Utah Law Requires Cage-Free Systems by 2025
On March 17, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox signed Senate Bill (SB) 147 into law, which requires that egg-laying hens be kept in cage-free systems by 2025. Senator Scott D. Sandall (D-Box Elder) sponsored SB 147 with Representative Joel Ferry (R-Box Elder); both are members of Utah’s farm-rancher community.
Beginning on January 1, 2025, a farm owner or operator may not knowingly confine egg-laying hens in an enclosure that is not a cage-free housing system or that has less than the amount of usable floor space per hen as required by the 2017 edition of the United Egg Producers’ Animal Husbandry Guidelines, which establish 1 to 1.5 square feet of floor space per hen. The bill prohibits egg producers from confining hens to cages, and also requires farmers to provide hens perches, next boxes, scratching areas, and other amenities that allow them to “exhibit natural behaviors.” Battery cages, enriched colony cages, modified cages, convertible cages, furbished cages, and other such cage systems are prohibited. However, a farm with fewer than 3,000 egg-laying hens is exempt.
With the passage of SB 147, Utah is the eighth state to implement cage-free housing requirements, and joins Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Colorado in banning battery cages. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Serving, nearly 30% of the industry is cage-free.