Animal Welfare

Find out more about how we treat our hens.

Q. Where and how are the hens housed?

A.

Eggland's Best farms are located all across the U.S. Our regular Eggland's Best eggs in the white carton are from caged hens. Cages are the most prevalent housing system in the commercial egg industry because cages still offer the best sanitation, ventilation, and freedom from dust and ammonia. Cages offer the most disease-free environment, since the hens do not have access to others' waste and there is no organic matter for bacteria to grow on. There are also fewer problems with hens pecking each other when they are caged in small groups with a rigidly defined social order, rather than the continual mingling and challenging that goes on in a large barn.

The Eggland's Best Cage-Free and Organic eggs are from cage-free hens. Cage-free means the hens can roam around in a very large building, but do not have outdoor access like free-range hens. Organic means that the hens live in cage free environment and also have outdoor access. The cage-free environment offers greater freedom for movement and other normal hen behaviors. Eggland's Best Cage Free and Organic eggs are rapidly expanding distribution in the marketplace. To protect the birds from each other, a process is done by special equipment, which cauterizes the beak and may be compared to clipping a dog's claws. Beak trimming is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "de-beaking". Beaks are not removed or the birds could not eat. The sharp tips of chicks' beaks are trimmed or "blunted" to lessen injury to each other. Beak trimming is done when chicks are less than a week old. Beak-trimmed chicks will immediately resume pecking, eating and drinking as though nothing had happened. 

Q. Does Eggland’s Best maintain acceptable standards of welfare?

A.

Eggland's Best producers have adopted very stringent welfare regulations for both caged and floor-housed flocks.  Space requirement in cages and in houses are adequate for normal function and behavior. All Eggland's Best production facilities are audited annually to ensure that flocks are healthy and have sufficient space, light, ventilation, water, feed and are protected from injury.  All Eggland's Best egg producers are part of the United Egg Producers Animal Welfare program, which requires all participants to increase the amount of space allotted to each hen, whether caged or cage-free.

Flocks are always handled and transported humanely. 

Q. Do the hens receive veterinary care?

A.

It is absolutely essential that hens be given the best care possible so that they produce the best eggs. The hens' health is monitored by veterinarians for their well-being and to ensure the safety of the eggs for consumers. 

Q. What is molting?

A.

When a hen gets to be about a year to a year and a half old, the mineral reserves in her bones and body start to get depleted, regardless of how nutritionally perfect her diet is. In order to rejuvenate the hen, it is necessary to temporarily stop egg production. This stage of rest from egg production is called molting.

Chickens, as most birds, are stimulated to lay eggs by increasing amounts of light and day length, which initiates their reproductive season in the spring. In order to make egg production stop, the usual practice is to shorten the day length and the availability of light to be comparable to a short winter day when most birds do not lay eggs  The diet is also changed to fit the "off production" period.

During a molt, the flight feathers are shed and grow back. Molting is a natural process that would occur through a flock of hens at some point in their production cycle. After a hen stops producing eggs, she will be fed a rejuvenating diet. The lights are then increased to simulate the lengthening days of spring, and the hen starts producing eggs again. In this second cycle of egg production, eggs are larger and the shell quality is better. Molting is a practice mostly used by farmers who have a significant market for Extra Large eggs. Since Eggland's Best eggs are usually available in the Large size, the majority of Eggland's Best eggs are not produced from molted hens.