Two weeks ago, SAFE New Zealand launched its Free Hens from Cages campaign to finally free all hens from cages. Chief Executive Officer Debra Ashton says, ‘New Zealand’s reputation as a country with high animal welfare standards is at risk when such cruel, antiquated farming systems continue to operate here. The time has come to practice what we preach and extend our kindness to hens by banning all cages’.
Why is the banning of cages important?
All animals deserve a life worth living, and hens are no exception. Confining hens in colony cages is not only cruel but completely unnecessary. Hens are intelligent, curious and socially complex birds, and like all animals, they have the need to display natural behaviours. In an outdoor environment, a hen will spend her days scratching at the earth, foraging for food, dust bathing, stretching her wings and basking in the sun. In New Zealand, over 1.2 million hens are not afforded these basic freedoms because they are intensively farmed in colony cages.
Battery cages will be illegal in New Zealand by 31 December 2022. Shockingly, colony cages will remain legal.
With up to 80 hens in each cage, colony cages are severely overcrowded. Each hen only has space about the size of an A4 piece of paper in which to live out her life. With so little room, hens can’t stretch their wings, move around freely, express normal hen behaviours or comfortably rest. These birds deserve a life worth living, yet the Government allows the egg industry to deny hens some of their most basic behavioural needs.New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that the physical health and behavioural needs of animals be met ‒ colony cages do not allow for this. Prolonged confinement, overcrowded conditions and inability to display normal behaviours contravenes the Act. On 13 November 2020, our High Court outlawed the confinement of mother pigs in farrowing crates on these exact same grounds.
Around the world, hens are being spared from a lifetime in cages by progressive politicians, yet hens in New Zealand continue to suffer.
Colony cages are either already banned or are being actively phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Walloon Region of Belgium. In the USA, eight states have already banned the sale and production of cage eggs.SAFE urge the public to help free New Zealand hens by signing their petition, calling for the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor to ban all caged hen farming in New Zealand. This petition will be delivered to the New Zealand Parliament on 31 March 2022.
Main article image from We Animals Media