In 2015, McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest and most iconic fast-food chains, agreed to switch 100% of the eggs that it purchases to only cage-free eggs in U.S. locations by 2025. This announcement followed a decades-long global movement against the extreme confinement of farm animals that the Humane Society of the United States helped spearhead, a movement that continues today. We rejoiced when the company made this commitment, as it had the potential to decrease the suffering of literally millions of hens every year. Having worked closely with McDonald’s on its animal welfare commitments, we were heartened this week by the company’s announcement that it had reached this goal early, at the end of 2023. 

The impact is nothing less than astronomical, as McDonald’s purchases nearly 2 billion eggs each year from agricultural supply chains for its U.S. locations. 

The standard practice on egg farms has been to cram hens together in “battery cage” systems, where, on average, each caged hen has less surface area than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life. These birds spend their whole lives without being able to engage in natural behavior, such as perching and dustbathing; they never even have the minimal satisfaction of being able to fully spread their wings.