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Eating your own chickens’ eggs: Animal friendly or not?

Is it animal friendly to eat the eggs of your chickens? And is it a good idea to keep chickens if you are a true animal lover? Read the answer at ETIKL Magazine.

Many people choose to keep their own chickens and thus eat eggs from their own garden for animal welfare reasons. Yet there is a lot of criticism about taking eggs out of the henhouse. Well-founded or unfounded?

Let's start with the basics: the chicken as we know it does not naturally lay that many eggs. The ancestor of the 21st century chicken, let's call it the 'primal chicken', laid eggs to breed. A maximum of about twenty-five per year, to give you an idea. They laid 4 to 7 eggs in a nest every four months, incubated for 20 days and then the chicks stayed with their mothers for about three months. Today, the average laying hen lays almost one a day: a consequence of modern breeding.

A wild animal instinctively determines its moment of reproduction by the presence of a particular gene, the TSHR gene. This gene ensures that most animals reproduce primarily in a certain season. The chicken as we know it today has been bred so much for its egg-laying performance that this gene has mutated over the years, so it lays eggs all year round.

Does our chicken mind?

Some people think that chickens mind if you take away their freshly laid eggs, and if you leave them, the chicken will hatch them immediately. Unfortunately, in many cases this is not true. A thoroughly bred chicken no longer lays eggs to incubate and therefore no longer has the urge to incubate. If you leave the eggs in the henhouse, there is little chance that an ex-laying hen will hatch them. Also, your hen will not stop laying eggs because the nest is full.

So what do you do with the eggs you take away?

There are many people who, from the above statement, decide to eat the eggs of their chickens. On the other hand, there are people who break the eggs and feed them back to the hens because they have a lot of nutrients. We may not be able to stop our chickens from laying eggs, but we can give them back their lost energy. Chickens lose a lot of calcium during laying, more than they can recover from food. And calcium is contained in the eggshell: something nobody eats anyway. Whether you eat the eggs or not, always give the eggshell back to your chicken.

What if your chicken wants to breed?

Decide in advance if you are going to keep the chicks yourself or if other people are interested in them. Also important to know and think about: on average, half of the chicks are young males and it is difficult to keep several with one or more hens. As a result, a lot of cocks are unwanted and get killed. Here's a golden tip you may not have heard: there are at least as many roosters to be saved as chickens. Are you not necessarily looking for eggs from your own garden? Then you should know that several roosters can live together, under one condition: there should be no chicken around.

You can rescue a laying hen at or and you can also apply for roosters. If you are interested in more than one cockerel, do not hesitate to ask your network, as there are many people who would like to get rid of their roosters.