On 2nd April 2024, the Scottish government announced a new public consultation on the use of cages to keep egg-laying hens by the animal agriculture industry. The use of battery cages for farmed birds was banned in the UK in 2012, but more than 1.1 million chickens in Scotland are still kept in “enriched cages”, which are slightly bigger. The Scottish government’s preference is for a ban on the installation of new enriched cages from 2033, followed by a complete ban on keeping birds in enriched cages from 2034, but the consultation also seeks views on banning the use of enriched cages from 2030. A non-regulatory option, with shops and caterers committing to stop selling and using eggs from birds kept in enriched cages by 2034, will be also proposed in the consultation.

Agriculture minister Jim Fairlie said that if any of these bans are implemented Scotland would be “leading the way in improving the welfare of animals…Significant progress has already been made in recognising the importance of animal welfare – both in government policies and the demand from the public in the choice they make when shopping.”

A 2020  survey found that 88% of UK residents believed that using cages in farming was cruel, and 77% supported a complete ban on their use.

Mark Borthwick, World Animal Protection policy manager, said to the BBC: “We’re pleased to see Scotland leading the way in consulting on the ban of cages for laying hens which are still in use in the UK. Enriched cages for laying hens will be banned in other countries including in Germany in 2025, in Czechia by 2027 and in Slovakia by 2030. France has banned the installation of any new cages. The UK is behind, and the other nations are slipping behind even further. It is time to end the use of cages which restrict animals’ natural behaviours and cause great suffering.”

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.