Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday requiring cage-free eggs in Oregon.
The law mandates that commercial farms with 3,000 or more chickens give their birds room to move around and stretch their wings. By 2024, all eggs produced or sold in the state must come from cage-free hens.
The Humane Society of the United States called the new law a “monumental win for hens confined in tiny cages in the egg industry.”
Oregon joins a handful of other states that have passed similar laws, including California, Washington and Massachusetts. The Oregon requirements will give some 4-million birds added space, as well as perches.
Cage-free laws provide an improvement for chickens’ well-being -- in many cases a significant improvement. But most of them still will be kept in relatively small spaces. The news website Vox called Washington state’s recent law, which is similar to Oregon’s, “a start on the path toward humane conditions.”
Such laws are not the norm across the country. About 90 percent of chickens in the U.S. will continue to live in small cages, Willamette Week points out.
Iowa passed a law last year requiring grocers to sell eggs from hens in battery cages. The floor width of these wire cages is barely larger than a mouse pad.
“Chickens are inquisitive, active animals,” states the Humane Society, “and life inside a cage is one of frustration and deprivation.”