Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cage-Free Eggs and the End of the Nest Egg

McDonald's made news by promising to move to cage-free eggs within 10 years.

I did a Google image search and I'm damned if I can see any eggs or nests, just a bunch of happy hens.   But I want to know--where are the eggs?

In my youth we started the chicks in brooder houses, gradually allowing them to free range. When the pullets started laying they'd usually lay in the corners of the brooder houses, but not always.  They seemed to follow the leader--sometimes you'd find a nest along the fence row where some had laid several eggs.

Once we cleared the old hens out, and cleaned the hen house, we'd move the best pullets into the house.  There they had a bank of nests--3 or 4 rows high, with a walkway behind the nest.  The front was hinged, so you could easily access the nest.  The nest itself would have a "nestegg", meant to signal to the hen that this is where to lay the egg.  It usually worked--very occasionally a hen would lay an egg in a corner of the area.

Found this Youtube video, from a manufacturer of colony cages, approved by the EU.

It appears from the last link that the hens lay their eggs on the wire bottom of the cage, periodically a bar riding on top of the wire moves the eggs to a collection conveyor belt at the front of the cage, and the conveyor belt conveys the eggs to the processing area.  Apparently nesteggs aren't essential.

I wonder--the pictures I've seen have been brown eggs. Brown eggs are prettier than white, though the nutrition is about equal. So are the pictures just showing pretty eggs, or have white Leghorn hens, the breed we raised, become unpopular?

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