Putting the Chicken Before the Egg
Good news for the nation's chickens: United Egg Producers (UEP), a group that represents egg farmers, will work with animal advocates to seek a federal law requiring larger cages and better treatment for egg-laying hens.
In addition to increasing the birds' required pen size to a minimum of 124 square inches, the proposed federal standards would provide hens with an "enriched housing system" that would include perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas. UEP and the Humane Society will also work to make euthanasia more humane and to prohibit the practice of forced molting, in which food and water are withheld to extend the laying cycle.
If a federal law were passed, the changes would be phased in over the next 18 years. In the meantime, California egg farmers are already working to comply with a 2008 state ballot measure that requires all confined hens to be able to stand up, turn around, and stretch their wings by 2015.