Historic Agreement Reached About Egg-laying Hens

caged hens

Breaking news:

“The HSUS and The UEP reached an historic agreement whereby both organizations will support—and work together toward enactment of—federal legislation to afford certain protections to all U.S. egg laying hens. If passed, the federal legislation would:

  • Eliminate new construction of barren battery cages, and replace the existing cages, through a phase-in, with new “enriched colony cage” housing systems that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they’re currently allotted.
  • Require that these new cages provide environmental enrichments that will allow hens to engage in important natural behaviors, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas.
  • Mandate labeling on all egg cartons to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from cage-free hens” or “eggs from free-range hens.”
  • Prohibit forced molting through starvation, which involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to manipulate the laying cycle.
  • Mandate euthanasia standards for spent hens.
  • Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses.
  • Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.”

Read more here >>

Clearly, this is significant change that will improve the lives of many egg-laying hens. The new labels alone are an improvement because it gives consumers more accurate information and it allows them to make better-informed choices. As HSUS says:

 This law, if enacted, would represent the first time that any species of animal is provided with federal protection from abuse while on factory farms, the first federal farm animal protection law in more than 30 years, and the first time that chickens used in food production are provided any federal protections at all.”

I will support the law and encourage others to support it. However, there are still plenty of good reasons to abstain from eating eggs:

  • The new system is being “phased in” which means that currently, eggs are still coming from battery cages. We don’t know how long this phase-in will take or if it will even actually happen so if you care about animal welfare but you want to eat eggs, then it’s important to boycott all commercial eggs until the new system is in place.
  • These improvements are far from ideal. The ideal farm that most nonvegans imagine doesn’t keep hens inside cages at all!
  • The proposed laws don’t address many other issues related to egg-production animal cruelty
  • Eggs are still full of cholesterol.
  • The risk of salmonella will decrease when the improvements in hen welfare take place, but eggs will likely continue to present a high risk of salmonella poisoning to consumers.
  • Lastly, eggs are not vegan. If you wouldn’t climb up and steal eggs from a robin’s nest or a crow, then why take them from chickens?

Here are some resources for how to ditch eggs from your diet:

6 Responses to Historic Agreement Reached About Egg-laying Hens

  1. Wow this would be really amazing for chickens! But ya, like you said still not ideal. But seeing the birds with feathers, and with space in between them is a significant improvement. Here’s to hoping this gets passed!

  2. While I would be thrilled for the chickens to have better conditions, it will not address what happens to the thousands and thousands of baby boy chicks that are killed in the most brutal ways just after hatching: http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html

    Progress is progress and I’m very happy about that but I hope it doesn’t slowdown or make less urgent the ultimate changes that need to be made.

  3. this puffery on the part of HSUS is absurd but predictable. First, notice that nothing has happened. and second, “welfarist” “improvements” only serve to preserve the status quo. Now, I guess we can expect Whole Foods to roll out a new “happy meat” and “happy chickens” campaign to dupe the public into buying “products” from exploited animals.

    This is not progress.

  4. I mean, killing animals is killing animals. Nothing humane about exploitation and slaughter.

  5. Anything that reduces suffering is progress. I agree that there is still a long way to go, but I’m not one of the “all or nothing” crowd. I applaud this change in the conditions that hens will have to endure. The majority of people are not going to stop eating eggs any time soon, so I’m glad of any help given to all those chickens who are inexorably destined to remain slaves.

  6. This webcam shows this type of cage arrangement. The cages in this webcam appear larger than the photo in the post
    http://www.jswest.com/index.php/component/content/article/118

    The comments to the webcam are dominated by little fights over the usual issues. People argue that this is bad as if producers start showing their conditions, people will not feel bad about buying their product.

    I think the webcams are a step in the right direction. At least this type of effort wakes people up to why the competing chicken companies don’t have webcams. The next logical step might be because the competition would lose money if they had webcams, should their products be consumed at all even if they are cheap. Perhaps the next conclusion would be to save the quasi-ethical products for people on the fence and eliminate consuming all animal products.

    I challenge the assumption that this kind of marketing makes mega chicken companies look good. The average person can’t stomach a PETA video, but this webcam might pique interest in why other farms don’t push a video feed.

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