Interesting developments in commercial chicken keeping


In the Brooder
7 Years
Jan 30, 2012
I know this doesn't apply to the backyard keeper as much, but I know many of you are keeping your own chickens in response to the horrible ways the commercial egg facilities are allowed to keep chickens.
I found this article in DVM magazine (May 2012) and found this information to be at least a step in the right direction.

Bill H.R.3798 also known as the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments.

U.S. egg producers will have to switch to hen cages nearly twice their current size and those cages will need to be equipped with perches, ensting boxes and other environmental enrichment tools to encourage natural behaviors for the hens. Additionally, the bill requires that euthanasia of egg-laying hens meet guidelines the AVMA has deemed humane and acceptable, that labels be placed on egg cartons detiling information about the hens' living conditions and that ammonia concentrations be limited in the hen-houses. The bill is to be phased in over 9-15 years.
Supported by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), American Association of Avian Pathologists and sweveral animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevetion of Cruelty to Animals and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

The bill is opposed by The American Farm Bureau Federation because it attempts to replace science-based animal care practicies with animal rights-driven federal control.

Lets hope this passes and that it promotes even more change in the commercial chicken industry!
1) My bet is that it does not pass. Money almost always wins.

2) Science, as in published peer reviewed research, has shown that enrichment is important for a large number of animals, from farm animals to octopuses.
I agree with your number two point wholeheartedly. I work in the veterinary profession and have seen the benefits of it. I find it amusing that they are trying to cite their view as scientific when enrichment is supported by the AVMA (essentially scientists.)
as for your number one point, I am an optimist and hope it passes.
I am a scientist and wrote the first papers suggesting that we consider enrichment for invertebrates such as octopuses. Now, a decade later, we still need more study but the evidence so far is that enrichment matters. It effects the ability to learn in cuttlefish, a relative of octopus. In octopuses, enrichment reduces self destructive behaviors like eating their own arms and repeatedly swimming into the glass.

That enrichment matters for vertebrates like chickens is old news. We knew that 30-40 years ago. That is what the science has been telling us for some time.

What about those that actually keep chickens? Those of us with free range chickens don't seem to need to cut off their beaks or constantly load them up with antibiotics. . . If it isn't how they are kept, what is it?

I'm neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I'm a realist. These days it seems like money buys PR spin and that kicks reality's butt almost every time. You know things are bad when one side can claim science supports them when the exact opposite is true. . . I'm sorry but I think that there is no way this will pass. . . and I very much hope to be proven wrong.

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