If you came to believe free-run or free-range housing was better for hens’ welfare than conventional cages, would you pay more for eggs laid in these housing systems?

And if so, how much?

Conventional egg production (Ontario Farm Animal Council)

University of Guelph researcher John Cranfield, a faculty member in the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics, asked this question to some 650 people in Guelph.

He discovered about 40 per cent of those surveyed said they would buy eggs from a free-run or a free-range system. As well, they said they would be willing to pay $1.67 to $1.71 per dozen more than the $2.15 per dozen cost of conventionally raised eggs (the price in June of 2008, when the questions were asked) if the hens producing them had more living space.

Respondents placed the highest value on a scenario that would give the birds about three times more room.

I write about his findings in my Urban Cowboy column in today’s Guelph Mercury.