Breaking news: Oregon governor signs law ending cage confinement for egg-laying hens

By on August 12, 2019 with 8 Comments

We have just secured another monumental win for hens confined in tiny cages in the egg industry. Moments ago, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed legislation championed by the HSUS to require all eggs produced or sold in her state to come from cage-free facilities.

With Oregon’s new law, the entire West Coast region of the United States now has the strongest laws in the world for egg-laying hens. The Oregon measure will go into effect at the end of 2023, and it is nearly identical to our victory in Washington state, which I told you about in May.

Last year, of course, Californians voted overwhelmingly for Proposition 12, which passed on Election Day and also mandated an elimination of cages.

There are 20 million birds raised within these three states, including four million in Oregon. And because these laws cover all eggs sold within the states and there are about 50 million people who live within them, we estimate that the laws will help an additional tens of millions more hens every year (per capita egg consumption equates to roughly one hen for every consumer). Very few efforts in the long history of the animal protection movement have benefited so many animals.

Most hens used in egg production are confined in barren wire cages and each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper, preventing her from even extending her wings. Chickens are inquisitive, active animals and life inside a cage is one of frustration and deprivation.

While cage-free doesn’t equate to “cruelty-free,” the laws in Oregon, Washington and California greatly improve conditions for egg laying hens by prohibiting cages, giving each bird more space and requiring enrichments that are key to their well-being, including perches, nests, as well as scratching and dust-bathing areas.

In addition to the West Coast victories, the HSUS has led successful legislative and ballot efforts to reduce the suffering of hens in the Midwest (Michigan, Ohio) and the Northeast (Massachusetts, Rhode Island).

These victories, and the work we have done with the world’s largest food corporations to get rid of cruel cages from their supply chains, indicate the emergence of a new normal in the egg industry. An increasing acceptance that the industry’s future no longer involves cages has taken hold.

As we did in Washington, the HSUS worked in Oregon with forward-thinking members of the agricultural community, other top animal protection groups (including the Oregon Humane Society), and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Special thanks are due to Senator Michael Demrow for his leadership, as well as to House champions like Representatives Courtney Neron and Dan Rayfield.

While we don’t shy away from a fight (as Prop 12’s historic campaign showed!), we’ve found that collaboration often results in the strongest, longest-lasting change for animals.

Congratulations to all my colleagues who campaigned for this law and all of those in the animal protection community who fought for years to secure the victories that led us to this momentous day. We look forward to continuing to charge ahead with you in our work to ban the cage confinement of farm animals across the United States and around the world.

Farm Animals

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  1. Sally Palmer says:

    Awesome! So much heart and work has gone into this. This makes an important difference in reducing the suffering of factory farm animals. Thank you, Kitty, for the good news. Shared💚👏💚👏

  2. Michele Jankelow says:

    Super wonderful work HSUS! Thank you!
    Thank you to Gov Brown for the courage, respect and dignity she has made possible for so many egg laying hens!

  3. ranjana says:

    What is the per bird area afforded in the WA law?

  4. Giselle says:

    This is definitely a step in the right direction. I still can’t believe we allowed this practice to continue for as long as we did. It’s absolute insanity that these birds are not being treated as living breathing animals, but instead are being confined for the entirety of their lives and treated as egg laying automatons. Absolutely disgusting. Personally I think egg companies who treat their birds this way should be dismantled.

  5. Martha Hall says:

    My state Fish and Wildlife Department, just killed the fourth wolf pack for the same rancher, owner of the Diamond M Ranch. Three were successfully breeding packs. Now 26 wolves have been killed for this rancher, all shot from helicopters, including the puppies. HSUS has an employee who sits on our state’s Wolf Advisory Group and he has never opposed killing wolves and wolf packs for this rancher. In 2016 when another pack was killed, he signed a press release saying wolves have to be killed to get social acceptance. No science supports this theory and this rancher certainly has not accepted wolves. The 80,000 acres of public land he leases from the USFS now has no wolves – again. Wolves are listed as an endangered species by our state. In 2012 the first pack was killed for this ranch,
    the Wedge Pack, then in 2016 the Profanity Peak Pack, and now the OPT Pack,
    all success packs with puppies. A non-breeding pack was also killed for him, The Sherman Pack. Please ask the HSUS person who works in my state to get off the Wolf Advisory Group so we can get someone who will stand up for wolves. He also fails to meet with members to explain his position or to hear our positions.

  6. Judy Clark says:

    I don’t know what state you are in or what kind of livestock is on the Diamond Ranch, but I am sick and tired of my taxes spent slaughtering wildlife into oblivion for special interests. There needs to be a balance – these ranchers should not be allowed to kill everything that gets in their way on land that belongs to the public – these wolves are keystone species in an ecosystem that falls apart without them. It doesn’t matter if ranchers are are paying to rent the land, (and I will bet that they aren’t, from the recent clashes with ranchers in Nevada who owed millions to the government!)
    Ranchers that slaughter everything else into oblivion – prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, bear, birds – should learn from Australian farmers who give back 25% of their crops and crop land to kangaroos because they belong on the land too.

  7. Judy Clark says:

    The battery cage ban in Oregon is a victory a long time in coming – the fact that it will be allowed to go on for another 4 years is sad, but hopefully it will afford plenty of time to switch over to something in this industry that doesn’t involve cruelty. Thank you governor Brown.

  8. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya no podemos permitir mas violencia hacia los animalitos es urgente que nos unamos para acabar con esta crueldad

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