This post comes amidst the new 'en vogue' season of Veganuary.
If you know anything about us (5th Generation family farm), you'll probably guess that I'm no fan.
Veganism is a choice, a choice that everyone is free to make. My choice is to look after animals in a way that is more emotional, sympathetic and caring than what many see as cruel 'profitable farming'.
Farmers on the whole do not object to Veganism. However, they are becoming increasing irritated by a constant barrage of insults, front door climate protests, animal rights crusaders and media campaigns that seem to no longer have a balanced view of stating facts (that's you BBC!)
Now to make this more than just a rant, I believe eggs can be a much needed solution that actually forms a solid compromise between warring camps.
I've slated others for being Biased on this front, so here comes the scene setting (objectively).
1) There are a growing number of people who are increasingly aware of animal's contribution towards climate change. Methane, deforrestation, monocropping and animal cruelty play into this narrative. However, within the context of UK farming systems, to blame farmed animals if often too simplistic when considering positive wider impacts livestock farming has within it's ecosystem, and the negative consequences of what could replace animal farming. In amongst this group are animal activists/enthusiasts that cannot ever consider animal products where something dies (fare enough) or in their eyes, exploited.
2) UK Farmers reject the media's negative globalistic view of farming impacts, as UK farmer's have been at the forefront of positive change for the past 20 years. Impacts such as deforrestation, intense chemical agriculture, and carbon emissions are of very limited impact within the UK farming system. UK farmers argue that growing voices within Veganism solely rely on widespread globalised food transport for their balanced diet, where farmed products from developing countries thousands of miles away rate poorly for the eco conscious. Farmers also believe it is a flawed logic to say that animals have not died as a result of farming other products such as Grains and pulses, when they undoubtably have. However, animal farming those species that do not convert cellulose are inefficient as concerns of food scarcity grow. A pig with a FCR of 1:2.5 would need to consumer 250kg of feed in order to provide 55-65kg of useable meat. This in terms of efficiency converts poorly.
Now we have a solution based on several things. Eggs are a fragile food source, one retailer can have up to 4-5% breakages in store. This means that if one egg breaks in a pack of 12, the other 11 may be condemned to waste. We are working on a scheme whereby we can save the remaining 11 eggs. Now consider this retailer sells 32 million eggs per day and you have some concept of the scale of eggs going to waste.
Now, a chicken will regularly lay an egg, regardless of if it's on a farm or not, pregnant or not, as it is a genetically coded product of it's biology. This egg obviously has a list of inputs, energy expenditure and costs that created it. When this egg ends up in the bin, there is more than just a financial loss, but an ecological cost. By us getting these eggs, technically the end product would be carbon negative from the perspective that it would otherwise be a wasted product.
These eggs would go from being a shell egg, to a liquid product. This would mean an extended shelf life (reduced risk of further waste), and due to our technical knowledge on processing eggs, would not need to be refrigerated.
Refrigeration is a huge carbon emitter. The energy required to reduce a large amount of liquid by just a single degree celcius is huge. So much so that if the National Grid had a surplus of power, they ask large scale refrigeration units to switch on.
By reducing the need for refrigeration, reducing the burden of food waste, and extending the shelf life, we negate the enviromental impact of the chicken. Due to advancement in genetics and technology, our industry is reducing the need for measures such as beak trimming and male chick euthanasia, which kind of leave animal activists left with heavily hollowed out argument. If this can be fully implemented, minimal death and suffering would be attributable to egg farming, giving activist less reason not to embrace nature's very own Multi-vitamin which can be 100% sustainable without hindering the ability of the chicken to live it's best life.
Let's hope it is a day very soon.