Sponsored By
Michigan Farmer Logo

New law requires egg-laying hens to be cage-free by 2024New law requires egg-laying hens to be cage-free by 2024

Michigan joins California, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island in adopting the cage-free requirements.

Jennifer Kiel

December 11, 2019

2 Min Read
cage free chickens

Legislation signed into law Nov. 22 by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist makes Michigan the largest egg-producing state in the country to adopt a cage-free mandate.

The law requires all egg-laying hens in Michigan be kept in cage-free systems and prohibits the sale of non-cage-free eggs by December 2024.

It’s a big move for the state, but one that growers anticipated and have been preparing for, says Allison Brink, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries (MAPI), who applauded the law’s passage.

Hundreds of retail companies, including Meijer, Kroger, Nestle and McDonald's, have made national commitments with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), promising to sell only cage-free eggs by 2025. “This [law] puts us in line with retailer commitments,” Brink says. “Over the last 10 years, both industry and advocacy have shifted to cage-free housing.”

Other states that have adopted cage-free requirements include California, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island.

In a cage-free system, the birds, Brink explains, will be housed in an aviary providing free movement, scratching areas, perches, nest boxes and dust-bathing areas, in addition to adequate light and ventilation.

Changes in egg-laying hen housing started in 2009 when HSUS threatened a ballot initiative to force growers into cage-free systems. Instead, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that allowed for the system to be phased in.

This new law pushes back the requirement, which was slated to take effect in April 2020. Growers supported the legislation, saying the consumer demand for cage-free housing is still building and delaying the compliance date allowed for growers to better align with the market.

According to MAPI, farmers are spending millions of dollars to transition to cage-free henhouses. About 8.5 million, or 56%, of hens currently live cage-free. An additional 1 million, or 6%, will be cage-free by the end of 2020.

“By passing this law, Michigan’s $655 million-dollar egg-growing sector, and the other family farms who support it, will thrive,” Brink says. “I’m very confident and feel good about where we are at in this transition.”

Michigan has eight family-owned and operated egg farms that care for more than 15 million hens, according to MAPI. West Michigan is home to 95% of Michigan’s egg farms.

“This will ensure that our standards are among the strongest in the nation when it comes to protecting animal welfare, while ensuring that egg producers are able to continue to thrive," Gilchrist says in a news release.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer

While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.

Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.

Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like