California is the first state to require that all whole eggs sold in California come from hens that are able to stand up, extend their limbs, and spread their wings without touching either one another or the sides of the cage.
In Ohio, secret negotiations between farmers and the Humane Society of the United States resulted in an agreement to bar new construction of egg farms that pack birds in cages, and to phase out the tight caging of pregnant sows within 15 years and of veal calves by 2017.
Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, the United Egg Producers, a national industry organization, have joined with the U.S. Humane Society to back legislation in Congress that would:
- require the nationwide elimination of battery cages
- require that birds be able to engage in natural behaviors currently denied to them in barren cages, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas
- require labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method of egg production, such as “eggs from caged hens” or “eggs from cage-free hens”
- prohibit forced molting through starvation–an inhumane practice which is inflicted on tens of millions of hens each year and which involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to shock their bodies into another laying cycle
- prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses and require standards for euthanasia practices
- prohibit the sale of all eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.
Many of those provisions would be implemented over time, but passage of such legislation would be a major victory for animal rights.