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  • Writer's pictureGina Scrofano

California Says No to Extreme Confinement of Baby Veal Calves, Pigs & Hens

Pork, veal, and eggs sold from factory farms means a lifetime of extreme confinement for most mother pigs, baby veal calves and egg-laying hens. Those animals are kept in metal crates or cages so small that they're unable to turn around or fully stretch their limbs for nearly their entire lives. But on November 6th, Californians said, no more.

In 2008 California voters took the first step by passing Proposition 2, which required that egg-laying hens, mother pigs, and baby calves raised for veal in California, can lie down, stand up, turn around and extend their limbs. In 2010, the California legislature passed AB 1437, requiring that all facilities that sell eggs in California meet those standards, whether located within the State's borders or not.

However, even after that amazing feat, much of the pork and veal sold in California still comes from out-of-state factory farms that use those extreme confinement methods, because the sale of the products was not banned.

Although AB 1437 banned the sale of eggs from factories that keep hens in extreme confinement, it did not mandate specific square footage of living space per hen; it was based on the animal's natural 'behavior and movement.' The egg industry exploits those lack of specifics and often assert that the natural movement space needed per hen is approximately 115.2 square inches; an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper is 93.5 square inches.

Additionally, the laws did not apply to liquid eggs, leaving those hens in battery cages, preventing them from extending their wings and with less space to live their entire lives than a standard sheet of paper.

Enter, California Ballot Measure - Proposition 12

On November 6th, Proposition 12 passed by a 61.1% vote; equalling 4,321,365 California residents who believe animals deserve better.

Proposition 12 Helps Animals In Three Primary Ways

1. Bans the sale of veal in California from factory farms (whether located in or out of state), that keep baby veal calves in cruel cages, and sets the highest space requirements for veal calves in the United States.

2. Bans the sale of pork sold in California from factory farms (whether located in or out of state), that use 'gestation crates,' while also setting the highest space requirements for pregnant pigs in the United States.

3. Continues the law from Prop 2 and AB 1437, requiring that hens can turn around and spread their wings, while also extending that mandate to include the sale of liquid eggs, and also banning the sale of any eggs (liquid or shelled), from any facilities that cage hens; essentially requiring all eggs sold in California come from cage-free hens. Prop 12 also requires that hens are given enrichments like nesting boxes and perches; which allow essential natural behaviors, such as perching and dust bathing.

Proposition 12 includes a specific phase-in schedule to safeguard family farmers, with the final implementation of all requirements being effective December 31, 2021.

Invaluable Benefits For Animals and Residents

The cost to produce eggs from cage-free hens is estimated by the egg industry of being approximately one to two pennies more per egg. Which is likely why when McDonald's announced they were going cage-free, they did not raise their prices for their egg products.

And according to an Iowa State University study, raising mother pigs outside of crates is surprisingly more affordable than the inhumane alternative.

The benefits of Proposition 12 also extends to the health of residents. When writing about cage-free requirements, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) stated, "This will result in significantly less stress and disease for the hens, and also lead to a better final product for consumers. The severely constrained hens in these stacked wire cages are often covered in feces from birds in overhead cages, and are prone to drowning in manure trenches that run under cages and into pipelines. Unsurprisingly, battery cage eggs are 25 times more likely to harbor Salmonella than their cage-free counterparts, and eggs are the leading cause of Salmonella poisoning, infecting 142,000 Americans every year."

The increased risk of spreading Salmonella is not only a health risk to humans, but also leads to medical expenses, and increases of insurance premiums.

A Vital and Impactful Step

While it may not mean open fields and blue skies, every inch makes a difference in the daily lives of animals living in the darkness of factory farms, who without this measure, would also endure a lifetime of confinement within tiny, coffin-like cages.

This past election day, millions of California residents took a stand for what is right for animals and humans, by voting for Proposition 12; the constitutional law that grants thousands upon thousands of animals who are sacrificed for consumption, the right to extend their legs and spread their wings, outside of the cages that used to confine them. An impactful and vital step in the right direction for animals, non-human and humankind.


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