Cage-free egg farms growing
The 13,000 hens roam the barn floor, spread their wings and duck into nest boxes covered by red plastic flaps to provide a dark area that encourages egg-laying. Three months earlier, the same barn housed nearly four times as many chickens, but they were confined to small wire cages stacked on top of each other.
Egg farms are increasing their production of cage-free eggs, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert barns by tearing out cages, installing new floors, reconfiguring feed and water lines, and changing ventilation systems.
United Egg Producers estimates that 5 percent of U.S. egg production is either cage-free or organic, up from 2 percent three years ago. Organic eggs are produced by cage-free chickens that have access to the outdoors and are fed only organic feed.