Cage free eggs

Summary Regulatory Requirements in Colorado Law: 

HB20-1343 established enclosure requirements for farm owners or operators for eggs and egg products sold in Colorado.  It also prohibits the business owner from selling or transporting for sale in Colorado eggs and egg products that are not from a cage-free farm.  The rule establishes a certification process for confirming farms are cage-free and outlines a recordkeeping process to affirm eggs sold in Colorado are from a certified farm.  

Julie Mizak
Program Manager
303-869-9099

Q: What do I need to have in place by January 1, 2023?
A: Farm owners must have enclosure measurements of no less than 1 sq. ft per egg-laying hen for all farmers or operators that produce eggs to be sold or distributed in Colorado beginning January 1, 2023. 

Q: What do I need to have in place by January 1, 2025?  
A: Farm owners will need to transition to a “cage-free housing system” as defined in statute by January 1, 2025.  

Q: What is a cage-free housing system? 
A:  A "Cage-free housing system" means an indoor or outdoor controlled environment for egg-laying hens to which all of the following apply:

  1. For an indoor environment, the egg-laying hens are free to roam unrestricted except by the following:
          a.  Exterior walls; and
          b.  Interior fencing used to contain the entire egg-laying hen flock within the building or subdivide flocks into smaller groups 
               if farm employees can walk through each contained or subdivided area to provide care to egg-laying hens and if each 
               egg-laying hen in a multi-tiered system or a ratio of 1.5 sq. ft. per egg-laying hen for a system that does not have vertical
               space or elevated platforms.
  2. Egg-laying hens are provided enrichments that allow them to exhibit natural behaviors, including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes, and dust bathing areas; and
  3. Farm employees can provide care while standing within the egg-laying hens' usable floor space.

Q: What is not considered a cage free system?
A: “Cage-free housing system” does not include systems commonly described as battery cages, colony cages, enriched cages, enriched colony cages, modified cages, convertible cages, furnished cages, or similar cage systems.
 
Q: How long do farmers and business owners have to transition to a cage free system?
A: Farmers and business owners will have two years to transition to a cage free system.

Q: What if I operate a farm with fewer than 3,000 egg-laying hens?
A: The enclosure requirements do not apply to farming operations with 3,000 or fewer egg-laying hens. 
 

Q: What is required of my business by January 1, 2023?
A: A business owner may not knowingly sell or transport for sale in Colorado eggs or egg products that were produced by a hen that was confined in a manner not compliant with the enclosure requirements described above.   

Q: What is required of my business by January 1, 2025?
A: A business owner may not knowingly sell or transport for sale in Colorado eggs or egg products that were produced by a hen that was confined in a manner not compliant with the enclosure requirements described above.   

Q: What if the eggs I sell are from farms with 3,000 or fewer egg-laying hens?
A: The business owner requirements do not apply if eggs sold are from farms with 3,000 or fewer egg-laying hens or:

Q: What if each of my business locations sells fewer than 25 cases of thirty dozen shell eggs per week?
A: The business owner requirements do not apply if each business location owned by or operated by the business owner sells fewer than 25 cases of thirty dozen shell eggs per week.

Q: What if all of my business locations collectively sell fewer than one hundred cases of thirty dozen shell eggs per week?
A: The business owner requirements do not apply if all business locations owned by or operated by the business owner or operator collectively sell fewer than one hundred cases of thirty dozen shell eggs per week.  
 

Q: What is required of a farm owner?
A: Farm owners must obtain a certificate from the CDA that affirms that eggs produced are compliant with regulations. 
 
Q: What is the certification process?
A: Farm owners (including out of state operations) will have a government provider or private inspection provider conduct an examination of their operations to ensure compliance. Once certified, the farm owner will submit proof of compliance to the CDA and receive a CDA Certification.

Q: What is required of a business owner?
A: The business owner must receive a copy of the certificate and retain a copy for their records.  In lieu of a certificate of compliance, shell eggs and egg products entering the state or transported within the state for sale may be accompanied with title documents that include the statement “CO-COM”.

Q: What kind of records are required of a farm owner?
A: Farm owners must keep records of their production, and sale of shell eggs and egg products, in sufficient detail to document that egg-laying hens were confined in compliance with the Act and the requirements of the rules.

Q: What kind of records are required of a business owner?
A: Business owners must obtain a copy of the certificate of compliance from the farm owner or title documents received from the farm owner or operator that indicate the lot of shell eggs or egg products is compliant with the Act.

Q: How long do records need to be retained?
A: Records must be retained for two years.

Q: How long is the certification effective?
A: The certification will expire on December 31 of each calendar year.  The farm owner must renew their certification annually.  

Q: Do I have to label my cartons?
A: Yes, the side of each container of all shell eggs and egg products for sale, or destined for sale, in Colorado shall contain the statement “CO-COM”.