Hens that live and let live

The Agricultural Research Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has developed a line of less aggressive hens that still produce a lot of eggs. The goal is to cut mortality in group-housed flocks without the usual, less than welfare-friendly beak trimming.

Housed together to an age of 54 weeks in communal cages rather than battery cages, commercial birds are merciless and suffer an 89 per cent mortality rate compared to 20 per cent for the less aggressive, newly developed line of birds. The gentler birds also produced more eggs.

Better Farming - August/September 2009