The animal welfare group SAFE says battery hens are suffering once again by officials looking for business and profit ahead of animal welfare.
Hans Kriek, the director of SAFE, says the egg industries have successfully lobbied the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to delay the transition leading to a ban on conventional battery hen cages.
And he says the Committee’s claim to be committed to getting layer hens out of battery cages is a lie.
NAWAC is proposing to delay each of the transition steps by two years, while still retaining the final date when conventional cages will be phased out.
Mr Kriek, formerly head of Kapiti’s SPCA, says: “Battery cages do not allow hens to express their normal behaviours and have therefore been in breach of the Animal Welfare Act since its introduction in 2000.
“Instead of enforcing the law and banning these cages immediately the Commikttee colluded with farmers to allow the ongoing use of battery cages for up to a shocking 22 years.”
In 2012, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committe decided on three transition dates to phase out battery cages — 2016, 2018 and finally 2022. This decision was announced in the Code of Welfare for Layer Hens, a code that took three years to write.
“By delaying the transition the Committee again shows how easily it crumbles under industry pressure.
‘This incompetent committee’
“This incompetent committee already failed the hens by allowing colony battery hen cages to replace conventional cages despite the fact that colony cages still do not allow the hens to express their normal behaviour. NAWAC is now set to extend the suffering of battery hens even further,” says Mr Kriek.
“What is most outrageous is NAWAC’s claim to be committed to getting layer hens out of battery cages, when in reality they are sentencing hens to modified cage systems for decades to come,” says Mr Kriek. “This is simply a lie to the public, and SAFE continues the fight against the introduction of these new cage systems.”
SAFE will make a submission to prevent the phase-out dates being pushed back and is urging the public to do the same.