Hens condemned to decades more suffering
6 December 2012
New Zealand's egg-laying hens will continue to be caged for life in a new cage system, which is condemned as cruel and unacceptable by animal welfare groups worldwide.
Animal advocacy group SAFE says hens have been badly let down by the Minister for Primary Industries David Carter with today's release of the new Code of Welfare for Layer Hens, and accuses him of prioritising the demands of a mere 47 farmers over the welfare of three million hens.
Standard barren battery cages will not be banned until 2023 and will then be replaced with colony cages - another type of battery cage. " Mr Carter's decision will appall all New Zealanders who care about animal welfare," says SAFE Director Hans Kriek. "This is a ridiculously long phase-out period for a system universally regarded as cruel, and is much longer than what is expected by the New Zealand public who want these cages banned now. Colony cages are condemned by international animal welfare agencies as inadequate and cruel so why allow these barbaric systems to become established here?"
Secrecy surrounds the colony cage system, with media being refused access to the one trial facility in the South Island, despite regular requests.
"Two years ago Mr Carter announced the end of sow stalls for pigs, yet today he has sentenced hens to cages indefinitely," says Mr Kriek.
Mr Kriek says that while the decision was expected, it is still hugely disappointing. "80 per cent of the public want battery cages banned yet industry and the Government refuse to respond to public concern."
Mr Kriek also warns the industry, "Caged hen farming will continue to be SAFE's primary focus for the Stop Factory Farming campaign as long as cages exist, as it is one of the worst forms of animal abuse in this country."
In response to the National Government's failure to ban cages, SAFE now seeks a commitment from the Labour Party to ban colony cages when in government.
SAFE will step up its consumer campaign. Shoppers will be encouraged to boycott cage eggs, retailers encouraged to move away from stocking them, and there will be increased demands for the introduction of mandatory labeling standards.