Posts Tagged ‘humane’

Support Legislation in Favor of Humane Living Conditions for Laying Hens

Help Improve the Lives of Laying Hens

Congress is now considering legislation (H.R. 3798) that would improve the lives of hundreds of millions of egg-laying hens in our country—and you can help! The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 would phase-in significantly more space plus environmental enrichments for these birds, as well as ban starvation molting and give consumers more information about production methods right on the egg carton (e.g., labeling “eggs from caged hens” and “eggs from cage-free hens”).

Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative, urging co-sponsorship of the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, (H.R. 3798). Then, make a brief, polite call to your two U.S. senators to support this legislation as well. Look up your legislators’ phone numbers here.

Please also use the form below to send a follow-up note to your federal legislators urging support for H.R. 3798. We encourage you to add your own thoughts or comments about this legislation in the editable portion, so your federal legislators know how important this issue is to you personally.

Taken from the Humane Society’s website.

FACT Funding Local Farmers

Food Act Concerns Trust has a  Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project that will provide small grants, of up to $1500, to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. FACT will award grants for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised.

FACT’s Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project is designed to empower farmers to positively impact farm animal welfare. Farmers often want to make on-farm changes to give their animals a better life, but sometimes need financial assistance to make it happen. FACT recognizes that farmers have the technical expertise to make farms more humane, and can effectively use small grants to make these changes.

To learn more, go to the Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project webpage. That can be found here: The application and application guidelines can be found online. Deadline for applying is April 1, 2012.


Lisa Isenhart
Humane Farming Program Manager
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)

Humane Society and UEP to collaborate for poultry welfare

This letter is from the Human Society – you can find a copy on the Humane Society’s website here. You can contact your US senators/representatives to urge passage of this legislation. See the link at the bottom of the message.

July 7, 2011

I am excited to announce a historic agreement that The Humane Society of the United States reached this morning with the United Egg Producers, which could result in a complete makeover of the U.S. egg industry and improve the treatment of the 280 million laying hens used each year in U.S. egg production. Thanks to your support over the years, through our state ballot initiatives and legislative and corporate campaigns, we now have a new pathway forward to ban barren battery cages and phase in more humane standards nationwide.

The HSUS and UEP have agreed to work together to advocate for federal legislation that would:

  • Require a moratorium at the end of 2011 on new construction of unenrichable battery cages — small, cramped, cages that nearly immobilize more than 90 percent of laying hens today — and the nationwide elimination of barren battery cages through a phase-out period;
  • Require phased in construction of new hen housing systems that provide hens nearly double the amount of space they’re currently provided;
  • Require environmental enrichments so birds can engage in important natural behaviors currently denied to them in barren cages, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas;
  • Mandate labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as “eggs from caged hens” or “eggs from cage-free hens”;
  • Prohibit forced molting through starvation — an inhumane practice that 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 manipulate the laying cycle;
  • Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses — a common problem in the industry that is harmful to both hens and egg industry workers;
  • Require standards for euthanasia of hens; and
  • Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these above requirements.

If enacted, this would be the first federal law relating to chickens used for food, as well as the first federal law relating to the on-farm treatment of any species of farm animal.

Some of the provisions would be implemented nearly immediately after enactment, such as those relating to forced molting, ammonia, and euthanasia, and others after just a few years, including labeling and the requirement that all birds will have to have at least 67 square inches of space each. (Currently, approximately 50 million laying hens are confined to only 48 square inches each.) The bill would require that all egg producers increase space per bird in a tiered phase-in, resulting in a final number, within 15 years for nearly all producers, of at minimum, 124-144 square inches of space each, along with the other improvements noted above.

In order to protect Proposition 2 (a landmark laying hen welfare initiative passed in California in 2008 that many of you worked on), all California egg producers — with nearly 20 million laying hens — would be required to eliminate barren battery cages by 2015 (the date Prop 2 goes into effect), and provide all hens with environmental enrichments, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas. This will also apply to the sale of all eggs and egg products in California. And this agreement to pass comprehensive federal legislation on hen welfare puts a hold on planned ballot measures related to laying hen welfare in both Washington and Oregon.

Passing this federal bill would be a historic improvement for hundreds of millions of animals per year. We are grateful to all of our volunteers, supporters, and others who have helped to make the cage confinement of egg-laying hens a national issue, and we will keep you informed as we make progress on this issue. I hope you will contact your U.S. senators and representative today and urge them to support this federal legislation to end barren battery cage confinement and provide more humane standards for laying hens.

wayne pacelle
Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

© 2011 The Humane Society of the United States | All rights reserved
2100 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20037 | 202-452-1100 |

Egg Carton Labels: What’s in a Name?

Free range. Organic. Cage Free. Omega-3. Farm Fresh. All Natural.

The labels on egg cartons are sometimes not all they’re cracked up to be. What do all these terms mean? If you don’t have your own chickens, how can you know you’re getting eggs from humanely treated hens?

A label you won’t see is battery. About 98% of the eggs produced in North America are from battery hens, who “live” in horrific conditions: allotted a space no bigger than their bodies in tight quarters with other hens, they are force-molted through starvation to keep up egg production. Their beaks are trimmed with a hot wire to prevent pecking. The birds are handled with no concern for their lives or safety, and their bones are broken in handling. Many live their lives not even able to flap their wings.  They die from starvation if they get stuck in their cages, and often dead hens are not discovered and remain in the cage until after they have decomposed.  To learn more about the conditions in battery-cage facilities, click here or here.

So, what’s a better option, and what do all those labels on the more expensive eggs mean anyway?

Here’s the skinny on all the labels. Truthfully, many don’t hold a lot of meaning in terms of animal welfare, so investigate before you buy.

Find a pdf summary of this information in table format here: Egg Carton Labels.

Farm fresh: This term is largely meaningless, and hens are battery kept.

All natural: This term is largely meaningless, and hens are battery kept.

Omega-3 Enhanced: This means the chickens were fed large amounts of food containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, which are expressed in the egg. The hens are mostly battery-cage hens. A better alternative to omega-3 enhanced eggs is to simply eat more foods with these fats, since eggs are not a great source.

Cage-Free or Free-Run: These terms apply to chickens who are not kept in battery cages. They live in henhouses with free access to the enclosed space but do not get outdoors. They are force-molted and treated like battery hens. These facilities are not inspected to assure conditions are as advertised.

Free-Range: These hens are house in conditions similar to those in cage-free or free-run environments, with the exception that they have access to the outdoors. Sometimes this consists of a small door on the henhouse that may or may not be kept open. These facilities are not inspected to assure conditions are as advertised.

Pasteurized: These eggs have been processed to eliminate salmonella bacteria. They have been heated very quickly to a very high temperature to kill bacteria and present less of a risk if eaten raw.

Certified Organic: These hens get an organic diet and have access to the outdoors and vegetation. Their beaks may be trimmed and they may be force molted. Organic eggs must be certified by inspectors. However, the food advocacy group Cornucopia Institute recently found that an “organic” egg-production facilities are using battery production methods. Read their report here.

Animal Welfare Approved: These hens are raised humanely indoors and are cage free. They are not force molted, and beak trimming is very limited. This is the highest standard available, but these eggs are not sold in stores. They are inspected by the Animal Welfare Institute. Find more information here.

American Humane Certified: These birds have more room than battery-cage hens (the size of a piece of legal-sized paper) and they are not force molted, but their beaks may still be trimmed, and studies show that this method of caging is still detrimental to health. These facilities are inspected by a third-party verifying agency.

United Egg Producers Certified: This means the hens have access to fresh food and water. They may be battery kept and force molted, and their beaks may be trimmed. More info on UEP here.

Pastured: The hens that lay these eggs are kept on pasture (or in backyards) and are not confined. They have access to bugs, worms, and other natural foods, and they also eat grains. For more information on pastured eggs, click here. These eggs have more omega-3 fatty acids and higher concentrations of certain vitamins.

As you buy eggs, be aware that commercial egg producers slaughter all male chicks (50% of the hatch) shortly after they hatch. Male chicks are of no use to the egg industry.

So, there you have it. If you don’t have your own chickens, you can make a wiser decision about where your eggs come from.


The Humane Society of the United States. “Egg Carton Labels.” The Humane Society of the United States. Posted Nov. 9, 2009.

Copley, Jennifer. “Egg Labels–Free Range, Organic, and Omega-3.” Suite Posted Jan. 8 2010.

Butler, Kiera. “Is Your Favorite Organic Egg Brand a Factory Farm in Disguise?” Posted Oct. 4, 2010.

Certified Humane: The hens live in barns, uncaged, and they can do normal chicken things like dusting. They are not starved to force a molt but their beaks may be trimmed.  These facilities are inspected