Starting in January, 15 million egg-laying hens in California will receive more space to move around.
Typically, hens are kept in wire-mesh battery cages, which allow just 67 square inches of space for each hen (which translates to roughly the size of a shoebox—egregiously small for one bird).
Now farmers will switch to larger, taller colony cages. These larger cages will offer roughly 116 square inches of space to move around, so farmers can comply with the new law.
Some egg producers are even going beyond the new law’s requirement, and are setting up totally cage-free barns for the hens, and allowing the animals to move freely and fly to multiple perches on various levels.
“Proposition 2, which passed in 2008 by a landslide 63.5% of the vote, also covers gestating pigs and veal calves, but there are few pig and veal operations in the state, so the law’s biggest effect is on the hens. A separate law requires all out-of-state egg producers that sell to California (which gets about a third of its eggs from farmers outside the state) to comply with the same housing standards for hens.
California voters, to their credit, were ahead of the game in voting to better the welfare of California’s hens. Over time, that will lead to improvements for all 300 million egg-laying hens in the country.”
Although there is a still along way to go, in terms of truly providing a more comfortable space for hens to inhabit, at least progress is being made toward treating these animals humanely.
This is how change starts. With baby steps.
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Author: Yoli Ramazzina
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