On 6 June, the Animal Justice Party NSW passed a motion to establish a select committee to inquire into the use of battery cages.
Due to deliver their report by 31 October 2019, the select committee will examine the link between battery cages and poor animal welfare, explore community standards, and assess levels of public support and opposition.
Hens are beautiful creatures with the ability to communicate, show empathy, exert self-control, and navigate using the sun. A mother hen begins to teach different “calls” to her chicks before they even hatch.
Each year in Australia, more than nine million hens suffer inside battery cages no larger than an A4 piece of paper. Constantly frustrated and unable to express their natural behaviours, they struggle to spread their wings, walk, dust bathe, and forage. Their environment is artificially lit to maximise their egg production and they are routinely “de-beaked” without any pain relief. They suffer brittle and broken bones, as well as feather loss.
The Australian Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, prepared by state and federal government representatives, the CSIRO, and committees within the Primary Industry Ministerial Council system, recommends a stocking density for free range layer hens of 1500 birds per hectare.
Despite this, the Australian Consumer Law (Free Range Egg Labelling) Information Standard 2017, which came into effect on 26 April 2018, states that egg producers can label their products as ‘free range’ if they maintain a stocking density of 10 000 hens or less per hectare.
This is more than six times the stocking density recommended by the CSIRO and exceptionally misleading for consumers who generally associate free range with space to roam.
At least one Australia territory, the ACT, has followed the lead of the EU, New Zealand, Canada, and several U.S. states by taking action against battery cages. Yet, there is nothing to stop eggs produced in NSW migrating across the border to be sold in ACT stores.
So what can you do?
According to Michael C. Appleby OBE, a British ethologist and animal welfare scientist, public opinion is an important agent for change. He notes that European politicians have said they receive more letters on animal welfare than any other subject and this helps them counter the industry. American politicians have made similar comments.
So make a submission to the select committee and tell the NSW Government that battery cages are a cruel and unacceptable practice.
If you want to find the regions with farmers surrendering hens to ‘Til The Cows Come Home for adoption, click here: https://www.facebook.com/tilthecowscomehomeau/photos/a.342543169601685/668353813687284/?type=3&theater and if there are hens in your region that you would like to adopt click here: https://tilthecowscomehome.org/adopt-an-animal/
By Genevieve Mater