Sunday's New York Times has cracked open story on the latest US consumer fad. Cage-free eggs, "from chickens raised in large, open barns instead of stacks of small wire cages, have become the latest addition to menus at universities, hotel chains like Omni and cafeterias at companies like Google. The Whole Foods supermarket chain sells nothing else, and even Burger King is getting in on the trend."
Apparently there are shortages as a result of the spike in demand. And, as you'd expect, the egg industry had originally moved to chicken skyscrapers (lap-top sized cages, stacked in rows, warehouse-like) because of reduced capital and operating costs. Now, because of consumer awareness, they are being asked to flatten not the cost structure, but the chicken houses, putting the bird herd (our term for flightless avian roamers) on the loose.
The unanswered question is: how does this trend affect chicken manure management options? Hopefully poop power, as enabled by the caged operations, will be pursued as well.