Is It OK to Eat Eggs From Chickens I’ve Raised in My Backyard?

As an animal rights group, we cannot condone using animals for any reason, which is why PETA promotes a healthy vegan lifestyle.

Hatcheries breed chickens to have “desirable” traits despite any negative effects this inbreeding may have on their health. Accordingly, while red jungle fowl—the wild variety chickens have been bred from—naturally lay about 10 to 15 eggs a year, common varieties of “laying hens” have been inbred to lay more than 300 in a single year. This depletes them of vital nutrients, leading to calcium deficiencies and chronic gauntness. For some breeds, the stress on their reproductive system is often fatal.

To improve the quality and prolong the length of chickens’ lives, they should be fed their own eggs, including the shells, so that they can gain back the nutrients they lose by laying eggs so often. Moreover, for chickens who are most susceptible to reproductive issues, the use of contraception should be considered in order to limit their egg production.

In the egg industry, it’s common for sickly chicks to be tossed out and left to die, while male chicks, who don’t produce eggs and are seen as disposable, are often ground up while they’re still alive. Doing business with hatcheries encourages them to continue to breed and hurt chickens. The only ethical way to obtain chickens is to adopt them from animal shelters or rescue groups that have the birds’ best interests at heart.

You should also know that chickens require specialized veterinary care—something that many veterinarians, who are used to working with dogs and cats, will not be able to provide.

Many people choose not to eat eggs for health reasons. All eggs, regardless of their origin, are high in fat and cholesterol and don’t contain any fiber. In many studies, researchers have found that higher levels of cholesterol are linked to a greater risk of having a heart attack. For every 1% increase in the amount of cholesterol in your blood, there is a 2% increase in your risk of having a heart attack. Conversely, every 1% reduction in your cholesterol level reduces your risk by 2%. Elevated cholesterol—anything above 150—promotes atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and cells in the arteries that feed the heart. When these arteries become clogged, a section of this muscle loses its blood supply. The result is a heart attack.

The best thing that anyone can do to help animals is to choose not to eat them, and we have so many options as consumers that there’s simply no reason to use animals for food. By being vegan, you’ll be helping animals and yourself as well: Going vegan helps prevent strokes, osteoporosis, kidney stones, many types of cancer, diabetes, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, peptic ulcers, hernias, obesity, gallstones, hypertension, asthma, and many other medical conditions and diseases.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind