Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90
Free-range chickens in Itamar, Samaria, April 9, 2012.

Israel’s Ministries of Agriculture and Finance on Wednesday reached agreements with the egg-laying poultry breeders that promote the reform of the poultry industry.

In the main points of the agreements, the planning in the egg-laying industry will be completed within 10 years, but, if necessary, the agriculture minister could extend that period by another three years. Customs duties on egg imports will be reduced by 50% immediately, to 15 agorot, and later to 14 agorot.


The main reform promoted by the agreements has received the support of the breeders for regulations promoting the transition to cage-free coops. This will provide Israeli consumers with eggs that are safe to use while maintaining public health, and the health and well-being of the chickens.

Coops that have installed modern, more spacious coops, can continue operating them for another 15 years, before moving to cage-free breeding.

Free-range chickens in Itamar, Samaria, April 9, 2012. / Nati Shohat/FLASH90

In cage-free breeding, the chickens are kept in a coop from which there is an exit to a large yard, where the chickens can roam freely. Chickens raised by these methods are sometimes called “free-range chickens,” and the eggs they lay are called in Israel “freedom eggs,” or organic eggs.

A survey conducted in 2020 by the Geocartography Institute for the Animals Association showed significant public support for stopping the confinement of chickens in cages. The data showed that 93% of the public believe that imprisoning animals in a crowded cage for the rest of their lives constitutes abuse. 95% want chicken coops without cages. And 94% agree that the government should act to reduce the harm to animals on industrialized farms.

Under the new Agriculture Ministry regulations, any new coop built in Israel will be without cages. And as of June 1, 2029, all cage coops will be banned. Also, debeaking – beak trimming of the egg-laying hens after they leave the hatchery will be banned. Debeaking will only be permitted while the chicks are in the hatchery, and it must be performed most beneficially, to prevent them from injuring each other.

In addition, the new regulations require medical attention or euthanasia to prevent the suffering of hens who have been injured by a poultry worker and stipulate the grower’s obligation to consult a veterinarian or a poultry breeding guide in any case of an abnormal event. An abnormal event is defined as a case in which mortality in a coop exceeds 0.25% per day or a drop in egg laying in excess of 10% per day or 5% within three days.

To promote the transition to cage-free coops, in accordance with the new regulations, the egg-laying industry will be upgraded to the tune of approximately NIS 760 million ($220 million). Breeders who choose to leave the industry rather than implement the new regulations will receive revenue of up to NIS 100 million, depending on the number of eggs in their quota, with the price of each egg set at 1.5 NIS. (43¢).

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