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Eggs maybe considered vegetarian by many since most eggs are unfertilized and do not result in the death of any animals. However, egg farms are usually not cruelty-free since when hens get too old to hatch eggs, they are slaughtered for meat.

Are there any commercial farms that sell cruelty-free eggs i.e. where hens aren't slaughtered for meat but eggs are sold? Are there any such farms in India and Germany?

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    I don't think there will be cruelty-free farms in India. But I see some hens maybe lost or something wandering in the streets. So If you could adopt them and give them love, they could give you egsgs in return everyday. Win-Win. – Ram Keswani Jan 10 '18 at 11:23
  • Hey maybe this is something to think about chickens have other uses when they cant produce eggs any more they can take care of garden pests and fertilize the gardens with their manure. So you don't have to kill them. – Elizabeth Cox Feb 8 at 3:38
  • What about the cocks? – badjohn Feb 13 at 12:07
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There are probably not commercial farms that sell cruelty-free eggs as described by you, but it's likely that there are many individuals who keep a few chickens as pets and do not kill them after their egg production slows.

For commercial farms, it's not commercially viable. Some back of the envelope math says farms would have to charge something like 4 times the price of normal eggs to raise hens and not slaughter older hens. If we simplify the problem by assuming egg production halts instead of slows, and older hens take the same amount of resources as younger hens to sustain, we get:

                                               age_hens_live_to
cost_of_cruelty_free_eggs = cost_of_eggs × ------------------------
                                           age_egg_production_halts

                                           9
                          ≈ cost of eggs × -
                                           2

                          ≈ cost of eggs × 4.5

Since most people don't care that hens are slaughtered, they would opt for the cheaper eggs, and the very small population that would buy cruelty-free eggs (even many vegans would still be opposed to this) wouldn't be enough for such a farm to be viable.

My model for the cost of eggs is very primitive, but see this FAQ from an egg brand (in the US) that markets themselves as having humane practices and claims to love their hens. Specifically look at the question "What happens to the hens when they are too old to lay eggs?". They estimate that they would have to charge about 12.00 $ per carton of eggs, which is indeed about 4 times the current price of eggs in the US.

I've never heard of a cruelty free egg farm in the US, and I think this is the reason for it. Perhaps it's different in other countries, but I doubt it.

P.S. You may also be interested in the question titled "I’ve read bad things about male chicks. What happens at Nellie's?" in the FAQ. It discusses another animal cruelty caused by commercial egg production that you may not have considered.

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    I would really love to be proven wrong on this one. If anyone has examples of farms that don't cull their older hens, please add them as an answer. – Vaelus Jan 5 '18 at 7:03
  • Actually, a start up doing exactly this is doing it's beggining in France – Edelk Jan 5 '18 at 14:02
  • @Edelk How far along are they though? Most start ups ultimately fail. – Vaelus Jan 5 '18 at 14:05
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    I agree with grow your own – Panther Jan 8 '18 at 14:29
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    @Edelk Looks like poulehouse now charges 6€ for six eggs, which is about 12$ per dozen. Looks like the back of the envelope math was about right. Unfortunately, the male chicks are still killed. – Vaelus Mar 1 at 2:41
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All for-profit egg producers kill chickens because it is not commercially viable to keep feeding chickens until old age. If laying hens were not slaughtered around two years of age (as is common) then they would live around four times longer, meaning the sale price of eggs would similarly increase fourfold. This is more than the market will bear, so producers send non-productive laying hens to slaughter in order to reduce costs.

There are rare cases where people keep backyard chickens and sell eggs while letting the chickens live out their natural lives, but this means running at a loss (not for-profit).

"She kept her hens until the end of their natural lives, rather than disposing of them after they reached the unproductive age. I asked her how she could afford to do that, since all the other egg producers I had researched lose money as soon as their hens stop laying regularly but continue to consume the same amount of feed. She said that it was because her farm wasn’t an egg producer —- they had hens because they liked having hens. [...] She wasn't making a profit on the eggs, she was just sharing some happy eggs with her community." https://www.bcliving.ca/the-search-for-a-happy-egg

In addition to the laying hens themselves, it's worthwhile to keep in mind that new laying hens are born from fertilized eggs, and about 50% of those fertilized eggs yield male chicks. Currently most of those male chicks are disposed of as early as possible. If they were also raised to old age instead of being killed, that would again double the cost of producing eggs.

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