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What is the RSPCA's position on battery cages for layer hens?
The RSPCA aims to make people aware that all animals used by humans must be treated humanely and compassionately. For many years, the RSPCA has been actively campaigning against battery cages in egg production.
The RSPCA established an Approved Farming Scheme for layer hens where producers can use the RSPCA logo on egg cartons only if they meet very high welfare standards — this means eggs from hens housed in battery cages are excluded. The Approved Farming Scheme for layer hens is a win–win situation: the public can buy welfare-friendly eggs and producers can see it makes economic sense to improve the welfare of their hens.
Following are just some of the reasons why the RSPCA will continue to lobby governments to ban the use of battery cages:
The egg industry argues that the high laying rates in battery cages indicate healthy, productive hens. However, the overwhelming consensus among animal welfare experts is that the welfare of hens is severely compromised. A detailed European report makes a clear case against battery cages: http://www.laywel.eu/.
Conventional cages do not allow hens to fulfil behaviour priorities, preferences and needs for nesting, perching, foraging and dust bathing in particular. We believe these disadvantages outweigh the advantages of reduced parasitism, good hygiene and simpler management. The advantages can be matched by other systems that also enable a much fuller expression of normal behaviour.
Eggs labelled with the RSPCA logo are produced according to strict standards — much stricter than required by law. They state hens must be housed so they have access to a nest to lay their eggs in, litter to dust bathe in, sufficient space to move around freely, flap their wings, stretch, socialise and escape aggression. Hens must have constant access to good food and water and must be protected from predators and the elements.
To make sure these high welfare standards are being met, RSPCA Approved farms are inspected every 6 months by an experienced RSPCA assessor. View our layer hen standards here.
The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry (http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/download.cfm?ID=3451) sets minimum welfare guidelines for people involved in the care and management of domestic poultry.
To learn more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme visit our website.
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