Take action Free hens from cages

It’s time to empty the cages

All animals deserve a life worth living, and hens are no exception. Confining hens in colony cages is not only cruel but is also completely unnecessary.

Hens are intelligent, curious and socially complex birds, and like all animals, they have natural behavioural needs. In an outdoor environment, a hen will spend her days scratching at the earth, searching for food, dust bathing, stretching her wings and basking in the sun. Over 1.2 million hens are confined in colony cages in Aotearoa. These cages directly breach the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which requires that the physical, health and behavioural needs of animals be met. The overcrowded conditions of colony cages prevent hens from displaying normal patterns of behaviour and living a life free of unnecessary pain.

Take action for hens

Sign our petition calling for a ban on cages in New Zealand

Your actions can make a huge difference for the millions of hens living in cramped, unnatural conditions on intensive farms. Take action now to free hens from cages in New Zealand.

Time for change

We are seeing incredible change for hens across New Zealand. Three quarters (76%) of Kiwis polled want to see hens freed from cages. Supermarkets, foodservice groups, café outlets and restaurant chains across the country are committed to phasing out the use of cage eggs.

Around the world, hens are being spared from a lifetime in cages by progressive politicians. Cages are banned or being phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Walloon Region of Belgium. In the USA, nine states have already banned the sale and production of cage eggs.

New Zealand’s leaders know Kiwis care about hens. In 2014 and 2017, the Labour Party promised to ban colony cages. The Green Party of Aotearoa has also committed to free hens from cages.

New Zealand voters have elected the Labour Party to lead our country for another three years. Now is the time to stand together and demand positive change for hens from our politicians.

Action 2: 

Write to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Hon Damien O’Connor and Hon  Meka Whaitiri and demand a ban on colony cages  

History in the making

On the 30th of June 2021, the EU Commission announced its commitment to banning the caging of farmed animals throughout the EU by 2027. This decision will free over 300 million animals from cages.  

If the European Union can free 300 million animals in seven years, our leaders can free the 1.2 million hens imprisoned in colony cages in New Zealand.   

In 2014 and 2017, the Labour Party said they would finally free hens from cages. Yet today, no action has been taken.  

We need to use our voices to hold our leaders to accountHens are counting on you to free them from cages in Aotearoa for good.  

We have prepared a message that you can send to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Hon Damien O’Connor and Hon Meka Whaitiri. If you have time, please write your own personal message or edit the message below. A personal email from you will always have more impact! 

This email will be sent directly to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Hon Damien O’Connor and Hon Meka Whaitiri. You will also receive a copy for your record. Emails are public information, if you would like any of your information withheld please write so in your email. 

Action 3:

Email the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC)

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is responsible for providing advice to the Government on matters relating to animal welfare. They make recommendations to the codes of welfare, animal welfare research needs and legislative proposals. The Code of Welfare for Hens is due for review this year, so please send a polite email to NAWAC to ask that they recommend a ban on colony cages in 2022. 

Some key points to include are:  

  • The code of welfare for hens is due for a review this year, it is extremely important that this review results in NAWAC recommending a ban on colony cages. 
  • Colony cages breach the Animal Welfare Act 1999 as they do not allow hens to display normal patterns of behaviour.   
  • Governments around the world are banning colony cages and New Zealand is falling behind international industry standards. The continued caging of hens not only impacts the lives of millions of hens – it is putting New Zealand’s reputation at risk. 
  • Over 250 New Zealand veterinary professionals signed SAFE’s open letter calling on the Minister of Agriculture to ban colony cages. 
  • Hens in colony cages only have space the size of an A4 piece of paper in which to live out their lives. They cannot carry out basic behaviours that are essential to their welfare such as walking freely, stretching their wings, and nesting.  


A cage is a cage

Colony cages have been approved as the new caged system to replace soon-to-be illegal battery cages. In essence, colony cages are just larger versions of battery cages that are capable of housing many more hens. Colony cages still breach New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999 as they do not allow hens to express their natural behaviour.

Hen cruelty exposed. Again.   

In May 2021, a whistleblower who wishes to remain anonymous, has revealed to SAFE the horrific conditions that hens are living in at the colony cage farm ‘Northern Eggs’ in Whangarei.  

The informant claimed that farm managers ignored multiple reports of animal suffering. SAFE alerted the Ministry for Primary Industries to investigate immediately. This is the second time Northern Eggs has been scrutinised for animal cruelty. In December 2019, Newshub revealed footage showing dead hens in various stages of decomposition, as well as countless hens who were severely de-feathered and living among their dead cage mates. On both occasions, MPI has found ‘no evidence of animal cruelty’.  

Time and time again, we are seeing hen cruelty on colony cage farms. The only way to ensure hens are no longer subjected to these unacceptable and deplorable conditions is to ban colony cage farming in New Zealand for good. 

Over 250 New Zealand Veterinary Professionals call for a ban on caging hens

On October 18 2021, SAFE published an open letter in the Dominion Post to the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O'Connor, calling for a ban on colony cages. Over 250 New Zealand Veterinary Professionals have signed the letter, confirming to the Minister that colony cages do not meet the welfare needs of hens and are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
The Act requires that animals have the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. In natural conditions, a hen will spend most of her day foraging for food, dustbathing, basking in the sun and exploring her natural environment. This is impossible for hens trapped in colony cages. Veterinary Professionals are supporting SAFE in urging the Government to uphold the Act and free hens from cages.

SAFE's open letter calling on the Minister of Agriculture to ban the caging of hens

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Your actions can make a huge difference for the millions of hens living life in cramped, unnatural conditions on intensive farms. Whether you have an evening to spare or just five minutes, sign up and speak out for hens in New Zealand.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.