Moments ago, Michigan passed into law a ban on the production and sale of eggs from chickens locked in cruel cages. This is a remarkable and historic moment in our work to end the cage confinement of farm animals. Michigan is a major Midwestern agriculture state — and one of our nation’s largest egg-producing states — and the fact that it is saying “no” to cages for egg-laying hens shows just how rapidly American views on the treatment of farm animals are evolving.
Chickens used for eggs are among the most abused animals on the planet. They’re typically locked in barren wire cages, and each bird has less space than the dimensions of an iPad on which to live her entire life. That’s why the Humane Society of the United States has made ending cage confinement a priority.
We have been working with lawmakers and corporations to move away from these antiquated practices, with great success. Michigan is the fourth state in just the past year where we’ve secured a law that prohibits the caging of hens. Last Election Day, California voters made history by passing Proposition 12. We followed up on that victory by passing nearly identical protections for hens in Oregon and Washington. The HSUS and our coalition partners have also helped convince more than 200 of the world’s leading food companies to require their egg producers to switch to cage-free production.
Consider this: in the mid-2000s, when we decided to make ending extreme confinement a central focus of our work, only about 3% of the U.S. egg industry was cage-free. Today, more than 20% of the industry is cage-free. We still have a long way to go, but the progress has been remarkable, especially when one considers the fact that every 1% increase represents more than three million birds. While cage-free doesn’t equate to cruelty-free, thanks to the headway we’re making, tens of millions of birds born every year will never know the misery of being locked in tiny cages for their entire lives.
The Michigan law will also require that hens be provided enrichments vital to their psychological and physical well-being, including scratching areas, perches, nest boxes and dust-bathing areas. The measure comes into effect at the end of 2024, when all eggs produced and all shell eggs sold in Michigan will have to come from cage-free environments.
We are grateful to those in Michigan who worked hard to advance this robust law, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her staff, conscientious members of the agriculture community, lawmakers from both parties, fellow national animal groups, and the state’s tremendous community of animal protection advocates and organizations. The progress in Michigan offers even more proof that the future for farm animals is cage-free, and you can rest assured we will continue to fight for the day when the scourge of cage confinement is erased for good.