Eggs that aren’t laid in a cage-free facility will soon begin disappearing from Colorado grocery store shelves, thanks to a law passed in 2020 that takes effect in 2023.
HB20-1343 requires businesses to stop selling eggs produced by hens in cramped spaces. Instead, farmers must ensure each chicken has one square foot of floor space by 2025.
Mark Gallegos, the inspections director at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said three main companies need to meet the new requirements.
“That represents more than 90% of the egg production in Colorado just from those three farms,” Gallegos said. “Those three farms have multiple facilities throughout the state.”
Farms that own less than 3,000 egg-laying hens are exempt from the new law. Farms that own chickens that are used for meat and other purposes are also exempt.
Grocery stores within Colorado will soon begin phasing out non-compliant eggs. Non-cage-free eggs are usually among the cheapest options on shelves. Gallegos said it isn’t clear how prices will be affected once the new law goes into effect.
“There (are) a lot of factors,” he said. “You might see some changes in pricing as the different factors kind of play out that contribute to the supply of eggs.”
One of the variables at play is the persistent presence of avian flu. The outbreak of the highly pathogenic virus is deadly amongst commercial chicken flocks — entire facilities have to be put down if one case is discovered because of its near-perfect fatality rate, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.