Arguably the most abused animals in all agribusiness, nearly 280 million laying hens in the United States are confined in barren, wire battery cages so restrictive the birds can't even spread their wings. With no opportunity to engage in many of their natural behaviors, including nesting, dust bathing, perching, and foraging, these birds endure lives wrought with suffering.
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More than 350 schools have enacted policies to eliminate or greatly decrease their use of eggs from caged hens, including Harvard, University of Minnesota, Dartmouth College, University of California-Berkeley, University of New Hampshire, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tufts University, and Georgetown University.
- U.S. factory farms confine nearly 300 million hens in barren battery cages that are so small, the birds can't even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live. The European Union has banned barren battery cages, effective 2012.
- Cage-free hens generally have better lives than birds confined in battery cages. While caging is not the only animal welfare problem in the egg industry, it is a significant cause of laying hen suffering. Cage-free hens generally have approximately 250-300 percent more space per bird and are able to engage in more of their natural behaviors than are caged hens.
- There is a snowballing national movement against battery cages. Wolfgang Puck is ending his use of cage eggs. Burger King is beginning to use cage-free eggs. Several grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, have stopped selling cage eggs. Companies such as AOL and Google have ended the use of cage eggs in their employee cafeterias. And local municipalities in Maryland, California and Florida have condemned battery cage confinement.