villains. In this case, the villain is the poultry industry that "ruthlessly kills the laying hens."

Then they will complain in the U.K. of outbreaks of avian influenza and its devastating impact on the poultry industry. Or zoonosis. Or expensive eggs. Will there then be a superhero to save us? What do you think?