“A cage, is a cage, is a cage.”
Today the Minister of Primary Industries, David Carter, released the 2012 Layer Hen Code. Current cages, known as Battery, must be phased out by 2022 only to be replaced by Colony Cages.
Battery cages give a layer hen approximately the same space as an A4 piece of paper to live on their entire life and the Colony cages allow an additional 200cm² per hen. The SPCA does not believe this is an improvement at all.
"A cage, is a cage, is a cage." says SPCA National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.
"These layer hens still cannot express their natural behaviour. Hens have to vie for restricted space in inadequate nest boxes and the scratch pad for 60 birds is so small it is just pathetic. The perches are just centimetres off the cage floor and the birds cannot dust bathe for the entirety of their lives."
The SPCA believes New Zealanders will not be happy with this decision.
"We pride ourselves on being a humane farming nation and the New Zealand free-range egg industry is steadily growing by 1% each year proving that consumers will pay more to free birds living in cages." says Ms Kippenberger.
The decision to phase out Battery cages over the next 10 years and demanding new cages while farmers are still paying off existing mortgages means we will see caged hens in this industry for many decades to come".
"We invite farmers to get rid of their cages and convert to a barn style of farming which is a high welfare environment where the hens can exhibit their natural behaviour." says Juliette Banks, SPCA National Blue Tick Manager.
"New Zealand consumers will vote with their wallets as we have seen in Europe and there will be a diminishing market for caged bird eggs. Farmers who have invested in expensive colony cages will be left selling an inferior product in a market demanding better and better welfare."
The SPCA Blue Tick is an independent accreditation scheme run by the SPCA which is actively getting animals out of cages.
The SPCA Blue Tick is the Royal New Zealand SPCA's humane farming accreditation scheme. The SPCA Blue Tick is displayed prominently on products sourced from farms which have met the SPCA's high welfare standards, which are stricter than those dictated by the industry. Farms can be audited by the SPCA at any time, and must continue to adhere to the SPCA's standards or risk losing their accreditation.
Current products accredited under the scheme include free range and free farmed pork, free range eggs and barn eggs, free range meat poultry chicken and free range turkey.
For more information on the SPCA Blue Tick, please visit www.rnzspca.org.nz/bluetick.
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