Buying eggs is no yolk; the choices are seemingly limitless. Cage free, organic, vegetarian fed, brown, free range: how’s a consumer to choose? As more documentaries spew horror stories about the living conditions of America’s farm animals, perhaps consumers should consider purchasing their eggs from a cage free egg producer.
But why? Laying hens in traditional mass-producing farms live in deplorable conditions. Typically they share a small, cramped cage with 5-7 other hens where it proves impossible to stretch out their limbs. They often suffer friction injuries from rubbing up against the wire of the cage.
The benefits of buying from a cage free egg producer are numerous. For just a few more cents per egg, farmers can provide hens with humane living conditions. Better living conditions means happier hens, and happier hens lay healthier eggs.
• Food Safety: Caged hens are often infected with Salmonella, which then passes into their eggs and to humans. In fact, a caged hen is 25 times more likely to contact the infection than her free-range friends. Salmonella is the most common food-borne illness in the United States and Canada, leading to hospitalizations and even death.
• High Stress: Laying hens that are kept in small, crowded cages are found to be under considerably more stress than cage-free hens. Their level of stress makes them more susceptible to disease and infection.
• Small Flocks: A caged flock in the U.S. usually contains 75,000 to 100,000 hens, while the average size of a cage-free flock is around 25,000. In these bigger, denser flocks, disease can spread rapidly. Farms with more than 100,000 birds are four times more likely to have their hens test positive for Salmonella.
How can consumers make a difference? Dollars speak! Whether buying eggs or a product made with eggs, consumers have a choice. Whenever possible, buy cage-free eggs. Encourage others to do the same. Just a few extra dollars can end the unnecessary suffering of millions of hens.
At Chino Valley Ranchers, we are a certified cage free egg producer. We take the health of our laying hens seriously and treat them as they should be treated: with care and respect. If you have any questions about our practices or eggs, contact us today!