The evidence is clear – battery cages cannot possibly provide an acceptable standard of welfare for layer hens.
Seventy per cent of Australians are concerned about hens in battery cages and almost half choose to purchase cage free eggs at the supermarket. While all our major supermarkets have pledged to phase out caged eggs over the next few years, there is still cause for concern regarding eggs used in food manufacturing, catering, restaurants and cafes. It is estimated that eighty per cent of eggs used in these services are derived from battery caged hens. A number of restaurants and service providers have pledged to go cage-free in response to consumer demands. This shows the power we have as every day consumers to create change for animals.
Unfortunately however, the individual or company-by-company approach will not be enough to end the suffering of hens in Australia. Caged eggs are still being used in common processed foods like mayonnaise and sauce and consumers have very little power to change this or avoid these products completely. This is why we need an industry-wide phase out to end these cruel and unnecessary enclosures for good.
Animal welfare standards are currently under review by the Australian Government. Legislators have the opportunity to introduce uniform minimum standards for cage-free systems that are up to date with the latest animal welfare science. A national phase out for battery cages, enacted through legislation, is the best way to effect the required changes as quickly as possible and stop the unnecessary pain and suffering of hens. This would simply speed up the inevitable process of banning the battery cage here in Australia. We are already moving much slower than other developed nations in terms of animal welfare standards.
The entire European Union and our close New Zealand neighbours began phasing out battery cages in 2012. Meanwhile in Australia, caged layer hen farming still makes up more than sixty per cent of total egg production. We must act now to avoid falling any further behind international standards and community expectations. Self-regulation within the egg industry is not sufficient to ensure the welfare of our layer hens. Now is the time for battery cages to cease in Australia.
Support legislation to ban the battery cage by joining the movement online athttps://www.rspca.org.au/end-the-battery-cage. Share your call for change by using #endthebatterycage on your social media.
Read more about layer hen welfare in the latest issue of The Biscuit – RSPCA’s new magazine for animal lovers.
Lucy is a Law and Communications student at QUT. She is passionate about improving the lives of animals and inspiring others to make a difference. Lucy hopes to use her skills to improve animal welfare laws and regulations and ensure the humane treatment of all creatures great and small is a national priority.