Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Crazed Calif. Law Requiring Luxury Hen Houses Could Cause a Nationwide Decline of 10 Million Egg-Laying Chickens

WaPo has the latest:
A new regulation is set to take effect in California at the beginning of next year that will force hen houses to allocate significantly more room to each egg-laying chicken.

Birds, long afforded a minimum of only 67 square inches a piece, will now need roughly 116 square inches—a more than 70 percent increase—if eggs are to be sold in the state...

Egg prices could jump by as much as 20 percent in California as a result of the the new rules, Dermot J. Hayes, an agribusiness professor at Iowa State University in Ames, told Bloomberg.

The mere anticipation of the change has already driven prices up by more than $0.25 over the past month in California...

But California's new regulations could lead to more expensive eggs nationally, too.

Nearly a third of the eggs Californians consume are laid elsewhere. And Californians consume a lot of eggs—the state is home to more than 10 percent of the country's population, and, as a result, a sizable chunk of U.S. egg consumption. The state's inability to meet that demand is only expected to grow more severe as a result of the new regulation.

"There aren't enough birds in California to meet the state's egg demands," said Brian Moscogiuri, an egg market reporter at commodity market news and analysis firm Urner Barry. "This could reduce the already short supply, and create an egg shortage locally."

It could also lead chicken farmers elsewhere—primarily those in big egg producing states, like Iowa—to adjust and comply with California's new rule, either by increasing the amount of land designated for raising chickens, or decreasing the number of chickens they raise.

"Iowa has way more birds than it needs to produce the eggs consumed locally," said Moscogiuri. "There's an incentive to meet California's regulations, especially if eggs sold in California are that much more expensive. If that's the case, that's going to compel a lot of egg producers to comply."

The result could mean the loss of some 10 million egg laying chickens (or roughly 3.3 percent of all egg laying chickens in the country), according to Scott Ramsdell, who owns Dakota Layers LLP, an egg farm in Flandreau, South Dakota.


  1. Looks like it may be worthwhile for me to put in a hen house myself and make some extra money selling eggs to my neighbors. I have a spot in my yard that will work fine but I haven't got around to it yet. I know at least 2 houses in my suburban CA neighborhood with hens and 1 has a rooster.

    1. I've got a hen house in my suburban back yard(rented house too). We use all the eggs, but now and then I give some away to neighbors, friends, etc. I've only got 4, but they produce quite a bit and city restrictions say I'm only supposed to have three anyway.

      I love it. Chickens are easy. The biggest thing, even in the burbs, is predators. But I've got a coop centered in a 10' x 10' x 6' dog kennel with the top covered in chicken wire and the only thing that managed to get in was a couple of weeks ago, a possum. I already knew he was hanging around as I whacked him off the back porch when he was younger early last summer, now he's full grown and found a way to weasel into the kennel around 10pm or so a couple of weeks ago....I opened the door and beat his ass with a broom handle while my 9 year old was shining a flash light on him and he hasn't been back. I've got one hen that squawks like a goose when there something wrong and she started making a racket when Mr. Possum got in there...so thankfully he hadn't done anything yet before I knocked him out of the kennel.

      My kids love the chickens too. Taking care of them is part of their daily chores for weekly allowance. They let them out to root around a minimum of a 30 minutes a day, but much longer when it's convenient. Thing is though, we've got owls & hawks that are living in the suburbs here feasting on squirrels and we have to keep an eye on the chickens when they are out as we've been buzzed by both while watching the chickens.

      I'm closing on a house tomorrow on 5 acres just outside of town in a semi-rural area...it should be interesting to see what predators pop up there.

  2. 116 square inches is less than 11"x11". Hardly what I'd call luxury for a chicken. Not that I support gov't regulations...

  3. The Cheap Labor Lobby and Chamber of Commerce sorts are busy e-mailing all "libertarians" to get all excited about the latest method to thwart Amnesty.

  4. So people who propose to advocate for the ethical treatment of animals, by their ignorance of economics, have caused what will likely be the deaths of 10 million chickens. I guess if you want to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs.