Danish organic poultry farms present "major
animal welfare problems," due to "poor food, illness,
lack of medicines, feather-pulling, cannibalism, and stress"
as contributory to the mortality-rate of about 16% among organic
free-range chickens, which is 3 or 4 times higher than the
toll for battery-hens. "Batteries meanwhile are hygienic,
have a low mortality rate and limited behavioral problems,"
according to the Danish animal welfare council (abbreviated
The DDR has stated that "batteries could sometimes be
preferable to free-range: "Animal welfare is not necessarily
better in the alternative systems than in the batteries. The
DDR has found big welfare problems in all of the egg-production
systems." The chairman of the DDR, Professor Peter Sandøe
called it "a choice between various evils, " saying
that "there are big problems in the current production
system. Enriched batteries are an acceptable alternative,
but it is still unnatural."
The DDR explains common problems: "stock bred to live
in batteries are not suited to a free-range life. Strict organic
rules also meant that infections tended to be fatal because
they could not always treated with antibiotics. Predators
might also attack the birds, and bad husbandry can undercut
Professor Sandøe admitted, however, that making stricter
rules for the welfare of the hens in Denmark "would not
help," as the country would then be flooded with cheaper
imported eggs. He asked for "less ideology and more pragmatism
in organic egg production" (Animal Pharm, 22 June 2001).
VEGA welcomes this exposition of evils it has been exposing
these many years and its indictment of so-called animal welfare
societies in the UK who have betrayed the birds with condemnations
of cage-systems while conniving at and even approving alternatives
that make dishonest play with words such as free-range, organic,
and freedom. In VEGA's ideology and pragmatism there's life
without eggs: VEGA can unscramble the dependence on the excessive
output of the hen's ovaries and cloaca, offers means of dispensing
with egg-white in cooking and food-manufacture, and recommends
a recipe for an eggless lemon-meringue.
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