Cage-Free Benefits

Cage-free farming is better for hens.

  • On caged farms, each hen is forced to live her life in a space smaller than a standard sheet of notebook paper. She has little room to stretch her wings or turn around.  
  • Hens kept in such cages often suffer from feather loss, bruises and abrasions due to constant rubbing against the wire bars of the cage and other hens.
  • The lack of exercise can make a hen’s bones brittle and leave her more vulnerable to injury and disease. Some hens are too unhealthy to even stand up.
  • The small, barren cage restricts most of the hen’s natural behaviors. She cannot lay her eggs in a nest, perch, forage or dust bathe. Nesting is particularly important to hens and they experience extreme stress when they cannot lay their eggs in a nest.

Cage-free farming is safer. 

There is overwhelming scientific evidence to demonstrate that caged hens have a greater chance of being infected by Salmonella; which is among the most common causes of food-related hospitalization and deaths in the US and Canada.ii,iii,iv

  • A study by the European Food Safety Authority, which analyzed data from 5,000 egg farms in more than 20 countries, found up to 25-times greater odds of Salmonella infection in farms where hens were kept in battery cages than in farms using any non-cage system. i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi
  • Keeping hens in small, barren, crowded cages causes them considerable stress, which can make the hens more susceptible to diseases and more infectious.
  • Diseases can spread more rapidly in larger, denser flocks. The average size of a caged flock in the U.S. is 75,000 to 100,000 hens while the average size of a cage-free flock is 25,000 hens. A USDA study found that farms with more than 100,000 birds were four times more likely to have birds test positive for Salmonella than those with fewer than 100,000 birds.

Cage-free farming is better for everyone.

Whenever we buy eggs – or any product made with eggs – we’re making a choice about the kind of food we want to serve at our table, as well as the kind of world we want to live in. We have a responsibility to treat the animals that produce our food in a humane and decent way.

Change is possible! It begins with a simple choice. Buy cage-free eggs, every time – and encourage others to do so. A few extra dollars can help end the vast suffering of millions of hens– while providing a safer and more wholesome product for you. Join the flock — choose cage-free.

i2010: Annual Report on Zoonoses in Denmark 2009: Nearly six times more salmonella over the past decade in battery cage flocks as compared to those from deep litter barn systems. 2010: Ghent University, Belgium: Three times greater odds.
2010:Belgian, German, Swiss, Italian, and Greek researchers: 20 times greater odds of Salmonella infection in caged flocks
2010:British Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the British Department of Agriculture & Rural development, and the European Commission study: 7.77 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens
2009: Iowa State University:  Three times greater odds of salmonella in caged hens
2009: Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches Avicoles (France):  Significantly more risk of Salmonella in caged flocks
2008: Hasselt University and the Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (Belgium): 7.88 to 21.52 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens
2008: French Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission study: More than twice the prevalence of Salmonella in operations caging hens
2008: Institute of Immunology at Vilnius University (Lithuania): 59% greater prevalence of Salmonella
2007: A European Food Safety Authority report: Up to 25 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens
2006: Instltut fur bakterielle Infektionen und Zoonosen (Germany): More than twice the prevalence of Salmonella in operations caging hens
2005: Wageningen University and Research Centre (Netherlands): 1.9 to 6.7 times greater risk of Salmonella in typical cage operations
ii Chittick P, Sulka A, Tauxe RV, and Fry AM. 2006. A summary of national reports of foodborne outbreaks of Salmonella Heidelberg infections in the United States: clues for disease prevention. Journal of Food Protection 69(5):1150-3.
iii Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011. Trends in Foodborne Illness, 1996-2010.
iv Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, Tauxe RV, Widdowson M-A, Roy SL, et al. (2011). "Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens". Emerging Infectious Diseases 17 (1): 7–15.
v European Food Safety Authority. 2007. Report of the Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection on the Analysis of the baseline study on the prevalence of Salmonella in holdings of laying hen flocks of Gallus gallus. The EFSA Journal 97.

About the campaign

Choose Cage Free is an initiative by World Animal Protection to educate consumers about the real living conditions of hens in cages. We are empowering everyone to commit to cage-free eggs and are working with farmers and businesses to adopt cage-free practices. With your support, we can ultimately improve the lives of millions of hens. Change is possible!