Top egg farmers of the United States, like Hillandale Farms, are committed to making sure that their hens avail the best possible care and attention. United Egg Producers (UEP) has developed guidelines for the optimal well-being of the eggs in order to demonstrate this commitment. Their guidelines are backed by decades of recommendations and research from an independent Scientific Advisory Committee.
Hillandale Farms underlines the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare addressed by UEP
There are five major Freedoms of Animal Welfare addressed by the UEP Certified Program in order to ensure excellent quality of care, and overall life for the hens. This freedom includes:
Freedom from hunger and thirst: Fresh feed and water must be available to hens at all times. This rule has been designed to make sure that the hens have adequate sustenance available to keep them healthy and energetic. The specifics of their diet would depend on the age and breed of the hen, and if they have any specific health conditions or not.
Freedom from discomfort: Hens should be kept in a healthy and safe environment that keeps them protected from elements like rain. A comfortable resting area should be made available to the hens, along with adequate access to natural light. Hens should be provided with a housing that protects them from environmental extremes and provides a continuous flow of fresh air. Proper temperature and suitable noise levels must also be monitored and supplied. Special care has to be taken to make sure that their food and water bowls are properly maintained.
Freedom from pain, injury, or disease: UEO has standards in place to help ensure hens stay healthy and to mitigate potentially painful medical treatments. In case any medical procedures are undertaken at all, they are done to improve the general welfare of the hens. The constant monitoring of hens is important to pick up on injury or illnesses quickly.
Freedom to express normal behavior: In addition to the ability to regularly eat and drink, hens must have the freedom to move throughout their cages, as well as interact with other hens. UEP cage-free standards require hens to be provided with the opportunity to express natural behaviors such as dust bathing and scratching. Some hens may want to avoid others, and that must be respected as well.
Freedom from fear and distress: The fifth freedom points out that the mental health of the hens is as important as its physical health. Hence, UEP recommends proper methods to be implemented to help hens be free of fear and distress from other hens. This may include the separation of hens into cages, or in cage-free systems, while providing access to appropriate perches.
UEP has zero tolerance for willful acts of abuse and neglect. All UEP Certified egg producers like Hillandale Farms implement a policy enforcing this commitment. They make sure to abide by the Code of Conduct committing to this requirement. This goes a long way in making sure of the well-being and good health of the hens.