My blog last week about traditional egg production and cage-free egg production caused several positive reactions. On that occasion I asked to be informed about whether any organization promoted the benefits of traditional production. And that was the case. I was contacted by Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers in the United States, who provided me with several interesting concepts.

Subject to a full article later, I summarize here some insights, based on more than 40 years of Klippen’s experience in producing eggs and evidence from researchers. The question is: Why did we stop producing cage-free eggs about 50 years ago?

There are several reasons for this. I will mention only a few. Has anyone thought of the pecking order hens establish? When the population is limited to a few birds, within a cage, the damage caused by pecking and mortality is reduced. In cage-free systems it is very different. It is a matter of observing this between the traditional system and free-range systems.

In cage-free systems, keel bone breakage is higher from collisions with perches. Free hens have more external parasite issues, such as the situation in Europe with red mites. In terms of diseases, there has been a resurgence in infectious coryza in backyard flocks or the presence of spotty liver disease. In addition, access to the outside world makes them prone to other diseases.

And what about product safety? Cage-free eggs may have round worms, in addition to production of more dirty eggs, to the detriment of public health.

Sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions, and cost are all to be mentioned. Is it understood why we are producing with cages?

So, it is not so humane to leave hens loose there, as it is believed. No one in his healthy judgment produces eggs in cages to disturb, to make hens suffer, to oppress a species. It is a matter of profitability, health, ecology, and food production at a fair and affordable price.

What do you think?