Breaking news: Utah becomes eighth state to prohibit cages for egg-laying hens

By on March 18, 2021 with 13 Comments

Utah has just passed a law prohibiting the confinement of egg-laying hens in tiny wire enclosures known as “battery cages,” becoming the eighth U.S. state to do so.

Just moments ago, Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill—which the state’s legislature passed earlier this month—marking another major milestone in our campaign to move all egg-laying hens out of cages and into cage-free housing. The new law mandates cage-free conditions and more space for each bird. It also requires enrichments that are vital to the hens’ psychological and physical well-being, including perches, nest boxes, and areas designed for scratching and dust-bathing.

Utah joins a growing list of states where lawmakers and voters, regardless of political affiliation, have prohibited battery cages. This includes Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island and Colorado.

This is a particularly exciting moment for us: the Humane Society of the United States has been working relentlessly–and strategically–to transform how egg-laying hens, more than 300 million each year, are raised in this country. We have focused on confinement because since the advent of battery cages decades ago, hundreds of millions of hens have been suffering in these tiny, barren cages so small that they can’t even spread or flap their wings.

Given the scale of this problem, this has been an uphill battle, but we have pressed on with your support. As a result, today we are in the midst of a cage-free revolution. More and more, consumers are demanding an egg industry shift to cage-free, lawmakers are making policy to end cage confinement, and corporations and egg producers are moving to change their practices and embrace cage-free housing.

When we started our cage-free campaign in 2005, the percentage of hens in cage-free environments was in the low single digits. Now, almost 30% of the egg industry is cage-free, representing nearly 100 million hens per year who otherwise would have been caged. This may be the greatest reduction of farm animal suffering in U.S. history.

We recognize that we still have a long way to go and that moving to cage-free systems doesn’t address all animal protection concerns, including partial beak amputation and the routine killing of day-old male chicks. But the freedom of movement and the mandated enrichments do improve the hens’ quality of life significantly.

We are deeply grateful to all the Utah legislators from both parties who voted for the measure ending cage confinement. Some of these lawmakers worked tirelessly to bring together a diverse array of stakeholders to support the legislation. We’re also appreciative of those in the egg industry who worked with us over the past year to find common ground. These egg producers are sincerely working to transform their industry and animal husbandry practices in order to meet consumer expectations. We’re proud of this collaboration, and we’ll never stop working with unconventional allies to make major strides for animals.

This is critical work, and it’s far from over, but we are thrilled about how far we have come. Let’s take a moment to celebrate today’s victory in Utah, even as we pledge to keep working with lawmakers and pressuring corporations until no chicken is ever confined in a cage.

Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya tenemos que aprender a respetar la vida de los animales no solo mientras nos son útiles los animalitos tenemos que respetar su vida

  2. Linda says:

    Yay !!!!

  3. Helen says:

    This is good news. Can we pass that law in 20-25 more states? Then work on making it all 50 ?or more if we add more states in the future.

  4. Michele Obrien says:

    Great news

  5. Emily Kliemann says:

    Wonderful news!!! Finally some progress

  6. D'jamin Bartlett says:

    The practice of Killing day old male chickens is barbaric. Which is why I won’t eat eggs. Stop the torture. I have no Respect for the Farming Industry.

  7. Dave Ramdeen says:

    These people are angels. Hopefully one day all animals will live in a cage free world and we are not eating them.
    A society is judged by its treatment of its animals.

  8. Chris Penn says:

    You don’t mention a ‘by’ date. I’m guessing it’s not immediately.

  9. Cathy says:

    Thank You!
    May this fight continue
    Stop All beak breakages and Stop killing Male Chicken’s (Rooster’s) how CRUEL!. Msy tye Fight March Onward and Upward.

  10. Deb Victoria says:

    Thank you Utah!! It so past time that every state start treating this animals humanly. Yay! Yay!

  11. Samantha Marie Spitz says:

    So happy!!!

  12. Kelly Jostad says:

    Oh I’m crying. This is such good news. Thank you humane society and every one else who made this wonderful thing happen for these chickens in Utah.

    I wish I could do more for the animal rights and welfare movement. It seems like a losing battle, trying to get people to understand how their food choices affect other species (chickens, cows, pigs) in horrible ways. Nobody seems to want to hear that all these animals are individuals who also have a will to live. They want to be with others of their own kind, feeling sunshine , grass, wind. And they each want to love and be loved. Our species is so selfish, thinking that all these other species are on this planet just to be exploited by us.
    Thank you humane society for your hard work on getting this law passed to protect these sweet birds who cannot protect themselves.

  13. Lisa M Shinn says:

    ALL states should do this!!! So little humane in humanity……this is an excellent 1st step!

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