years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Animals Asia opposes the use of conventional “battery” cages to house egg-laying hens. Instead, we advocate the use of non-cage production systems which provide higher welfare with small flock sizes, daytime outdoor access, and shelter from the elements and predators alike. Under such conditions, hens are able to carry out important natural behaviours.
Animals Asia supports a campaign led by Humane Society International (HSI) to ban the use of conventional “battery” cages in India which currently house over 200 million hens.
Science has proven hens are sentient animals that can feel pain. Conventional cages prevent hens from carrying out natural behaviours such as laying eggs in a nest, pecking and scratching the ground, dust-bathing and perching.
Caged housing is linked to reduced bone strength compared with barn, aviary, or free-range housing due to the lack the opportunity for caged birds to exercise. Hens can become paralysed and die from “cage layer osteoporosis”. Their bones may also be broken when pulled from their cages to be taken to slaughter.
Furthermore, feather loss due to feather pecking is more prevalent in caged birds. Birds housed in such close proximity peck and remove other birds’ feathers, preventing natural feather regrowth. This occurs even after the birds have been subjected to the painful de-beaking process. Wire flooring also causes birds’ claws to overgrow, in turn leading to foot injuries.
A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says: “Housing systems for hens differ in the possibilities for hens to show species-specific behaviours such as foraging, dust-bathing, perching and building or selecting a suitable nest. If hens cannot perform such high priority behaviours, this may result in significant frustration, or deprivation or injury, which is detrimental to their welfare.”
The EFSA report shows that the inability to behave naturally and the high levels of osteoporosis pose a particularly severe threat to the battery hens’ welfare. Another report, “Welfare implications of changes in production systems for laying hens” prepared for the European Commission, concludes that “the welfare of laying hens is severely compromised in conventional cages” and such cages do not provide satisfactory welfare.
Conventional cages have been banned across all 27 European Union (EU) member states (effective from 1 January, 2012). As a result, EU state farmers are now switching to higher welfare production systems. The US state of California has banned the use of conventional cages from 2015. In July 2011, the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers announced an unprecedented agreement to work together toward the enactment of comprehensive new federal legislation that would ban battery cages across the US.
What you can do
We urge you to do all you can to help egg-laying hens in India. Please write a polite letter to the Indian government to request:
A ban on the use of the conventional “battery” cages;
Government support for Indian egg farmers to switch to non-caged production systems;
Mandatory labelling of eggs by method of production (caged, barn, free-range and organic) to allow consumers to make informed choices and support improvements in animal welfare.
Please write to:
Smt Jayanthi Natarajan
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Ministry of Environment and Forests
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi 110003
Please also write a polite letter to the Indian Ambassador and send it to the main embassy address in your country. Embassy addresses can be found here.
Animals Asia has written to the Indian government on behalf of the Asia for Animals coalition - read our letter here.
For further information on the HSI campaign for egg-laying hens in India, click here.
For further information on hen welfare and better production systems, click here.