Saturday, 10 January 2015

Are UK Eggs Cruelty Free? 'Happy Egg' Hens and their short-lived 'Happiness'

After watching the Vegucation documentary, I contacted 'The Happy Egg co.', a UK free range egg company who sell in most major supermarkets. Their marketing gives us the strong impression that they are cruelty free.

I hoped against hope that our egg industry is not as bad as USA and other parts of the world - where they:
  • Slaughter baby male chicks in a 'crusher'
  • Destroy hens after they are passed their egg-laying days
  • Keeps their 'free range' hens in small, cramped conditions
  • Seer off their beaks at a young age
  • Hens suffer through horrible infections (no antibiotics) and have a painful life before they are killed
You can watch the truly horrific practice on the Vegucation documentary or here. (Warning, very disturbing content)

The response was sadly as I expected, but at least there is no sign of a 'crusher' in the UK. It just shows there is not an economical and cruelty free way of producing large amounts of eggs. I appreciated their honesty and glad I asked, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

Posting this on here to raise awareness of how many hens are slaughtered for our eggs.

 Hi Becca 
Thank you for your email to the happy egg co and your questions. We put the care for our hens at the forefront of whatever we do, which includes how we care for them at the end of their laying life.            
Hen productivity declines as they age, and they stop laying eggs that we can supply to supermarkets at around 72 weeks of age.  At this age they are taken to our facility where hens are exposed to a non-aversive gas to end their lives, this all happens in accordance with guidelines laid down by the RSPCA’s Freedom Food Scheme and the Humane Slaughter Association.    
As it is only hens which lay eggs, male chicks cannot be used on laying farms. We cannot have any cockerels on our happy egg farms as we would risk hens laying fertilised eggs.  At present in the industry there is no way to only hatch female chicks.  Hatcheries are fully focussed on to the most humane ways to remove the male chicks which are identified by their feather colour.  The males are then exposed to a non-aversive gas again in line with Humane Slaughter Association and Freedom Food guidelines.   
We sincerely hope this is enough to assure you that we do all we can to make this process as humane as possible. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be more than happy to help.  
With Kind regards

UK eggs cruelty free

It seems that the only cruelty free eggs are from people who keep / rescue their own small flock of hens and look after them like pets, like my auntie in West Wales, a few friends and this company: Hen Heaven.

Remember to check ingredients for eggs, as they are used a lot, even in Quorn products. These eggs will be sourced from the large manufacturers, who are sure to be slaughtering large amounts of chicks and chickens.


  1. Yes it's horrible isn't it.

    I used to buy organic free range then stopped. Recently started again for my daughter for her breakfast.
    I made the decision to get my own chickens in the spring. Have wanted to keep them as pets for a long time, so at least this way my kids can eat eggs from chickens we know are fed well and not slaughtered when they stop producing eggs (or lay infrequently).
    I'll also be taking a few ex-bats hopefully.

    1. Yes I couldn't believe it. I've been a vegetarian my whole life and didn't imagine this sort of thing went on. Felt so ignorant and blinded by packaging after doing the homework. At least I know now!

      Good for you, Phoenix! I am sure you will make sure the hens have a happy life, and your children will enjoy helping you look after them. Chickens are so sweet!

      I live in a small flat in London, so can't really keep any animals. My mam might in Wales though!

  2. I've been veggie for 2 years and I really want to be vegan but my mum won't let me as its more hassle to buy vegan milk and butter as well as normal. After researching how cruel the egg and dairy industry is I want to be vegan more than anything. I eat free range eggs, "cruelty free" milk and I don't use any products tested on animals or wear fur or skins.

    1. Sounds like you are doing all you can! Some things you can replace with every day items though - like olive oil instead of butter on toast. Also Pure Sunflower spread is just as good as butter and so much healthier - Who knows, maybe your mam will want to give it a go one day? Best of luck and you'll get there eventually!

  3. Hi - I was bitterly disappointed by the exposé of the happy hen co recently - but more worrying was that it debunked 'rspca freedom food monitored' - which was on the happy egg co packaging. As a vegetarian of 30 years standing - I have learned the importance of quality protein (and the dangers of soya to healthy hormone balance) - so eggs have been my class A protein of choice. I will not buy them now - until I can find a local farm where I can see the conditions - and then I will pay whatever it costs.

    1. Thanks for your comment! it is shocking isn't it - I was a vegetarian blissfully ignorant of how the egg industry worked too. It was such a shock. I haven't missed them at all - I just see them in a completely different light now!