Led by research and continual innovation, cage housing has been the preferred method for egg production since the 1960s both for its improvements to hen welfare and egg food safety. As recently as 2002, the egg industry improved upon the conventional cage systems by developing the UEP Certified program following the recommendations of an independent Scientific Advisory Committee.
The UEP Certified program ensures the conventional cage housing systems used by farmers provides scientifically justified space per hen, improves air quality, and more effectively separates the hen and eggs from waste, thereby improving egg safety.
Enriched cages, which give hens twice the space they have in conventional cages and let them perform their natural behaviors, will become the preferred method for egg production in years to come under the proposed federal legislation.
Studies have shown that conventional and enriched cage housing systems reduce stress on the hens, which positively impacts hens’ immune system function. When managed properly, all systems (enriched cage, cage-free and organic/free range) provide safe, quality eggs. However, past studies have demonstrated a reduction of disease with the removal of waste from the hen's environment, and cage housing is the most effective at separating waste from the hen and egg.