Pasture-Raised Eggs Meet Space Requirements of California's Proposition 2
California's new egg law incrementally improves the living conditions for caged hens causing prices to rise for the same quality egg. All eggs sold in the state must be produced from hens that can turn around and stretch their wings inside cage confinement. Pasture-raised hens are raised in environments that allow the birds the ability to express a full-range of natural behaviors, such as flying, roosting, and foraging while improving egg quality.
Hens raised on pasture produce eggs that comply with California's new law, which requires all eggs to be laid from hens with more spacious cages. Pasture-raised hens are not raised in cages, and their eggs are commonly available at farmers markets and directly from local, small-flock farmers.
Even before Californians voted to ban battery cages for hens in the state, pasture-raised hens were living outside in spacious housing on range. The living environment provided to the typical pasture-raised hen allows her to express a full range of natural behaviors, such as flying, roosting, and foraging.
Proposition2, California’s Egg Law, has been interpreted to mean caged hens require at least 116 square inches of space in order to express the most basic of natural motions, such as turning around and extending its wings. To demonstrate the approximate area needed to achieve 116 square inches, draw a square that is 10-3/4” x 10-3/4”.
The California egg law in effect as of January 1, 2015, doesn’t eliminate cages from production, and it doesn’t require the birds to be outside on range. A pasture-raised hen, by comparison, spends a significant portion of its life outside foraging on vegetation and insects.
The California law will ultimately increase the cost of eggs for consumers, but the quality will remain the same. In order to comply with the law, the large economies of scale afforded to producers in a battery cage system will decrease as a necessity to complying with the law.
The quality of pasture-raised eggs compared to confinement eggs can be demonstrated in taste, texture, and nutritional improvements. Various studies have shown that pasture-raised eggs tend to have beneficial nutritional qualities in terms of lower omega 6:3 ratios and increased levels of vitamins A, D, and E.
Eating pasture-raised eggs remains the best way to vote against the modern-alternative of producing eggs in confined environments. Consumers who care about high animal welfare, high quality, and high nutrition already have a choice in the marketplace. That choice is to eat locally produced pastured-raised eggs from smaller flocks.