No more battery caged eggs in updated poultry standards


Conventional layer hen cages will be phased out in Australia by 2036 after an independent review panel released updated poultry standards.

From this year, all new chicken cages must be installed with nest areas and layer hens must also have access to perches or platforms and a scratch area.

Victorian Farmers Federation egg group president Brian Ahmed said he was disappointed by the move.

“The phase-out of caged egg farming will have a huge impact on food security given the ubiquitous use of eggs,” he said.

“Victorian egg farmers support improved animal welfare standards, however the focus has become on particular enterprise systems, disregarding science-based assessments of welfare in favour of opinion.

“We believe that the current ‘three egg enterprise system’, which includes caged, barn and free-range, needs to be maintained.”

If a cage system was installed before the end of 2011, it must meet the new requirements by July 1, 2032, and cages installed after 2014 need to be updated by 2036.

The Independent Poultry Welfare Panel commissioned by Commonwealth, state and territory agriculture ministers in 2019 has also recommended updating poultry welfare standards for meat chickens.

Farmers would be required to provide environmental enrichment for meat chickens and there would be minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation, and temperature parameters for all species.

Each state and territory has the remainder of this year to consider implementation options, with further discussions to be held by agriculture ministers in early 2023.

The Independent Poultry Welfare Panel has completed its work on developing new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry.(ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer)

Calls for quicker results

Rochelle Flood from World Animal Protection said the standards were a “positive first step towards phasing out a cruel and barbaric practice”.

“A 2036 phase-out of battery cages is simply not good enough for the millions of hens in Australia, who will continue to suffer in cruel battery cages,” she said.

“Already, during the seven years of the review, 35 million hens were made to suffer in conventional battery cages. Up to 55 million more hens could be forced to live in cages, until 2036.

Egg laying chickens in cages
Layer chickens now need access to nest areas, perches or platforms and a scratch area.(Supplied: Animal Liberation)

“The European Union, New Zealand and some American states banished battery cages in 2012, yet Australia continues to lag behind on hen welfare.”

“These social animals suffer both physically and mentally, and we urge the state governments to do the right thing, and ensure industry phase out this practice as soon as possible, ahead of this 2036 deadline.”

The Egg Farmers of Australia and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation have been contacted for comment.

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