Call to phase out battery cages for hens as consumers urged to choose free range

World Animal Protection recently held a protest at NSW Parliament House calling on Adam Marshall, the NSW Agriculture Minister, to support a proposed phase out of battery cages for hens.

Supporters gathered at the front of NSW Parliament House in the early afternoon to hear from speakers including Animal Justice Party MLC, Emma Hurst and Greens MLC Abigail Boyd, about the problem with battery cages in Australia.

As part of the day, demonstrators dressed as chickens, were confined to a cage outside Parliament to signify the cruel conditions faced by millions of hens in battery cages across Australia. The “chickens” were also roaming around Macquarie Street and Martin Place during the day to raise awareness of the issue among the public.

To coincide with the protest, World Animal Protection unveiled new research revealing the need for greater awareness of the issue amongst politicians and the wider public.

The findings reveal an alarming lack of awareness among NSW consumers about the conditions of the hens laying our eggs, with more than 80 per cent unaware that battery cages still exist in Australia, with no plans to phase them out. Respondents from NSW also have a below average knowledge on the definition of “caged,” with 33 per cent saying they don’t know or are unsure what caged eggs are.

Protesters outside NSW Parliament House. Image supplied.

Rochelle Flood from World Animal Protection Australia said:
“In Australia, there are 11 million hens kept in battery cages each year – a statistic that most of the public are unaware of. This new research highlights the need to raise further awareness among Australians, so we can send a clear message to politicians that the time has come to end the use of cruel battery cages.

“The Australian government needs to take action to phase out battery cages, to avoid falling further behind nations who have already introduced regulations banning the practice. The European Union, New Zealand and some American states introduced battery cage phase outs in 2012, so Australia is lagging behind.

“It’s important our politicians realise that the public don’t want to see layer hens in cages. A better way is possible.”

Battery hens inside a farm. Image supplied.

Australia’s state and federal agriculture ministers will be meeting early next year to consider an update to the standards and guidelines for poultry which have not been updated since the early 2000s. The current draft includes a phase-out of battery cages and NSW, as the major egg-producing state, is crucial to ensuring it is adopted.

Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW spokesperson for Animal Welfare said:
“NSW has more layer hens than any other state, producing over a third of Australia’s eggs. We have a responsibility to lead the country in banning these cruel battery cages – every hen should be able to live a life worth living.”

Despite the research showing a significant gap in knowledge among the public, there were some promising results. Most NSW consumers (62 per cent) said they always or almost always buy free range eggs. Along with this, almost half (48 per cent) said they never or hardly ever buy caged eggs.

Hon. Emma Hurst MLC, Animal Justice Party said:
“Australians are demanding transparency, and hens in the egg industry are a leading issue. We received 12,000 submissions to my inquiry demanding this animal cruelty will not be tolerated here in NSW or anywhere else in Australia.”

For more information on World Animal Protection Australia and their campaigns, go to www.worldanimalprotection.org.au 

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