What are people really paying for when they buy “cage-free” eggs? Chances are good that the hens who laid them sustained broken or shattered bones.
As a new report published in Popular Science explains, up to 86 percent of hens on free-range egg farms may incur broken breastbones.
Why? Most cage-free hens are crowded into large, enclosed warehouses with no access to the outdoors. Farms manipulate hens’ food as well as the light in the sheds in order to make their bodies produce many more eggs than they would naturally. Since each eggshell requires calcium, this increased egg production pulls some of it from their bones, which begin to become weak and brittle as a result. And because of the cramped conditions, when chickens try to fly to perches in the evenings, they can crash into each other or fall to the ground, causing broken bones.
While researchers are looking for a solution to hen breastbone fractures, to us, the answer seems obvious: Go vegan.
What You Can Do
Check out our vegan baking cheat sheet to make your favorite recipes without breaking eggs—or hens’ bones.