About Cage and Cage-Free Egg Production

Many of today's egg farmers produce both cage and cage-free eggs to provide choice to their customers. However, since the mid-1960s, egg production has shifted from backyard flock production to modern cage systems, which has steadily improved the overall welfare of flocks and enhanced quality control and food safety. Today those enhancements continue to be reviewed and modified to ensure the best health and welfare of flocks.

Traditional cage systems are proving beneficial for hens and for consumers. Today, about 98 percent of all eggs produced in the U.S. come from conventional cage systems. An additional 85 percent of those eggs are produced under the United Egg Producers Certified guidelines, a program ensuring the highest standards of animal care and of developed based on scientific research.

Today's modern cage systems also...

  • Protect hens from predators
  • Rarely require the use of medications for hens
  • Keep hens in a climate-controlled environment, away from the elements
  • Reduce the incidence of poultry diseases
  • Maintain a biosecure environment
  • Ensure each hen has continuous access to food and water
  • Provide consumers with cleaner, safer eggs
  • Provide greater protection from cannibalism and improves the flock livability

Enclosed cage-free systems may also...

  • Provide more space per hen
  • Allow hens to dust-bathe
  • Permit hens to choose a nesting site

However, cage-free production has its costs:

  • Cage-free production costs are higher - and those costs are passed onto consumers
  • Cage-free production exposes birds to unstable climate conditions, unsanitary conditions, disease, predators and potential biosecurity issues
  • In July 2007, a dozen cage system eggs cost approximately $1.56, while a dozen cage-free eggs cost 85 percent more at $2.89*

* American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey, July 2007.