McDonald’s USA is participating in a commercial-scale study of housing alternatives for egg-laying hens.
The study, which expects to involve tens of thousands of hens, will look at the sustainability impacts of different laying hen housing environments on animal health and well-being, safe and affordable food, the environment, and worker welfare, according to a release.
Along with McDonald’s, the multi-stakeholder coalition advising the study includes the American Humane Association (AHA), Americ an Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cargill Incorporated, and the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).
The goal of the study is to understand the viability of alternate housing systems in the U. S., including cage-free and “enriched housing,” which includes nests and perches, as well as the housing environments used by McDonald’s current supply system in the U.S.
“There’s a very compelling need for a study of this scope,” said Marie Wheatley, president and CEO, American Humane Association. “While scientists indicate there are benefits for laying hen birds to be able to demonstrate more natural behaviours associated with a cage-free environment, there are open questions on other animal welfare matters such as feather pecking and mortality rates.”