Victory for Hens: Conventional Battery Cages to Be Banned by 2012
The European Commission has published a new report confirming the banning of conventional battery cages in 2012, despite farmers’ calls for postponement. This follows hot on the heels of increased public and media pressure after television coverage of the conditions egg laying hens are forced to endure. The European Commission have declared there will be no postponement and the 2012 ban is here to stay. The question now is whether other key EU member countries ignore this report, try to overturn it or even call to have it scrapped.
In 1999, the European Union judged that conventional battery cages are so cruel they should be banned across the EU and passed legislation, known as the Laying Hens Directive, requiring the egg industry to stop confining hens in conventional battery cages by 2012. There was no need to push for more time as 12 years is more than enough to act upon the directive, with eleven of those years already gone.
Currently, each year in the EU around 300 million hens are crammed into filthy wire-mesh battery cages stacked tier upon tier in huge warehouses. Several birds are crowded into each cage, packed so tightly together that they are unable to spread even one wing. The birds suffer crippling leg injuries from standing on wire cage floors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until they are killed. Their bones are brittle both from forced inactivity and because calcium is leached from their bodies to produce eggs. Many more hens suffer from painful injuries when they're ripped from their cages, thrown into transport crates, and shipped to slaughter. Without even a shred of straw for comfort, all of the hen’s natural instincts – including nesting, perching, scratching and pecking – are denied. These birds never get the chance to breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, build nests, raise their young, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. Although this ban is a step in the right direction that ‘enriched cages’ - which are only a marginal improvement on battery cages - will still be legal and hens will continue to suffer needlessly.
What You Can Do:
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