Our role

The state and territory member Societies provide services to animals in need through their shelters and inspectorates. In the national office, RSPCA Australia works to influence animal welfare policy, practice and legislation across the country
Go to Our role

Key issues

The RSPCA advocates for the welfare of animals across a number of industries, issues and platforms. Help from our supporters is important to progress change. Working together is key.
Go to Key issues
take action live sheep export alternate
Priority issue
We are closer than ever to finally…
Live sheep export

Support us

Whether you're an individual or a business, there are multiple ways you can support the RSPCA
Go to Support us
An animal in the RSPCA care being cared for by an RSPCA vet
Donate now to support your local RSPCA and make a difference to animal welfare across Australia


The RSPCA is an independent, community-based charity providing animal care and protection services across the country.
Go to About
about us national statistics
Read our National Statistics
Compiled on a national basis by RSPCA…
Annual statistics


By choosing adoption, you’ll not only have the chance to make a friend for life, but you’ll be giving an animal a second chance and helping support the RSPCA.
Go to Adopt
adopt a pet logo
Visit the Adopt A Pet website
Make a difference to a pet’s life today.
Search Adoptapet

Freeing Aussie Hens from Cages - The story so far...

Generic Avatar
  • RSPCA Australia
  • Thursday, 28 June 2018

In the coming months, Aussie hens will need you to stand up and act for them more than ever. And we will be here to help you fight for their lives.

2018 is about to get serious for getting hens out of cages with each state and territory set to decide on whether to phase out cruel cages once and for all. Before you start making a flap for hens, here is a snapshot of the past year and the rollercoaster of events so far.

It’s an important reminder for why we must continue to fight for hens.

Sign up now for updates on the cage fight ahead.


After previously raising concerns about the failure of the poultry standards advisory group to consider and reflect the science on battery cages, the RSPCA stepped up and conducted its own review.

The Welfare of Layer Hens in Cage and Cage-Free Housing Systems report – authored by Dr Kate Hartcher – found overwhelming scientific evidence that hens in battery cages live with frustration and suffering from being unable to flap or stretch their wings, perch, nest, forage, or dust bathe.

The findings of the report were that the poor welfare of battery caged hens is caused by the cages themselves and cannot be overcome; and Australia is falling behind the developed world in failing to end their use.

(Dr Hartcher’s report was later comprehensively peer-reviewed and published in a leading international poultry welfare journal)


Concerned about the disappointing response and lack of progress from the egg industry, the RSPCA launched a national billboard campaign to raise awareness of the plight of 11 million smart, social layer hens still kept in crowded, barren battery cages.

A dozen billboards in key locations across the country depicted the haunting black and white image of hens in a barren battery cage. The accompanying text was simple and true: ‘Battery cages cause suffering.’


The RSPCA’s concerns over the poultry standards development process are proven to be well-founded, with the first wave of extensive media coverage highlighting the failings of the process so far and raising serious questions over the integrity of the group.

For the first time in its history, RSPCA Australia flags that - if these serious concerns aren’t satisfactorily addressed – it will reconsider its involvement and support for the process altogether.

MARCH 2017

Echoing the rising concerns about the validity of the new standards if not based on science, the Victorian Government takes the extraordinary step of conducting its own scientific review.

While the Victorian Government remained committed to the process, the decision was a strong indication that the government felt it could not rely on the standards development process to inform its decision-making.


Australian restaurant chain Grill’d Healthy Burgers become a major ally in the fight against cruelty in farming, and joins the RSPCA’s campaign to actively support an end to battery cages in Australia.

Grill’d restaurants across the country have only served free range eggs since they opened their doors in 2004.


The results of the Victorian Government’s scientific review are released, and – consistent with the RSPCA’s own report – it finds good animal welfare cannot be achieved in battery cages.

The review stated that, “The conventional cage system prevents birds from performing basic movements essential for good health (walking, wing stretching), and denies birds the possibility of expressing their behavioural needs to roost, nest and forage, or their motivation to dust-bathe, due to an inherent lack of resources.

It also said the restricted space per hen in battery cages is “associated with increased mortality, an increase in physiological stress and compromised immune function.”


As the opening of public consultation on the draft standards loomed, the RSPCA warned that poor standards and lack of science would only jeopardise Australia’s farming future.

The RSPCA said Australians and consumers are at risk of being misled by weak and inadequate standards that are easily debunked by science and do not reflect community expectations.

The statement follows the publication of RSPCA Australia Scientific Officer Dr Kate Hartcher’s review, The welfare of layer hens in cage and cage-free systems, on the World’s Poultry Science Journalwhere even today, it remains the ‘most read’ article!

Meanwhile, the RSPCA published breakthrough independent research which found that the number of Australians concerned about the welfare of battery-caged layer hens had increased to 3 in every 4, and an overwhelming 8 in 10 of us want to see battery cages phased out.

Respected former politician, lawyer and now Chair of RSPCA Australia Gary Humphries also voiced strong concerns about problems in the process used to develop new farming Standards and Guidelines, saying any ‘animal welfare’ component had been ignored entirely.

On 26 November, the long-overdue public consultation on new poultry standards opened, and as expected, the standards are inadequate and not based on science or evidence.

Unwilling to link its valuable reputation to the ‘weak and embarrassing’ draft standards, the RSPCA was forced to vocally distance itself from the process.


The Australian egg industry was rocked by reports of the egg industry colluding with Government departments to sabotage the efforts to phase out cruel battery cages. Behind-the-scenes collusion and inappropriate behaviour was exposed on ABC’s 7:30.


FOI documents of executive emails between state Government departments revealed the level of ‘stage-managing’ that had been taking place to influence the drafting of new poultry welfare standards to benefit the egg industry.


As the public consultation came to a close, independent research commissioned by the RSPCA found income and education wasn’t necessarily a factor in influencing whether Australians are concerned about battery cages and wanting to see them phased out.

Research also proved there was no city/country divide when it came to caring about hen welfare. 82% of rural Australians, and 72% of Australians in regional centres are concerned or very concerned about battery cages.

As part of their submission to the consultation, Egg Farmers of Australia (EFA) announced a “temporarily regulated cap on current conventional cage farming.” However, this is only temporary and cage egg farming continues with business as usual with 9 million hens still forced to live their lives in a cage.

The public consultation closed on Monday 26 February. Over 165,000 submissions were received from concerned Australians, and many were outraged that the draft standards failed to include a phase-out of battery cages despite the overwhelming science stating that cages are cruel.

What now?

Soon, we expect to receive the report on the public consultation, and the draft Standards will subsequently be updated in response.

These Standards must reflect the science and the input of the community – if they don’t, you’ll be hearing about it from us!

Sign up now to stay up to date with all future news and developments.

subscribe box

Stay informed on big issues and how you can help improve animal welfare across Australia.

Subscribe today and we’ll keep you updated on all the latest campaigns, events and news.