Oregon legislators recently passed a new law stipulating that all eggs sold in the state must come from cage-free hens by 2024. The legislation will require farm operations with more than 3,000 hens to provide “a cage-free housing system” for the birds and also mandates that the fowl are afforded “enrichments…including, at minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.” Violation of the law could result in significant fines.
The Humane Society of the United States applauded the measure as a “monumental win for hens,” adding that “with Oregon’s new law, the entire West Coast region of the United States now has the strongest laws in the world for egg-laying hens.” I guess if you’re an egg-laying hen-- or an illegal alien-- the West Coast is the place to be.
Two proposed amendments to the bill were narrowly defeated, however, though proponents vow to revisit them in the near future. One proposed rider would have mandated that all hens be given two weeks of vacation each year, while the other would have necessitated providing the hens with unlimited access to cable television, including premium channels. Both amendments would do away with the pernicious “pecking order.”
Animal rights activists touted Oregon’s move and said it paves the way for further progress in the immediate future. The head of one such group told this reporter that activists are closely watching California’s legislature to see what becomes of a bill now being considered that would improve the lives of milk cows. This bill, they say, would require that all milk sold in the state come from free-roaming cows in unfenced pastures. It would outlaw machine-based milking, mandating that only the softest, un-calloused human hands be used to coax the animal’s teats into giving up the precious dairy product. Moreover, the bill would stipulate that cows have 24/7 access to the choicest cud, and that they receive relaxing back and neck massages while Barry White music plays softly during the period when they are being milked.
The cows would be provided access to free legal advice if they felt marginalized, underappreciated, discriminated against, overworked or harassed, sexually or otherwise.