Bob Evans Farms announced its plans to participate in a commercial-scale U.S. study of laying-hen housing alternatives, including cage-free housing. The study will look at the effects of different housing environments on hen health and well-being, safe and affordable food, the environment and worker welfare.
The goal of the study is to understand the viability of alternative housing systems in the United States, including cage-free and "enriched housing," which includes nests and perches. Another goal is to provide scientific research that will assist Bob Evans Farms and other companies in making more informed decisions on sustainable egg purchases.
"There are many compelling reasons for a study of this kind," said Sommer Mueller, a veterinarian and director of food safety and regulatory compliance at Bob Evans Farms. "Current research offers conflicting evidence regarding the well-being of animals in a cage-free environment. We recognize the gap in commercial-scale research on sustainable egg production and are very interested in further data to guide our decisions at Bob Evans Farms."
The study is sponsored by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, of which Bob Evans is a member. Experts at Michigan State University and the University of California-Davis are determining the design, timeline and costs of the study, as well as standards for each housing type, which include cage-free aviary, free-range and enriched housing.