The National Association of Egg Farmers is shouting support for the House version Farm Bill which includes an amendment that seeks to uphold the U.S. Constitution commerce clause. The commerce clause says Congress is to regulate exchange among the states.
Certain states have been implementing laws regulating how eggs are produced outside the state and then imported into that state. Specifically, they are pressing for removing cages for egg-laying hens.
While those states claim they are doing it for the welfare of the chicken and the quality of the egg, the National Association of Egg Farmers say they need to ask the farmers. Farmers today have moved to cages for welfare considerations and for egg quality improvements.
“Let’s begin with the welfare of the chicken. The term ‘pecking order’ is the term applied to chickens establishing dominance. Research has shown higher mortality among cage-free chickens. So more chickens together means more pecking,” the National Association of Egg Farmers said in a statement. “In cages, that is reduced to a much smaller number. Cage-free systems have resulted in more broken breast bones. Forcing chickens into production systems that increase bone breakage is inhumane.”
The association also points out there are more external parasites in cage-free farms, specifically red mites. Eighty-three percent of European cage-free egg farms are already infested with poultry red mites. All 27 member nations in the EU are about 40 percent cage-free compared to 16 percent in the U.S. The egg association says subjecting poultry to parasites is inhumane.
“Currently, California is struggling with a major poultry disease (Virulent Newcastle Disease) with more than 40 outbreaks in backyard poultry that are cage-free. Once discovered, these chickens have to be destroyed. Forcing chickens into production systems where they contract poultry diseases is inhumane,” the egg farmers continued.
In October 2017, the FOOD SAFETY-The US Animal Health Association reported: “Ascarids (round worms) are increasingly being found in cage-free operations with the concern being the possibility of a consumer finding an egg with a roundworm contained inside. Most all cage-free egg producers have had such an occurrence.”
“Chickens pick up roundworms when they come into contact with infected feces on the ground. How will consumers react to finding round worms in their eggs?” the association said. “Farmers know how to produce safe, quality eggs while caring for their chickens. Don’t take that knowledge away by removing consumers’ choices and forcing only cage-free eggs.”