Are Eggs Chicken Abortions

Are Eggs Chicken Abortions? (Ethical & Scientific Answers)

No, chicken eggs are not abortions. For one thing, almost all eggs – especially commercially produced eggs – are not fertilized and can not hatch a chick. Also, even if the egg is fertilized, this is not the correct use of the word abortion.

Are Eggs Really Chicken Periods or Abortions?

To help you better understand why a chicken egg is not an abortion, it helps to understand how a chicken’s reproductive system works.

First of all, chickens do not have menstrual cycles. Only mammals – and not all mammals – have menstrual cycles, and only a few animals have periods.

I know I’m stating the obvious, but chickens are birds. Birds’ reproductive systems of very different from ours and you need to fully understand that to see why eggs are not abortions.

Chickens need certain environmental conditions to lay eggs. Primarily, these are good sunlight, the right nutrition, and good living conditions.

What comes as a surprise to most people is that female chickens (hens) do not need male chickens (roosters) present to lay eggs.

Hens lay eggs on a regular basis. Without a rooster, those eggs will not be fertilized and will not produce a chick.

There are no roosters kept with commercially managed hens, hence the eggs you see at the supermarket will not be fertilized.

Hens lay eggs on a regular basis, you can’t simply stop them from doing so. Without a rooster, those eggs will not be fertilized and will not produce a chick.

There are no roosters kept with commercially managed hens, hence the eggs you see at the supermarket will not be fertilized.

So, even if you saw a fertilized egg as being an ‘abortion’, which it’s not, fertilizing an egg has to be deliberate.

Related More info on why chickens do not have periods.

Are the Eggs We Eat Baby Chickens?

No. The short answer is that the eggs that we eat from supermarkets are not going to be and will never be baby chicks.

An egg needs to be fertilized by a rooster to develop an embryo. That is very rare with commercially bought eggs as the hens are kept in living conditions without a rooster.

Not only because egg farmers do not want the eggs to be fertilized, but also because having a rooster in the flock can cause other problems.

You’re more likely to come across a fertilized egg when buying free-range eggs from a farm as they may have a rooster on the farm.

But even in the rare case that an egg is fertilized, the embryo will not start to develop unless the hen sits on the egg to incubate it.

Even this is not always guaranteed to happen. Hen’s typically need to build up a clutch of eggs before they go broody and feel the need to hatch a clutch of chicks.

I’m not trying to gross you out – and honestly, there is nothing gross about it – but you may have eaten fertilized eggs before without knowing it.

Does this mean you were ‘eating’ what would have been a baby chick?


As I explained, the embryo would not have started to develop at all and was never going to once the egg was removed from where it was laid.

RelatedHere is why you can’t hatch a supermarket egg.

Is It Ethical to Eat Eggs?

If you’re fine with consuming animal products, it is ethical to eat eggs.

This does depend on how those eggs are produced, however. The ‘are eggs ethical’ debate centers around the conditions laying hens are kept in and how ethically eggs are produced.

On the extreme end of the spectrum, you have battery hens. These are hens that are kept in small battery cages for the purpose of laying as many eggs as possible for the lowest possible cost.

Battery hens are not OK. They suffer high levels of stress, are not given the opportunities to exercise and perform other natural behaviors, and their health suffers as a result.

I would never buy eggs laid by a battery hen. Primarily due to the inhumane conditions, and additionally because their eggs simply do not taste as good as free-range chicken eggs.

When talking about eggs laid by free-range chickens with access to quality feed and excellent living conditions, it’s perfectly ethical to eat those eggs.

There are even groups of vegans that agree it’s ethical to eat ‘cruelty-free’ eggs from hens kept in excellent conditions and backyard settings. They call themselves ‘veggans’, as some vegans strictly will not eat eggs.

RelatedWhy some vegans do not eat eggs from backyard chickens.

In Summary

Hopefully, I’ve helped to put your mind at ease if you were worrying about whether or not chicken eggs were abortions or if chicks were harmed when eggs are being produced.

Chicken eggs are not abortions, fertilized or not.

A hen’s reproductive system is very different from ours. They’re designed to produce eggs – almost daily for a lot of breeds – and something has to happen with those eggs.

Abortion is a deliberate procedure to terminate a pregnancy, this just isn’t the case with eggs.

It’s not the correct terminology, it’s not the right thing to say, and if you do see someone saying this they’re either trying to deter you from eating eggs or are just not educated on the topic.

Whatever your stance is on consuming eggs, there is no denying that they are tasty and incredibly nutritional, and hens will continue to lay them with the right environmental conditions.


Image credits – Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

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