More than 95% of the approximately 280 million egg-laying hens in the United States are confined to barren battery cages where they are crowded and deprived of the ability to perform natural behaviors such as exploring, nesting, perching, dust bathing, or simply stretching their wings. Birds endure painful beak trimming, stand on wire floors that cripple their legs, breathe toxic air, and live their entire lives under unnatural, dim lighting.
In spite of the appalling conditions, profit and productivity for the industry remains high because the hens have been genetically selected to produce an excess of eggs - at the expense of their own health and welfare.
High-welfare, pasture-based farms represent a dramatic welfare improvement for egg-laying chickens. Farmers certified by the Animal Welfare Approved program raise modest-sized flocks of chickens who produce eggs at a normal rate. Birds on pasture can run, fly, stretch and flap their wings, and have access to forage, dust baths, fresh air and sunlight. These egg-laying hens have space to themselves and access to protected nest boxes for laying. Beak (or other) mutilations are prohibited.