Hope for Hens? Agriculture Ministers Need to Get Cracking

The RSPCA is calling on Australian agriculture ministers meeting in Wellington, New Zealand tomorrow to follow their Kiwi counterparts’ decision to phase-out battery cages.

The New Zealand Government announced a six-year nationwide phase-out of battery cages in 2013.

The chairperson of New Zealand’s National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Dr John Hellstrom, said the scientific case against battery cages was clear.

“After reviewing the scientific literature, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee came to the conclusion that battery cages could not provide for the behavioural needs or freedom from distress that hens require under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.  We therefore advised the Minister for Primary Industries that battery cages should be phased out as soon as practicable.”

New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, followed the recommendation of the advisory body, saying that his Government was committed to getting layer hens out of battery cages. 

A December 2015 New Zealand government report indicated that the industry was making “solid progress” towards achieving the 2022 deadline, which would bring New Zealand into line with all 28 nations of the European Union, which banned battery cages in 2012.

RSPCA Australia’s Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said it was time for Australia to catch up.

“There are still 11 million hens confined in barren battery cages in Australia, with no legislative phase-out timeline in sight and no interest from the industry in changing.”

 “This is a national embarrassment that Australia’s agriculture ministers need to address urgently.”

“Tomorrow’s Agriculture Ministers Forum (AGMIN) meeting provides a vital opportunity for this discussion to take place, and for Australian Agriculture Ministers to follow  New Zealand.”

“Hens suffer every day in battery cages wherever they are. If New Zealand can end their use, so can we.”

 “McCrindle market research commissioned by RSPCA Australia found that 72% of Australians are concerned about keeping hens in battery cages”.

“Australia’s Agriculture Ministers must respond to growing public demand and place the phase-out of battery cages firmly on the AGMIN agenda”.

“As the New Zealand example shows, it’s up to governments to take the lead and respond to consumer sentiment. The egg industry has no intention of voluntarily phasing out the use of battery cages, so it’s up to governments to respond and get rid of them forever”.