My local kosher store sells eggs from caged hens which probably means that there no halachic prohibition of eating these eggs.

As it seems cruel to keep hens in such a manner:

  • Is it forbidden to actually farm eggs this way? (Is keeping chickens in cramped conditions "cruel" therefore forbidden. Or are the only prohibitions the ones mentioned in Torah / Shas) -
  • If so, is it forbidden to non-Jews too. (Again, does their prohibition of Eiver Min Ha-Chai extend to cover all cruelty to animals, and thus this).
  • Should it be at least discouraged, if not forbidden, to make use of these products? (If it is forbidden to farm them, then buying them would potentially be Lifnei Iver, putting a stumbling block, as you are creating business for the person doing it).
  • Rashi is said to have prohibited the traditional method of feeding geese for foie gras. The two points I will bring on that are 1) generations of bubbies have enlisted the same techniques to feed their grandchildren and 2) all of the foie gras I've seen with a hechsher employs this traditional method (otherwise, the cost would be significantly higher). See here for more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foie_gras#Production_methods Aug 2, 2016 at 0:29
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt generations of bubbies have enlisted the same techniques I assume you're being facetious, because that's not true; .25 kg of rich feed mix is pumped into a goose's stomach in a few seconds, damaging its stomach and causing an increase in mortality rate. I guess there are some rabbis willing to certify foie gras, but the process is cruel (more cruel than caging hens, IMO). Here's the Rashi you cited (Bava Basra 73b): "ליתן עליהם את הדין. שבחטאתם מתעכב משיח ויש להם צער בעלי חיים לאותן אווזים מחמת שומנן"
    – Fred
    Aug 3, 2016 at 1:38
  • @Fred, unfortunately, I can't claim credit to the generations of bubbies quip, although I certainly wasn't being serious. I've heard that in Rashi's day, it was a method of having a nutrient rich food if they needed to run. I personally have eaten foie gras and I can understand why most ignored (if not countermanded) Rashi's psak. Aug 3, 2016 at 2:06
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Are most Jews so subservient to their gastronomical urges that they let them override their dedication to Judaism?? What does how good it tastes have to do with determining Halakha?
    – Double AA
    Aug 3, 2016 at 18:58
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    Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/84451/759
    – Double AA
    Jan 3, 2019 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


The basic answer is that Rav Moshe Feinstein (among others) forbade treating animals in this way. However, if someone violates the isur of tzaar baalei chaim, the animal itself does not "become nonkosher" or asur in any way. As a practical matter, certain animals (such as veal) do tend to be treifah because of the physical results of their mistreatment. However, that would not apply to eggs.

Specifically, the anwer to your two (different) questions would seem to be

  1. It would be asur to treat the hens in a way that is defined as tzaar baailei chaim if eggs can be produced without such a method.

  2. It would be a practical matter to discourage using such eggs in order to encourage proper behavior. However, (as with veal) the Rabbis did not issue an explicit takana against using such eggs.

Rabbi Jonathan Blass was asked this question in general and answered

22 Tevet 5763 Kosher Meat and Tzaar Baalei Chayim

Rabbi Jonathan Blass


If in the process of Shechita there is a violation of tzaar baalei chayim, is it correct that the meat is treif?


Causing animals needless suffering is a serious offence (there is a difference of opinion as to whether it is forbidden by the Torah or by rabbinical edict). An animal that has suffered needlessly is not, however, rendered non-kosher unless one of its organs was damaged in a manner that would make it a treifa. Any suffering that is a necessary part of the shechita is not “needless” and would not be included in the prohibition against tzaar baalei chayim.

There are a number of sites that deal with the general halachos of this, but the above answer is the basic one that applies to your question. An example is given of veal in which the animal is raised under cruel conditions that lead to anemia. However, on a practical level, the cruelty will often lead to the animal used for veal (because it is so penned up and raised anemic) actually being a treifah because of lung lesions and other physical problems. Note that this applies to veal rather than chickens.

[Ask the Rabbi] (http://www.aish.com/atr/Eating_Veal.html)

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

There are different mitzvahs in the Torah which address different issues. "Kosher" has to do with the species of animal, the way it is slaughtered, and removal of the blood from the meat.

“Kosher" does not address the issue of conditions in which the animal is raised.

There is another mitzvah, however, which addresses your concern. "Tzar Baalei Chaim" is the Torah prohibition against causing pain to animals. And based on this, the great Rabbi Moshe Feinstein indeed forbade raising animals in cramped and painful conditions.

One final note: Interestingly, animals which are raised in cramped conditions and fed chemicals are frequently found to be NOT Kosher, due to various problems and disease found in the organs of these animals.

  • How do you know cramped conditions don't lend themselves to Tereifot in the chickens? I might have thought otherwise. Also, what makes you say supporting a sin is "just a practical matter" and not one of Halakha? What about Lifnei Iver, Mesayea or CM 356:1?
    – Double AA
    Aug 1, 2016 at 19:55
  • @DoubleAA Apparently the caging does not break the bones in the hens. Also from the question was why would the eggs be allowed to be eaten. For other reasons, one would have to read the full teshuva of Rav Moshe, which I do not have. Also, I did not say that it was only not allowed as a "practical matter", I said that over and above Rav Moshe forbidding it, it is also a practical matter not to raise the animals (veal) in such conditions as it causes treifot. As far as chickens, what treifot would cramped conditions cause? Aug 1, 2016 at 22:21

It seems that if the only profitable way of raising the animals/chickens is by making smaller enclosures for them, while we should encourage the animal owners to try and treat the animals the best they can, they are not transgressing Tzaar Baalei Chaim as the animals were meant to serve humans (i.e we don't want humans in poorer countries to lack poultry due to high costs) See Chevel Nachaloso 7,25 quoting Terumas Hadeshen (15th century Halachic compendium 2, 105:

תרומת הדשן (ח"ב סי' קה): "אם למרוט נוצות לאווזות חיים, אי דומה לגיזת כבשים או אי הוו צער בעלי חיים, גם לחתוך לשון העוף כדי שידבר, ואזנים וזנב מכלב כדי ליפותו. נראין הדברים דאין אסור משום צער בעלי חיים אם הוא עושה לצורכיו ולתשמישיו, דלא נבראו כל הבריות רק לשמש את האדם, כדאיתא פרק בתרא דקידושין (פב ע"א). ותדע דבפ' ב' דב"מ (לו ע"א) חשיב פריקה צער בעלי חיים, וא"כ היאך מותר משא כבד על בהמתו להוליכו ממקום למקום הא איכא צער בעלי חיים? וכ"ת אין הכי נמי, הא אמרינן התם דרבנן דר"י הגלילי סברו דאפילו תחת משאו שאין יכול לעמוד בו חייב לפרוק וכי ברשיעי עסקינן

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