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September 11, 2008

Barren Battery Cages in Brazil

Humane Society International

  • Life in rows. Ana Maria de Andrade Mitidiero

  • No room to move around. Compassion Over Killing

  • Opportunity for natural behavior. HSI

  • Cage-free is more humane. HSI

Hens are intelligent animals who form strong family ties; yet, in Brazil, approximately 90 percent of egg-laying hens, or more than 100 million animals, are confined in battery cages so small that the birds are prevented from performing many important natural behaviors, including walking, perching, dust bathing, nesting, or even fully stretching their wings.

They suffer psychological stress as well as numerous physical harms, including bone weakness and breakage, feather loss, and diseases. Confined in battery cages, each bird has less space than a sheet of paper on which to spend her entire life. 

The science supports what common sense already tells us: that animals confined in such an extreme manner endure constant suffering. Studies also show that not confining animals in cages may also improve food safety.

Alternative systems

In Brazil, there are more humane production systems that do not use cages, including free-range and organic. Not only do free-range and organic certification in the country prohibit confinement in battery cages, they also require that the birds have access to outdoor areas where they can exercise and carry out more natural behaviors, such as foraging.

There are also many vegetarian egg substitutes for your recipes.

International trend

The world is moving away from barren battery cages. Battery cages were banned in Switzerland in 1992, and barren battery cages throughout the European Union in 2012.  Bhutan also banned the confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages in 2012. In the US, the states of California and Michigan have passed laws to restrict the confinement of egg-laying hens. California also passed a law, starting in 2015, which requires that all eggs sold in the state conform to higher animal welfare standards.

Important multinational companies are also adopting cage-free egg purchasing policies.  Burger King, Unilever, Subway, and WalMart are using cage-free eggs in the United States and the European Union.

You can help

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  • Live in Brazil? Help hens by pledging to avoid eggs from battery cages Sign the Pledge