Cage-free is the way to be

A UDS move to cage-free eggs would help send a clear message to the egg industry.

Recently the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly released a position statement asking University Dining Services to switch from caged-poultry eggs to “cage-free” eggs, which are laid by hens not housed in cramped factory-style cages. GAPSA has made a good case for the switch. Aside from supporting practices in the poultry industry that are more humane than “battery cages,” UDS would be supporting local poultry farmers who use these practices.

Many animal welfare and rights organizations have described the “evils” of caged layer-hen management. It is true that many operations cram far too many hens into tiny cages where they are not able to stand, stretch or turn around comfortably. There are more acceptable ways to keep layer hens, including indoor roosts and free range, both of which allow enough floor space for the hens to move naturally and comfortably. Some even afford them the ability to dust-bathe, which can greatly improve their mental state. All these improvements do come at a cost, but a small one. Eggs from certified humane operations cost approximately 7 cents more than eggs from caged operations. This is an easily absorbed cost for UDS and for a university as large as this one, moving toward a policy of using cage-free eggs would send a huge message to the poultry industry.

It is not necessary to become a vegan to support humane treatment of animals; University students can simply advocate for purchasing their food from farms that treat their animals humanely. Students can look up information through organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, as well as Humane Farm Animal Care, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving farm animal welfare and management through setting program standards operations can choose to meet.

Hopefully, UDS will take GAPSA’s position statement seriously and will consider the switch to cage-free eggs. The small savings gained through using battery-cage eggs is not worth the potential for pain and suffering of the animals. We should wait no longer to make the change.