Shelly’s Farm Fresh Egg Production & the New Cage Law
By the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association
You’ve probably noticed that egg prices in California are higher, with cartons costing as much as a dollar more than last year, and the state’s new chicken cage requirements are being blamed for the increases. The law requires that each egg-laying hen have at least 116 square inches in a cage to spread its wings. The voters decided that extreme confinement of laying hens is inhumane and unacceptable.
The law, Proposition 2, the California Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act, was passed in 2008 with a six-year window with which to comply (January 1, 2015). This has caused many growers to reduce the number of birds they house in existing facilities, or modify the caging systems they already have, which they say is expensive. This means the costs are passed to the consumer and eggs now cost more.
Shelly McMahon of Shelly’s Farm Fresh in Brentwood says, “The only change that we have made due to the new caging law is increased production. I appreciate that change is sometimes frustrating and will increase costs but in the long run it is so much better for the chickens and for the healthier eggs they produce.”
She goes on to say, “We have always raised our hens on pasture. We believe the hens are healthier and happier when allowed to forage naturally. It is more work for the smaller family farms and more land is required but it is worth it for the higher nutritional value and delicious flavor of the eggs, not to mention the welfare of the hens.
“Raising hens on pasture allows the birds to roam and perform their natural behaviors such as pecking and scratching for bugs and seeds, and taking dirt baths. Hens are given fresh water, nesting boxes and perches, and then rotated to new areas of pasture regularly so they always have access to fresh grass. We raise our birds on pasture not only because it makes ‘the girls’ happy, but because pasture-raised eggs are tastier and healthier. Our eggs have a rich flavor and dark yolks with beautiful shells of brown, blue or green.”
So think of the chickens and the humane way they are treated when you pay a little extra for your eggs. They will thank you with delicious healthy eggs. Look for ‘CA SEFS COMPLIANT’ on your egg cartons for eggs compliant with the new law.