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Are cage free eggs more ethical than regular eggs?

As people have become more concerned for the welfare of farm animals, new farm practices and terms have become increasingly familiar because of consumer demand. Free range, grass fed, cage free, cruelty free, in addition to organic among many other terms dot the food landscape. What do these terms all mean? More importantly, do these terms give us a sense of humane, more ethical treatment that is not true?

What happens if practices that we think are better for the animals are actually worse? Is there an ethical way to consume animals or animal products? If so, how do we determine it? Below are a few articles about the topic of cage free eggs.

Eggs That Clear the Cages, but Maybe Not the Conscience

“Aviary-raised hens had less foot damage but dirtier feathers. One of the main causes of death among hens, hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium levels, was most prevalent in aviaries.

“Conditions for workers and the environment were also worse. Ammonia concentrations, dust levels and particulate matter emissions were higher in aviaries than in conventional battery-cage systems.”

The Insanely Complicated Logistics of Cage-Free Eggs for All

“As it turns out, going cage-free requires much more planning, money, and logistical engineering than the seemingly simple notion of setting some hens free would suggest. Ironically, this massive supply chain overhaul stems from consumer demand to return to the egg-producing practices of our pre-industrial past, but without undoing all the positive benefits of scale, affordability, and safety that were achieved through industrialization. It actually took farmers a really long time to figure out how to put the bird in the cage—and it’s going to take a while to figure out how to get it back out.”

Are Cage-Free Eggs All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

“Giving hens the simple ability to move around prevents many of the worst health problems associated with battery cages, Shapiro says, by strengthening brittle bones and allowing them to act on their natural instincts to roost and forage.

“But in these large, industrial aviaries, the birds “don’t typically go outside,” says Shapiro. And letting a flock of birds roam within a closed, confined aviary presents its own concerns. A three-year study produced by a consortium of egg providers, academics, and advocacy groups found that aviaries had nearly twice the death rate of caged systems. Most of the difference had to do with aggression between the birds and outbreaks of cannibalism.”


Massachusetts Voters Could Have Egg on Their Faces

“But laws also must also ensure that livestock operations can continue to operate. Imposing needless, costly, counterproductive, and unconstitutional burdens on our nation’s livestock farmers will harm consumers, farmers, and animals alike.”

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