Chicken rights

Should chickens have the freedom to flap their wings?

That’s at the heart of a hearing in Washington today on whether there should be federal guidelines for the size of chicken coops and nests. The hearing was held on a California senator’s proposal for federal standards, even as states are imposing separate standards. That’s made it difficult for the egg industry, which frequently ships to many different states.

The proposed federal legislation is modeled after California, which passed a law that hens be able to stretch their wings and turn around.

The federal legislation initiative picked up a little steam after the Humane Society released this video — yes, it’s gross — detailing where a lot of your eggs come from.

A group representing big egg producers says it can live with a deal being cut. Smaller producers say it’ll drive them out of business.

A Republican on the panel cited a similar effort in Europe, where egg prices went up and the supply went down. But supporters say the legislation gives farmers 18 years to figure out how to design a coop that allows a hen to turn around.

That they would need 18 years to do it may speak to a larger problem.