One Egg Each

One Egg Each? We Are 8 Billion

If everyone raised their own chickens and hens… (part two)


Healthy food? We should learn what the nutritional needs of these animals are at various periods of their development, what raw materials to use and how to mix them. Or we buy a few bags of ready-made feed. But how do we control its quality? How do we distribute the feed so that all our animals get their correct ration? How do we prevent this feed from becoming food – or otherwise attracting – wild birds, mice and various insects?

Fresh water? One must equip oneself with specialised drinking troughs for chickens and hens, adjust their height according to growth, regulate the pressure with which the water comes out according to consumption and prevent the water from becoming dirty and contaminated. Avoid creating wet areas under water troughs that would be a culture for bacteria. Disinfect the water system regularly even when using drinking water.

Ventilation? Chicken and hen chicks need a lot of heat, around 30-35°, and for the first few weeks some infrared lamps are needed. Once impregnated, the chicks gradually learn to warm up and can live in temperatures of 10-30°.

Slaughter? Who will kill and slaughter the chickens when they are ‘mature’? If they will be slaughtered all at once, a large freezer will be needed to store them. If they will be slaughtered one at a time, the care of the remaining ones will never end….

Vaccinations and diseases? Broilers and laying hens must be vaccinated against the most important avian diseases. A veterinarian is needed to prescribe the vaccines, administer them and administer them. In addition, our animals could fall ill with something else, because respiratory infections are common, as are intestinal infections. A vet will again be needed to assess the health status and possibly prescribe treatment with medication.

Can you already do the maths? Not only economically, but also in terms of time and effort required. And to think that while in theory everyone could do their own little home breeding, in practice there are 8 billion of us on earth and it would not be possible to implement it.

However, all the indications listed are only a part of the care that is taken by professional breeders of large conventional farms otherwise called intensive or protected.

What it takes to run a personal herd that can guarantee eggs and meat to a family with the same security and peace of mind as a protected herd, clearly sounds easy, but in reality it is objectively very demanding and characterised by direct and indirect costs that when you are not in the trade you cannot even imagine.

The quantities of animals reared by the poultry sector are objectively large, and those who criticise its size probably ignore the fact that its aim is to provide healthy, nutritious, cheap food worldwide and that the only way to do this is to respect animal welfare even if anti-farming associations accuse farmers of not doing so. M.A.C. often points out that animal welfare is necessary if one intends to be a professional farmer. Without animal welfare one cannot even speak of intensive/protected animal husbandry. If animal welfare is lacking we are in the presence of clandestine or at least irregular breeding.

There are also those who follow alternative paths that are only apparently virtuous, engaging in alternative forms of rearing laying hens using what they have at their disposal: woods and fields. One goes so far as to speak of ‘forest’ farms. Laying hens living in the woods. This type of rearing is a real example of ‘artisanal’ solutions for egg production: manageable if risk-laden and able to function within certain limits; 2,000 hens in about 20,000 square metres of forest with 4 people to supervise the rearing. Health risks aside, the costs of these eggs are at least 70 cents each, to which shipping/delivery costs must be added.

These are examples, even numerous ones, with the strong limitation of being little more than family farms that will never be able to satisfy the egg needs of the market made up of food industries and human consumption, even considering only the aspect of the price that is unattainable for those who use eggs for large-scale production and in any case with numbers that could never be able to satisfy the demand/supply dynamics that are so broad and traditional that it is difficult to be fully aware of them.

In addition to these considerations, it must be clearly stated that the forests and land available on Earth would not be enough to cover market demand.

It is important to repeat that one of the functions of intensive/protected breeding is to meet the demand of entire nations by making each one potentially independent of imports.

The poultry sector, for eggs alone, moves millions of euros a year in raw materials for feed and hundreds of thousands of dedicated workers to ensure the continuity needed to perform the complicated task of guaranteeing what is defined as ‘food security’, understood as the security of a sufficient, constant, cheap, nutritious food supply. (link to first part)


The editorial staff of M.A.C.