Practical Issues > Factory Farm - Index > Chickens
Animal rights groups disagree, scramble to define 'humane' in egg debate
[video at full story link]
Greg Satrum rubs his hands with sanitizer just inside the hen house door and the nearest hundred chickens pull their heads back into dark wire cages, racecar red combs flopping across their skulls and beaks. When he stands still, the hens quickly rejoin thousands of other white leg horns, stretching their necks through a slit to a feed trough mechanically filled five times a day and dully lit by a long red bulb.
"We keep it dim because it reduces their aggression," says Satrum,
owner of Willamette Egg Farms south of Canby and president of the
Northwest Poultry Council.
Oregon is the one of the first states to implement space standards for egg-laying hens, just a few weeks behind Washington. Regional egg industry leaders accepted the new law as a compromise, but animal rights organizations are divided. The Oregon Humane Society supports the changes while the Humane Society of the United States says the new law doesn't do enough.
A group backed by the Humane Society of the United States, Oregonians for Humane Farms, is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to eliminate chicken cages altogether, arguing that the law creates an illusion of reform and only barely improves the quality of life for hens.