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Hens

“Any housing condition that confines an animal to the indoors, away from the sun and the grass and the opportunity to forage and live as nature intended, is inadequate for fulfilling a hen’s natural behaviours.”

Dr Jonathan Balcombe, Animal Behaviourist

Close to three million ‘layer’ hens live short and cruel lives crammed inside wire cages to produce eggs. Eighty-two per cent of the one billion eggs consumed in New Zealand are produced by caged hens that spend their entire lives mistreated and abused.

Although battery cages are now being phased out, it does not become law until 2022. SAFE is concerned at continued hen suffering, both until this date, and in the new colony battery cages that the Government has decided to allow as the replacement.

Uncover the Facts

Standard Battery Cages

A battery hen spends her entire life in a small cage with five to eight others, in a large, window-less, environmentally controlled shed.

Caged for life

In December 2012 the government released a new welfare code for ‘layer’ hens that bans the standard battery cage (from 2022) yet allows a new kind of cage, the colony battery cage – a cage system that a number of other countries are already moving away from.

Colony Battery Cage Cruelty

Evidence shows that colony battery cages fail to meet the welfare needs of hens, and the European Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare has identified the most serious threats to cage birds.

Colony Cage Cons

Typically, colony battery cages only contain one ‘nest box' of minimalist design (plastic flaps) for about 60 birds. Competition for the nest box increases aggression levels and hens are unable to spend as much time in the nest as they would like.

Cage-Free Egg Directory

A cage-free commitment is a company’s way of letting people know that it does not support the cruel caging of hens. Check out SAFE’s regularly updated Cage-free Directory to find out which businesses in New Zealand are cage-free and which aren’t.

What's Happening Overseas?

In the European Union, standard battery cages (which provide only 450 square centimeters of cage space per hen) were finally phased out from January 2012. Colony battery cages (which must provide 600 square centimeters of usable space per hen) are still allowed. In addition, eggs from caged birds must legally be labeled as such throughout the European Union.

Layer Hen Facts

Of the 3.2 million egg-laying chickens in New Zealand, eighty-two per cent are caged.
Most caged hens are beak-trimmed; those that are not are kept under very low light levels to reduce feather pecking and cannibalism.

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