Our concern for the humane treatment of chickens rested on two issues: chickens are aggressive toward one another and will kill or maim one another when overcrowded. Highly crowded cages made attacks commonplace. This led to the egg industry’s practice of debeaking – cutting part of the beaks off – to prevent chickens from seriously harming one another.
Proposition 2 called for changes in cage sizes that would stop over crowding and thereby reduce the need for debeaking. Space requirements for each chicken ere based on animal behavior: be able to spread wings, turn around, lie down all without interfering with other chickens, set a decent standard of care.
Proposition 12 reverses that legal standard. While it calls for “cage free” as a goal, it permits vastly reduced space per chicken and still does not outlaw debeaking and other inhumane practices. Rather than basing the standard on chicken behavior, it requires 1 foot square of space per bird, far too small a space even in “cage free” settings. This is a setback in the humane treatment of chickens
As in the earlier Proposition 2, standards for other farm animals is not seriously at issue in Prop 12. To regress on the standards for chickens and undermine what we already passed in compassion is totally unacceptable.