The Chicken and the Egg

One of the basic mysteries of life is what came first, the chicken or the egg? We can’t solve that question, but we can learn about how the chicken egg has evolved in the last 50 years.

Back in the 1950’s I read an article in Scientific America about how a Professor of Animal Husbandry proposed a new way to mass produce chicken eggs for the American consumer. Basically, it took the chicken from the farmyard and sunlight to a mechanized feeding and growing production line inside metal barns a half block long with artificial lighting. It is not uncommon to have 10,000 to 30,000 chickens crammed into metal cages inside these metal barns.

The chickens are fed a diet that stimulates faster growth and they weigh more than the barnyard chicken of old. This concept was embraced by the chicken farmers, and today, the majority of the 75 billion eggs produced in the US are from the factory chicken production lines.

It was discovered early on, that 30% of the chickens were developing rickets and breaking their legs. In addition, the crowded cage conditions increased the risk of having a bird disease caused by pathogens to decimate the chicken population.

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