Healthy Hens, Healthy Eggs: A Guide to Laying Hen Welfare

May 29, 2024

This article by HealthyFarm argues for improved welfare for egg-laying hens. It defines "laying hen welfare" as providing a comfortable environment that allows hens to express natural behaviors. The article contrasts this with the harsh reality of cramped cages in traditional systems, which deprive hens of basic well-being and can lead to health problems. The article highlights two reasons why laying hen welfare matters: -For the Hens: Improved welfare promotes physical and mental health by allowing them to express natural behaviors. -For Consumers: Caged systems can pose risks like Salmonella contamination and environmental damage. The article concludes by calling for action. Businesses in the F&B and food production sectors can make a difference by: -Partnering with Ethical Suppliers: HealthyFarm connects businesses with certified humane farms that prioritize hen well-being. -Prioritizing Certified Products: Certifications like Certified Humane or USDA Organic hold farms accountable to animal welfare standards. By making informed choices, consumers can ensure a better life for hens, safer eggs, and a healthier environment.

Ever thought about how eggs get to your plate? It might seem simple, but behind each egg is a story. For many egg-laying hens, their lives are far from those picture-perfect farm images you see online. At HealthyFarm, we believe happy hens lay better eggs, and that translates to better welfare needed for laying hens. But what exactly does "happy" mean for a hen? Let's look at laying hen welfare, why it's important, and how you can make a difference with each carton you buy.

What is Laying Hen Welfare?

Animal welfare goes beyond just keeping hens alive. It means providing them with a comfortable environment that allows them to express natural behaviors like nesting, dust bathing, and perching.

Imagine a life spent in a cramped cage, barely able to stretch your wings or express your instincts. This is the harsh reality for many egg-laying hens raised in traditional caged systems.  These hens are denied the simple joys of dustbathing, scratching the ground, and nesting in a quiet corner – behaviors essential to their physical and mental well-being. Animal welfare for laying hens means that they should be provided with "Five Freedoms":

Photo: 5 freedoms of hens, from HeathyFarm’s Laying Hens Information Package

Sadly, traditional caged housing often restricts movement and prevents these natural behaviors. This can lead to a multitude of problems for the hens, including:

Why Does Laying Hen Welfare Matter?

There are two key reasons why laying hen welfare matters: happy hens lead to happier outcomes for everyone involved.

For the Hens: Imagine living in a tiny apartment your entire life – not exactly a recipe for a happy and healthy existence. Caged environments compromise hens' well-being, leading to physical and mental health problems.

For Consumers: Caged systems can impact egg safety and the environment in negative ways. Overcrowding in cages can increase the risk of Salmonella contamination, while antibiotic overuse in caged farms can contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. Additionally, caged farms can pollute the air and water with manure and ammonia. Who wants eggs with a side of environmental impact?

Photo: Factors that increase Salmonella risk in caged farms, from HeathyFarm’s Laying Hens Information Package

What Can You Do?

The responsibility for promoting laying hen welfare extends beyond the farm. Businesses in the F&B and food production sectors can play a crucial role in driving positive change. Here are some key strategies that F&B and food production businesses can employ to drive positive change in laying hen welfare:

By making informed choices, we can ensure a better life for laying hens, safer eggs for consumers, and a healthier environment for everyone. Contact HealthyFarm at to learn more about our work and how you can get involved!

Read more about Laying Hens Welfare here!