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January 30, 2012

The Cage-Free Trend in Canada

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Room for natural behaviors. HSI

Humane Society International/Canada is working with restaurants, schools and universities, and municipalities to help them transition to using cage-free eggs.

The cage-free trend

In North America, hundreds of universities, restaurants and municipalities have made the switch to using cage-free eggs. The public wants this change! National polls confirm that most Canadians oppose the use of battery cages for laying hens, and the populations in every province surveyed support a legislative ban on the use of battery cages in their province.

In Vancouver, there are already more than 80 restaurants exclusively serving free range eggs, and 14 in Victoria, with the list growing daily. Cage-free eggs are also being embraced by city councils and schools. Across Canada, numerous communities have shown their support by choosing to serve cage-free eggs in all council-run facilities, and dozens of schools, including some of Canada’s top universities, such as McGill, Concordia, Ryerson, Simon Fraser, Victoria and Guelph, have adopted cage-free egg purchasing policies.

If you would like your school, institution, or business to go cage-free, contact us for more information!

In 2010, the Manitoba Egg Farmers announced that no new battery cage facilities or major retrofits of existing facilities will be allowed after 2018.

The cage-free egg trend has taken root internationally, too. Dozens of major food companies—like Burger King, Safeway, Subway, Quiznos, Denny’s, Wendy’s, Kraft Foods, Sara Lee and Starbucks—use cage-free eggs. Costco and Wal-Mart have made all their private brand eggs cage-free. Food giant Unilever—owner of popular brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s—announced that it will only use cage-free eggs in its products.

As of January 2012, the entire Europe Union banned the use of barren battery cages. In the United States, federal legislation to phase out battery cage housing, as well as ensuring hens have access to nest boxes, perches, and areas to forage and dust bathe, was proposed in January 2012. In the interim, California and Michigan have passed laws to end the cage confinement of hens statewide (by 2015 and 2019, respectively).

What you can do

You can help get chickens out of cruel battery cages by choosing to purchase free run, free range, or certified organic eggs. In battery cages, a hen’s behaviour is severely restricted, not allowing her to express her natural behaviour, like scratching at the ground, laying their eggs in a secluded nest box, perching, flapping their wings and performing dust baths. As a result of their intensive confinement, and of severe overcrowding, hens kept in battery cages suffer severe frustration, injuries, and disease.

Ask your local café or restaurant if the eggs on their menu are from cage-free hens, and suggest that they make the switch if they haven’t already. As a consumer, you have the power to drive change! The more business owners receive demands from their clients, the more that they will insist farmers house their hens in cage-free production systems.

You can also avoid the confusing labels on egg cartons and opt for egg-free alternatives! Check out our Guide to Meat-Free Meals for some great recipes and tips on how to eat cruelty-free.