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Research: Free range chickens are not happier

Researchers have discovered that free range hens experience just as much or more stress than hens raised in modern, conventional cages. This is contrary to allegations of animal rights activists saying that hens in modern cages live a horribly stressed life.


Dr Jeff Downing at the University of Sydney, conducted a recent study measuring corticosterone, a hormone produced in response to stress or fear, in eggs from free range and modern caged hens. In both types of eggs, levels of the hormone were similar.

The researchers explained that free range hens have other problems to deal with than hens in modern cages such as attack from outside predators and extreme weather conditions.

In addition, hens in modern cages also are protected from many of the manure-borne diseases and parasites that affect free range hens.

Modern cages also help prevent infection and spread of the avian influenza virus which can affect wild birds and outdoor flocks of hens.

"This study confirms what America's egg farmers already knew," said Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers, America's leading trade association for family egg farmers.

Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers, commented that the study confirms what egg farmers already were aware of - i.e. that "well-run, clean modern cage housing systems have many benefits for hens as well as consumers."

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