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The Opposition of “Enriched” Cages for Egg-Laying Hens in the US and EU

July 10, 2010

Editor’s Note: Improvements such as these serve one species: human animals, who profit off the exploitation and murder of non-human animals; indeed, people who are reluctant to consume animals treated “inhumanely” are now given ethical approval to consume them due to the banning of “inhumane restrictions”. This is nothing but duplicitous rhetoric, implemented by the very people who kill. It is a fundamental impossibility to care for animals while killing and eating them.

And as long as people are given approval, especially by internationally-known animal “welfare” organizations, to eat meat, animals will continually be treated as commodities. Welfarism leads to exploitation and suffering in greater numbers.

People who embrace these “improvements” completely fail to acknowledge the very dangerous and unethical position of speciesism, the prejudicial regard of non-human species as inferior based on such faulty tenets. It is SPECIESISM that gives human animals APPROVAL to exploit, torture, and kill animals. Speciesism is what enables human animals to treat non-human animals with zero regard for their inherent right to live free from suffering and exploitation. Speciesism is what gives people the misguided and cruel belief that the commodification of animals is okay as long as humans define the processes of such HUMANE. Welfarism is NOT for the animals, it is for HUMANS.

Let’s use the example of hostages: if someone is taken hostage and immobilized with restraints, what happens if a hostage’s handcuffs are removed, yet the hostage is still murdered? In what universe would that person’s condition be considered humane? In this example, what would people do? Recommend that all hostages be allowed five minutes in the sun or absent restraints? A hostage is imprisoned and treated with NO regard and absent humane conditions regardless of mobilization or five minutes in the sun and especially considering murder.

Any animal used is abused regardless of cage size or “improvements”. You have to look beyond the rigid definition of animals as set by humans because it is that inaccurate perception that promotes this nonsense of welfarism, and NEW welfarism. And as long as humans, especially ARAs, champion welfarism, no animals will EVER be free OR have any rights; all humans succeed in doing is endorsing animal deaths by continually approving it as long as the animals can see the sky for five minutes each day.

Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money promoting “improvements” wealthy organizations should instead invest in vegan education. SR

Simulposted with United Poultry Concerns

In November, 2008, California voters supported Proposition 2 requiring that egg-laying hens in the state must be given enough room, effective 2015, to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs and wings, and be able to turn around without bumping into other hens. However, Proposition 2 did not require California egg producers to eliminate cages. Rather, the law reflects the European Union’s 2012 ban on barren cages for egg-laying hens, which permits the so-called “enriched” or furnished cage to substitute for the barren cage. In June, claiming compliance with the requirements of Proposition 2, egg producer, J.S. West & Co., opened the first “enriched” cage system for laying hens in the US, in Livingston, CA.

Responding to the egg industry’s move to substitute “enriched” cage systems for the barren cage system, in California and other states following suit, United Poultry Concerns, joined by 8 other farmed animal sanctuaries, has formulated the following Position Statement opposing “enriched” cages for laying hens. We are submitting this statement to the agribusiness community.

“Enriched” cages are being promoted (and in some places are already being used) by egg producers as a “humane” alternative to conventional, barren wire cages for egg-laying hens in North America and Europe. An “enriched” cage has a tiny perch and nest box, and maybe a little box of sand or wood shavings for the hens to scratch and dustbathe in, within the confines of their cage. The hens have “extra” space, about the size of a postcard, in a metal-plastic environment containing a clutter of tiny dollhouse items. The “enriched” cages are stacked 6 to 12 tiers high in industrial egg-production operations. Depending on size and design, each cage holds from 10 to 60 hens, and photos of some cage models show an increased use of siding enclosing the hens with their “furniture.”

As directors of animal sanctuaries that rehabilitate and work directly with chickens, including brown and white egg-laying hens, we oppose “enriched” cages and dispute industry claims that these cluttered little prisons meet their needs. Chickens, including egg-laying hens, are semi-migratory birds with innate needs and interests. They have beaks and claws for foraging, legs and wings for walking, running, and perching, and studies show (and we know) that chickens are disinclined to perch on a little stick two to three inches from the ground or floor as in these “enriched” cages.

Chickens maintain hygiene by dustbathing and preening. Industrial chicken houses are densely polluted with toxic gases and airborne debris – floating feathers, dander, and pathogens. Thousands of little “sandboxes” will increase the airborne debris in the caged environment. An increase in airborne dust and dirt, as when a hen is flinging sand with her beak and claws during her dustbath, then vigorously shaking out the particles from her feathers and skin following the bath, will increase respiratory and eye irritation.

And while laying hens need nest boxes, “enriched” cages will make meaningful inspections of the hens – already next to impossible – even harder. As one animal welfare director asks: “Will the nesting box be carefully inspected, daily? Will checks be made to see if a hen in there is in fact laying an egg, resting, escaping, or merely dying from cage layer fatigue? (Clare Druce, Farm Animal Voice Summer No. 162, Compassion in World Farming, 2006). Based on investigations and other documentation of what actually goes on in caged-hen operations, the answer is No.

The groups represented in this document have joined the animal protection community in the United States and Europe to oppose “enriched” cages for egg-laying hens. (The group known as “American Humane,” which supports “enriched” cages, is a bogus animal welfare group that fronts for agribusiness.) Realizing that no commercial confinement system can ever meet the complex behavioral and cognitive needs and interests of chickens, and even assuming that “enriched” cages inflict less total misery on hens than barren cages do, we condemn the “enriched” cage as a particularly cruel and egregiously inhumane and falsely represented housing system for laying hens. Nobody who knows chickens and cares about them can support their being confined in a cage in a building filled with cages. The cage system for egg-laying hens is inherently cruel and inhumane and needs to be eliminated completely.

For more information, including a photo of a typical “enriched” metal cage, see the HSUS Report: Welfare Issues with Furnished Cages for Egg-Laying Hens.

Organizations Endorsing This Position Statement:

* United Poultry Concerns (
* Animal Place (
* Chenoa Manor Animal Sanctuary (
* Chicken Run Rescue (
* Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary & Education Center, Inc. ( )
* Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center (
* Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary (
* Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary (
* Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (


4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2010 12:27 pm

    This is so damn true and what I have been argueing about for years, (animal welfare). Another good example is the so called PETA ‘victory’ related to how the chickens are killed for KFC in Canada. This gave a green light to some who presumed it was ok to eat from KFC as their killing methods are more ‘humane’.
    Abolition is the only way forward and to achieve this more people need to be shown the truth about the farming industry, and in turn resulting in more vegetarians and vegans.
    Thanks for this post everyone should read it.


  2. Nola Ross1 permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:29 pm

    I quit going to KFC a long time ago


  3. jessica j tippin permalink
    July 11, 2010 11:49 pm

    this is exactly why i am a vegetarian



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