Insights on hen housing by renowned expert, Dr. Temple Grandin

January 12, 2017

In animal welfare, only one name transcends all industries, outlooks and organizations – Temple Grandin. Her insights are welcomed by many in the animal agriculture industry because she is uniquely knowledgeable and practical. Thus, Temple’s participation in the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) study group and her support for enriched colony cages (as discussed in her book Animals Make Us Human) was very meaningful to the egg community.

UEP’s Sarah Wilbourn contacted Dr. Grandin just before the Christmas holidays to begin a dialogue that is likely to continue over the months and years ahead. Early in the conversation about how the industry is responding to cage-free announcements, Temple mentioned seeing an article in Fortune magazine featuring Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch. Temple liked what she saw and read about how the Herbruck’s manage cage-free flocks and accepted an offer to visit the farm.

Sarah and Temple met to visit the Herbruck operation in Saranac, Mich. After a brief discussion on overall approach, Temple had an opportunity to go into barns housing cage-free flocks. She spent a substantial amount of time studying the aviary system, observing hen behavior and asking questions.

Overall, Temple was supportive of the multi-tiered aviary concept, believed that these hens “have a life worth living” (an increasingly common expectation of those in the animal welfare world), and appreciated the technologies and practices being implemented in modern cage-free production. Temple shared her belief that the modern system has solved many of the problems that occurred with earlier cage-free designs. Though Temple’s support of the enriched colony system has not wavered, she believes that producing cage-free eggs in multi-tiered aviary systems can work as long as producers remain diligent in caring for hens and continue to learn and adopt best practices.