Colorado lawmakers urged to avoid cage-free egg mandate

Could Colorado become the next state to outlaw the sale and production of cage-produced eggs?

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Could Colorado become the next state to outlaw the sale and production of cage-produced eggs?

Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers, in an email said the association has received three reports from people, informing him that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was actively involved in seeking such a law in Colorado.

To help prevent that from becoming a reality, Klippen and the association he leads on August 14 sent individually addressed emails to 102 members of the Colorado General Assembly, which includes both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“The population of Colorado is approximately 5.7 million people and the state has according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture 4.5 million layers. The egg production from 1.2 million hens outside of Colorado is needed to provide the per capita needs of the state. Should HSUS succeed in Colorado, it will significantly add to the cost of production for the farmers in the state as well as those who ship eggs into Colorado,” Klippen explained.

In the letter, Klippen offered seven reasons he believes Colorado legislators should not mandate cage-free eggs:

  1. The U.S. Animal Health Association October 17, 2017 Report stated, “Ascarids (round worms) are increasingly being found in cage-free operations with the concern being the possibility of a consumer finding an egg with a roundworm contained inside." 
  2. The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported a greater incidence of chicken deaths in cage-free facilities due to the inherent pecking order naturally found among chickens. Reducing the population size to a few chickens in a cage reduces mortality in half compared to cage-free where thousands of chickens are pecking each other, the letter stated. 
  3. Spotty liver disease is more prevalent among cage-free chickens than in cages, Klippen wrote, adding that when chickens contract this disease, the known method of cure is the use of antibiotics. 
  4. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a greater incidence of Salmonellosis among backyard poultry (cage-free chickens) as compared to commercial egg production.
  5. In the Journal Food Control published a study June 17, 2014 entitled "Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional and Free-Range Housing Systems"  The conclusions show why cages became the preferred method of producing safer eggs, Klippen said.
  6. After Proposition 2 and the subsequent California law went into effect, the average price of eggs sold in California was 90% higher than the rest of the nation. This is substantiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marketing Service egg price reporting,  Klippen informed lawmakers.
  7. The Animal Agriculture Alliance partnered with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation to study consumer beliefs and willingness-to-pay for specific attributes in cage-free eggs and slow-growth boilers. Each survey had more than 2,000 respondents who made choices between products that vary in price, production practices, labeling claims, packaging,  product color and appearance.
    Key findings of that study include:

•  Overall, consumers report price, safety and taste as the most important factors they consider when purchasing eggs.

•  More than half of egg shoppers are price sensitive showing little willingness-to-pay more for cage-free.

• Removing the option to buy affordable, conventionally-produced eggs significantly increases the share of consumers’ not buying eggs altogether.


The letter came just two days after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that would make the production and sale of eggs from cage-raised hens illegal in the Oregon by the end of 2023. The signing of the law was applauded by HSUS.

Similar laws have been passed in California, Washington and Massachusetts.


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