Animal welfare is central to the modern egg farming industry in the United States. Top egg farmers of the nation like Hillandale Farms Pennsylvania believe that good stewardship of resources includes the humane treatment of hens in their care. Hence, they try to go above and beyond the prime standards and requirements to make sure that their hens are well cared for. Most of these egg farms have a United Egg Producers (UEP) Certification that underlines that the farm is able to meet the industry standards for animal welfare, cage space, living conditions, and humane treatment.
Hillandale Farms Pennsylvania provides an introduction to UEP Certification
United Egg Producers (UEP) commissioned an independent Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) in 1999 after recognizing a growing concern for animal welfare. This committee is comprised of independent scientists, researchers, and veterinarians who are committed to laying hen welfare. Valuable guidance and leadership to the program is also provided by UEP’s Producer Animal Welfare Committee which includes egg farmers with specific, hands-on knowledge of hen production. Today these committees work in collaboration with regular reviews of modern egg farming standards and innovations to improve the UEP Certified program.
The UEP Certified Program prioritizes the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare that are designed to guarantee that hens have a good quality of life. These freedoms include:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst: The hens should be provided with an adequate amount of feed and fresh water. This feed and water must be accessible to them at all times.
- Freedom from discomfort due to the environment: Hens must be housed in an environment that is particularly designed as per their needs. The hens must be free to move around and have access to areas to rest or nest.
- Freedom to express normal behavior for the species: Hens must be provided with enough space to stretch their wings and natural behaviors such as dust bathing, perching, and scratching.
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease: Hens should be given proper veterinary care in times of need. Measures should also be taken to keep them protected from diseases or stress caused by other animals in the flock.
- Freedom from fear or distress: The hens should be able to live in a stress-free environment, away from predators. They also must be handled in a humane manner at all times.
All UEP-certified farms, like Hillandale Farms Pennsylvania, adhere to the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare discussed above. These guidelines play an instrumental role in enabling egg farmers to make sure that their hens live in a healthy and safe environment where they can express natural behaviors, and have access to clean food and water. The UEP Certified program provides a good way for egg farmers to demonstrate their commitment to providing the best care possible for their hens. Moreover, by purchasing eggs with the UEP Certified or UEP Certified Cage-Free seal, consumers can make sure that the hens laying those eggs are treated with care.