We took a very short trip to the Hickman family egg farm in Arizona where we took a brief look into a hen "house."
As our tour guide let us know, all hens, just like humans, live in different types of houses, and these particular hens live in a cage. We were told that the hens are only in these particular cages between the hours of 7 to 11 am, their egg laying hours. Oh, and by the way, they typically lay one egg a day.
So, where do they spend the rest of their day? That, they didn't say, or show. The only pan the camera showed, I didn't see any grass, and that concerned me. We were invited, as "live" (although I still am not convinced it was live) viewers to send in questions, which I did. I asked where the grassy area was for the hens to graze and peck in, or where they spent their non-laying hours. Of course, my questions was not answered.
Most of the video was spent with the husband and wife Hickman duo at a table outside their hen house (?) answering questions, many of which they never actually answered. For example, when asked if they had children, and if they involve their children in their family business, the wife answered that their kids are watching from school right now!
When asked why some eggs contain two yolks, the answer was "it's your lucky day." When they were asked what their busiest time of year was, the husband answered Easter, and stated that they really "ramp up" for the season. I'd like to know how you "ramp up" the laying process. How exactly do your force a hen to lay more eggs?
When asked if the nutritional value of all eggs are the same, they answered "yes, because all chickens eat the same feed." To that, I have to utter, NO THEY DON'T!
According to many free-range chicken experts and cage-free chicken farmers including homestead.org,
"The nutritional value of free-range eggs makes this challenge a worthwhile endeavor for the homesteader wanting to produce higher quality eggs for a healthier diet. Recently, Mother Earth News did an egg study comparing free-range eggs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs. The findings showed that free-range chicken eggs produced the following results: • 1/3 less cholesterol • 1/4 less saturated fat • 2/3 more vitamin A • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids • 3 times more vitamin E • 7 times more beta-carotene."
Having really looked forward to our first Discovery Education virtual field trip, I was quite crestfallen. I went to Hickman family farms so I could learn more about them. I thought maybe I just hadn't given them the benefit of the doubt, or I'd seen one too many PETA videos, or something, but their website doesn't do much for me either.
Maybe Discovery Education just needs to do another virtual field trip, one where the chickens live like this.
I mean, don't children deserve to know that chickens live happily too?! Or heck, maybe we just need to break down and raise some ourselves!
FYI, this "review," if you want to consider it that, is my own opinion. No one asked me to write it, nor did they ask me to attend the program. If you have any questions, or comments, please feel free to let me know.