Come 2024, Oregon hens will have Governor Kate Brown to thank for their newfound cage-free freedom. Brown signed SB1019 last week, a bill that makes it mandatory for Oregon hens to live cage-free by that date.
Oregon follows Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington in the phasing out or outright banning of the battery cages that are used to store hens in what many argue are inhumane living conditions. In its current form, Oregon’s new law only applies to commercial farms with 3,000 or more chickens, which translates to roughly 4 million birds.
Though there are certainly a large number of chickens still left out in the cold, The Humane Society of the United States acknowledges the progress as a “monumental win for hens confined in tiny cages in the egg industry,”
Nationally, close to 18% of all hens in the United States were living in a cage-free environment as of last year. That number is up from 12% in 2016, and 4% in 2010, according the United States Department of Agriculture. Approximated by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to meet projected market demand a little over 70% of eggs will need to come from cage-free environments by 2026, signaling a brighter future for U.S. hens
By Ryan Tuthill