Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cage Free Eggs on the Rise

More egg producers are going cage free, although it will probably never be a majority.

Egg farms are increasing their production of cage-free eggs, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert barns by tearing out cages, installing new floors, reconfiguring feed and water lines, and changing ventilation systems.

"It's a growing market," said Jerry Knapke, operations manager for Fort Recovery Equity, the nation's ninth-largest egg producer. "We see a slow, steady growth."

Knapke doesn't expect cage-free to ever make up the majority of eggs produced in the U.S. However, he projects that 5 percent of the 6.5 million birds raised by the company's 60 contract farms will be cage-free within the next six months.

United Egg Producers estimates that 5 percent of U.S. egg production is either cage-free or organic, up from 2 percent three years ago. Organic eggs are produced by cage-free chickens that have access to the outdoors and are fed only organic feed.

Burger King began asking its suppliers for cage-free eggs in March and hopes they account for at least 2 percent of the restaurant chain's egg volume by the end of the year. The Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food chains said in September they would begin buying cage-free eggs and planned to have them account for 2 percent of their egg purchases by July.

Photo by Protohiro

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