Cage-Free Egg Production Facing More Challenges



Below are two news updates concerning cage-free production practices.  One is a new video an egg farm being challenged on the humaneness of cage-free, and the other is a short recap of a paper presented at the Egg Industry Forum last week noting the problems with perches damaging the keel bone of layers.  Egg farmers searching for compromises with the animal rights community are again handed disappointments while those of us continuing to support conventional cages are being vindicated for opposing any compromise.


A New Video Claiming Inhumane Conditions at Egg Farm


The animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) who has challenged the humaneness of cage-free egg production, has circulated a video that challenges the humane conditions of cage-free layers at a Morning Fresh Farms facility in Platteville, CO.  They produce eggs to be sold at Sprouts Farmers Markets (headquarters in Phoenix), known for their organic and natural products.

The video is claimed to have been filmed at the farm location in Platteville, Colorado, over the course of nine months, according to a Phoenix Business Journal report.

Sprouts issued a statement in response to the video which states in part "Animal welfare is of utmost importance to Sprouts. All of our egg suppliers are required to meet or exceed USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services Standards, and any cage-free supplier must also meet or exceed animal welfare standards such as Certified Humane certification criteria outlined by Humane Farm Animal Care, among other nationally recognized programs. The Morning Fresh Farms’ Platteville, Colo. farm supplies Certified Humane cage-free eggs under the brand names Rocky Mountain Eggs and Egg-Land’s Best only to our Colorado and New Mexico stores."


Perches for Layers Leads to Bone Damage

A new research study shows the majority of keel bone damage originates from collisions with perches inside the layer house. Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, discussed the results of a study conducted to analyze keel bone damage in a layer environment. Makagon, who spoke on April 19 at the Egg Industry Center Egg Industry Issues Forum in Columbus, Ohio, said the study utilized accelerometers and 3D imaging technology to study the force of the collisions and measure their effects on the keel bone.

The keel is an extension of the sternum that provides an anchor for the bird’s wing muscles and provides leverage for flight. As laying hens are being removed from a conventional cage environment, Makagon said, keel integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare. Damaged keels are associated with increased mortality, reduced egg production and egg quality, and keel damage is likely associated with pain for the animal.