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Join the Fight for a Cage-Free Washington

Join the Fight for a Cage-Free Washington

Confined with the amount of space about the size of a piece of notebook paper to live in for their entire lives, the existence of egg-laying hens is nothing short of miserable. While many consider this extreme confinement to be inhumane, it’s the sad reality for about 6 million egg-laying hens in Washington state.

Washingtonians for Humane Farms, a coalition of groups with backgrounds in animal welfare, food safety, the environment and farming, is currently gathering signatures to put an initiative on the state ballot that would implement a cage-free system that allows hens enough room to turn around and stretch freely with the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which has been given the number I-1130. 

However, another bill, SB 5487, has already been introduced by Sen. Mark Schoesler and just passed the Washington House of Representatives. Under this bill, egg producers would be required to phase out current cages to slightly bigger cages by 2026. Guidelines will be based on recommendations made by the United Egg Producers (UEP), which happily promotes extreme confinement.

Numerous investigations of UEP approved farms have shown the horrors of extreme confinement, including one by Mercy for Animals at Quality of Egg New England. The footage is sickening and may be enough to turn someone off of eggs forever, but again, they were meeting “standards.”

“It is cruel and inhumane to cram animals into cages so small that they can barely move,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. “These factory farms put so many at risk – animals, consumers, neighbors, and family farmers.  There is an alternative, cage-free production, and this ballot measure allows us to move in that direction in an extended but set time frame.”

I-1130, by contrast, would implement changes by 2018 and would require all eggs produced in the state and elsewhere to meet to the required production restrictions with the exception of liquid or dried egg products.

“Like all animals, farm animals have feelings and they deserve to be protected from cruelty,” said Gene Baur, President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary.

Even if SB 5487 does pass, they will continue to gather more than 300,000 signatures by July to bring this issue to voters.  

If you’re a washington resident, send a letter to your representatives asking them not to support SB 5487. Visit the Washingtonians for Humane Farms for more information.

Note: Even with more space and freedom to move commercial egg production will never be truly humane. Despite having “certified humane” programs and labels, hens at battery, cage-free and free-range farms come from hatcheries, where after chicks are sexed all of the males are destroyed. Some of them get tossed in the trash to be crushed and suffocated by each other, while others are ground up alive. Additionally, they all undergo standard practices of debeaking and force molting, where they’re starved for about two weeks to trick their bodies into starting another egg laying cycle only to be killed at a fraction of their lifespan because they are no longer useful. 

Related Stories: 

Washingtonians Call For Anti-Battery Cage Measure

The Truth Behind the Cage-Free Label

Ground Up Alive: Baby Chicks Suffer

Chickens Feel Empathy, Why Can’t We?

 

 

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo Credit: Twyla Francois/CETFA.

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118 comments

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8:48AM PDT on May 26, 2011

:(

5:17AM PDT on May 26, 2011

by 2026?

10:46AM PDT on May 3, 2011

Go Vegan! :D

8:31AM PDT on May 2, 2011

I live in the UK and because my, mainly rescued ex-battery hens are fed on our vegetarian left-overs as well as what they scavenge from my garden, I cannot register my flock (my vet also advises against regiastration) with DEFRA. As we are not registered I cannot put a sign up on my gate to sell my eggs and can only sell them to friends & aquaintances. BUT all my hens can express their natural behaviours, get medical care when ill and even when in their runs have more than the minimum space required to be Free-range.

If you eat eggs you really should seek out small local flocks where you can see how the birds are kept. In huge commercial free -range systems of thousands of birds it's too easy for the sick bird to be ignored and for mite infestations etc to get out of hand.That said, I hope all the Care2 Washingtonians support I-1130.

Claudia C - that EU 2012 law is only to ban the barren battery cage & replace it with the "enriched cage". Better than before, but still only the start of the battle. We have to keep pushing to make more supermarkets go for the free-range egg and keep out eggs from intensive systems elswhere in the world e.g. China & even India who export egg products to the EU.

3:21AM PDT on May 2, 2011

Armand F., that's just plain crazy about not being able to donate the eggs. I can only "guess" that the reason could be that if you did that, they can't guarantee the freshness, so they COULD be held liable if someone ate the eggs and got sick. I don't have chickens of my own (wish I could, but my dogs would kill them and I live in a rural area where there are many predators, so keeping them in a "hen house" would be absolutely necessary for protection). I do donate vegetables to my local foodbank, and when I do, they put them outside in cardboard boxes on shelves so people can take what they want. The food that goes into food baskets is all canned goods and dry stuff, like spaghetti. They do put perishables in them, but like you said, they're donated by stores and are packaged and labeled. It's a shame, but I can see the reason. Now, just thinking, my food bank always wants used plastic grocery bags (for the bread counters) and sometimes asks for egg cartons, so they MUST be needing them for bulk eggs that are donated, right? As I said, I live in Washington, so maybe the laws are different.

12:24PM PDT on May 1, 2011

I live in a rural area of North Texas and we raise our own chickens to sell the eggs at the local flea market. All of our birds are free-range, the eggs are nest laid, organic fed, and totally cage free. The production we get from these hens is approximately 90% daily. The chickens get the opportunity to take "dirt baths" at will and are much more content for the living conditions we adhere to for them. We so not charge an extravagant amount for the eggs we sell and our customers are grateful to have the chance to buy "country eggs" from us. This is just a small business venture which provides us a small income to add to our disability income so it is more to enjoy our birds than for profit. We enjoy the interaction we observe within our flocks and enjoy our birds daily. If more people sought out small flock, free range, family raised eggs the markets would indeed change to fit the competition. That is just the nature of business. The other major change that has to be made is that private, family raised eggs must be allowed to be donated to food pantries for those less fortunate to enjoy. In Texas if the eggs are not "store-bought" they can not be donated, that is just wrong and very selfish on the part of our legislature.

9:50AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Unfortunately I don't live in Wash.but in Ohio, a large egg producing state. Bravo for Italy!

3:52AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

I live in Washington and am very well aware of both of these bills. I've endorsed the appropriate one, which is not to simply increase the size of the cage. The wording is somewhat deceptive, so it's important that people read it carefully.

Also, the prevelance of such farms is not as great as one might think. I've lived in this state my entire life, and for the last 40 years, in rural areas, travelled all over the state in farming areas, and most places are not as described. Yes, they do exist and we should work to abolish them completely, but remember, it's not a good idea to "throw the baby out with the bathwater". By that I mean that there are many poultry farms where the hens are free-ranging, with shelter provided but the hens can come and go at will. It takes a bit of time and doing one's homework/research to seek them out. Within 15 minutes of my house are three small "family-operated" farms, where they have a dozen or so chickens and sell eggs.

Sooner or later, if enough people seek these places out, the grocery stores will see a reduction in sales of the cheap eggs obtained from farms such as these bills are addressing. When my neighbors don't have eggs to sell, I can find the same thing in the store, just takes a bit of time to read the labels to weed out the bad places from the good. They're usually only a few cents more.

9:49AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Anything for a buck huh.

7:07PM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

ty

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