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The issue

The practice of keeping layer hens in barren battery cages is arguably the worst animal welfare issue in Australia today. Over 10 million smart and social layer hens suffer for their entire lives in battery cages.

For a hen to have a good life, she needs the freedom to move around, to stretch, flap her wings, perch and bathe in dust to keep her skin and feathers clean and healthy. Importantly, she needs to be able to lay her eggs in a nest.

She can’t do any of these things in a battery cage.

Even with the best management, good animal welfare can’t be achieved in a barren battery cage. The independent science and evidence repeatedly confirms this.

That’s why battery cages are being phased out all over the world. But Australia is lagging behind.

The national Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are currently under review for the first time in over a decade.

This is the time for state and territory governments to step up, acknowledge the science, respond to the community, and finally end this cruel and outdated farming practice.

There is no place in modern Australian farming for barren battery cages.

What needs to change

The RSPCA has been calling for an end to the battery cage in Australia for decades.

We advocate for a transition to cage-free production systems that meet all the hens’ health and welfare needs while allowing them to exhibit important natural behaviours.

In addition to calling on governments to phase out the battery cage, the RSPCA encourages Australians to support those producers doing the right thing, by choosing cage-free eggs on the supermarket shelf, as ingredients in grocery products, and when you’re eating out.

The RSPCA is also working closely with farmers committed to producing cage-free eggs, through the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. Since releasing our first animal welfare standards for layer hens in 1996, more than 1.3 million hens have benefitted from better conditions on farm.