Roosters Don’t Lay Eggs: The Unavoidable Cruelty of Yard Hens

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Sweet Life Of A Yard Hen

Yard hens are all the rage these days. My friends, some of the gardening blogs I follow, the farmer from whom I get some of my veggies all keep these ‘girls’ for their eggs, to till soil, even rid gardens of insect pests. It’s not a stretch to say these chickens have it pretty good, that their welfare is sound. In general, they are cared for, protected from harm, and live long, natural lives rather than the punctuated months they might suffer within industrial conditions.

Descendants of the Red Junglefowl of Asia, chickens as we now know them were first domesticated thousands of years ago. In those times, domestication of an animal was done out of necessity — it was literally life and death for the clans of Homo sapiens. In the event eggs could not be collected for food, flesh and organs of these birds could conveniently be cooked and eaten. It’s easier to catch and eviscerate a living animal who trusts you than it is to hunt one who doesn’t. Domestic ‘food’ could be packed up and taken when forced to move on, ensuring survival of our own species in difficult times.

These are hardly difficult times.

Yard hens in the 21st century are the consumer’s response to animal welfarism and a more healthy egg. It is a step closer to nature when a hen lives her natural, stress-free life, eating a diet of plants and insects and pastured to roam free and socialize with other chickens. She is healthier overall and therefore produces better, healthier eggs — her ‘product.’ Whereas industry settled into clipped beaks, crammed battery cages, and shortened, miserable lives to ensure a safe, profitable product for human consumption, yard hens — like Romani above — were the answer to improved animal welfare and tastier eggs.

There will be no argument here that the yard hen pictured above lives a better life than her industrial cousins, given what and who I know about her.

But…where have all the roosters gone?

How The Other Half (Barely) Lives

Scramble an egg for breakfast or make a pecan pie with yard eggs. Are you picturing a happy rooster who made it happen? Probably not.

For the billions of hens born into industrial egg-laying business, millions of those get to stretch their wings at family farms and in backyard flocks instead. The sole purpose of the hen is egg production, those regular reproductive incubators in which would-be embryos would otherwise grow. Humans then collect the eggs to consume this mucus as food, use the protein as a binder for baking. The hens don’t seem to mind our taking their eggs; they are quite trained to it. Certainly some roosters — and their sperm — were involved in creating this machine, but a hen is usually what is imagined when thinking of the egg.

Perhaps it’s silly to state the obvious here: roosters don’t lay eggs. It’s an important distinction, because it lays way for an uncomfortable fact about genetics. Sex is a 50/50 game, assigned by genetics, not by the people who ‘create’ chickens in the lab, the way it is done anymore. The sad truth is that for every female chicken hatched, there is at least one male that also comes into existence.

Hens lay eggs, but, sadly, rooster’s don’t.

The Story of ‘Romano’

At egg hatching in the industrial world, Romani will find herself hand-sorted apart from a male (Romano) since she is the money-maker. She will be be sold for egg-laying operations, factories, mom-and-pop farms, feed stores, and individuals like you and me. Romano, on the other hand, will be tossed aside. His future is one of painful suffocation or grinding alive, the industry standard depending upon the facility, and either way, his flesh will be converted into pet food or trash. He is just days old when his life ends.

This is fact, an unintended but necessary consequence thanks to humans who consume eggs.


Hen’s purpose = lay eggs for humans
Rooster’s purpose = death as a baby

Sometimes, Romano is spared in the sexing process; thought to be a hen, he will wind up living out his full life somewhere else. Mistakes happen. He could become part of the the illegal (but still thriving) cock-fighting circuit where he will fight to (perhaps) his untimely death anyway, making money for his owner, or wander pastures strutting his stuff and making noise. These are the exceptions to the rule, exceptions to the millions killed in America alone, every single day.

The rooster’s purpose, stated bluntly, is to die.

As we buy our chicks from certified sources, we only get hens. ~ Vital Farms

Pastured egg companies are careful not to say too much. They know the truth. ‘Certified sources’ in the case of hens created for pasture-raised and yard use are none other than growers of animals, growers that do it most efficiently.

Growers of chickens are none other than the same folks who bring to the groceries factory-farmed chicken eggs. Theirs is a business more profitable and efficient. They simply ‘create chickens’ better providing a repeatable product that humans will buy — hens only, please.

As with meat and dairy in general, animal welfare is second only to profits. That bottom line is rarely good when all lives are considered — particularly if the life is one of a male chicken, a rooster.

Connecting The Dots

No matter how compassionately one might treat a flock of feathered ladies in their yard, the fact still remains. Roosters must die. The answer is not one of animal welfarism but of purposeful abolition of a species created solely to benefit humans. The alternative in the 21st century is quite simply to use plant-based alternatives and to stop eating eggs.

Vegan is the only way the Red Junglefowl will return to his roots and live the life he evolved to live, a life as nature intended, a life without human manipulation.

Go vegan and let the rooster live.

Yeah they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah here come the rooster (Yeah)
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no   oh
You know he aint gonna die
Yeah they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah here come the rooster (Yeah)
You know he ain’t gonna die

If we can live healthy productive lives without the
harm of others, why wouldn’t we?

Go vegan.

23 thoughts on “Roosters Don’t Lay Eggs: The Unavoidable Cruelty of Yard Hens

  1. You always raise very good points Shannon, I had considered some laying hens more as pets with benefits, but I will think much harder now and research the farmers more thoroughly. If we ever end up with animals in our yard I will definitely get an equal number of girls and gals, even if it makes logistics a bit trickier!


    1. Nice of you to take the time to comment. I know you are a thoughtful person and would research your options accordingly. This is decidedly a sensitive subject considering that billions of animals are required to die unnecessarily for this ‘benefit.’

      Think of it another way: instead of chickens, women are held so that others may consume their menstuation mucosa (and the unfertilized egg with it) because of its baking properties and our love of a hot breakfast. Although these women would be treated well by their caregivers, have a ‘good life’ and enjoy being human otherwise, this harvest would be done entirely against their will to ensure success…a/k/a/ profitability. In a nutshell, this is what we (humans) have created so that we (humans) can enjoy eggs and dairy, only not with the human species.

      With all that is good in this world, I’d like to think we can do better than that. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A very good and accurate turnabout on the mucosa — you bring bare truth to each comparison and make it real and convincing. Super stuff, Shannon. Thanks so much for your voice 🙂


      2. I appreciate that. It’s difficult to keep quiet within my meat-eating community. I just threw another ethics piece out there just now. A new and different take…thanks for reading, Bill!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed, go vegan. Don’t participate in this exploitation.
    Great post. Hope it reaches a lot of people and spreads awareness!

    PS: there is no ‘subscribe to follow up comments’ option on your blog, are you aware? (so I get notifications when someone replies to this post).


    1. Thank you for coming by and commenting. My blog only has a handful of regular blog followers; this post was aimed at my email followers which are personal friends and family — all of which are not vegan. They rarely come to the blog but rather read posts in their inbox instead. I would be surprised if more than 20 eyes see this post. WP rarely fresh presses the vegan ethic, and many of my regular followers are also not vegan (therefore won’t share).

      I write because it seals my own defense of animals, helping me to visually sort out a firm argument on the ethics of using animals. I try to keep the emotion out it and simply state the reality for what it is. My life is joyful, after all; theirs is not.

      As for comment following, I didn’t realize there was such a thing. I will have to look into it. Maybe it’s a setting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your comment, Uncle Guac. I only have time enough for one social media outlet, and WordPress is it. I barely have enough time for THIS blog!

        Besides, the people I mostly write for (with the exception of myself) is family and friends who receive posts by email. Anyone elses ‘eyes’ on it would be a bonus.

        The world is waking up.


  3. OMG – there is so much good info here!!! Last week I watched a video of a few kids (baby goats) playing and for whatever reason it really hit home. I’ve always known that animals feel and play just like humans, but for whatever reason that video made me spend some time thinking about my choices – one of those being a change in my diet as I’ve cut out meat (still eating some fish). A few days after seeing that video I was watching a John Oliver episode on chickens – Shannon are you familiar with him? You can watch most of the news reports on Youtube for free – I’ll include the link to the chicken one below (please note it’s from HBO so the content is for adults). All of his videos are excellent – a mix of great news reporting, comedy, and sarcasm.

    To make a long-story short, your post hits home! Thanks for a great write-up. Oh and….love the Alice in Chains video as I’m a big fan; just picked up this album and their MTV Unplugged on vinyl.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Here’s a book for you, Matthew: “Four Fish” by Paul Greenberg. It was easy to quit eating fish after learning of the environmental disaster we’ve created in our oceans and rivers.

      I will check out Oliver’s video. I’m intrigued and glad to have you link here! Thanks for coming by, as always. And I hope you consider going full-tilt vegan.


    2. ‘Everything tastes like chicken.’ Ha! I’ve heard (though can’t personally confirm this) that human meat is most similar in structure, even tastes like…get this…BACON. We are freakin’ cannibals, plain and simple. LOL Brilliant video.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s sad that people often don’t think about what happens in the egg industry because they are so concerned with not eating meat that they forget that the egg industry is just as cruel, if not worse. Those poor chickies there should be a fun to save male chickens, but where would be put them all thanks to mas reproduction there must be thousands of male chicks, enough to fill every animal sanctuary in the US.


    1. Thank you so much for coming by, Bat-el. If all the the male chicks in America could be saved, sanctuaries would house BILLIONS of them every year — with a B. That’s how many die due to eggs. I’ll not go into the deaths for ‘meat’ production.

      And we call ourselves civilized. Tsk tsk. All in the name of food. I say to my fellow Americans, dig a little deeper!

      Liked by 1 person

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