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An end to caged chickens?

According to the Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand, the majority of hens in New Zealand are still housed in battery cages. This is a great shame, as these caged birds are unable to express many of their normal behaviours and are kept in semi-darkness for their entire lives, in order to stop them from pecking each other.

Although the battery cage ban comes into place by the end of 2021, the most attractive alternative for egg producers, the colony cage, is not much better. While providing a little more space, a low perch, a rudimentary nesting area and a plastic scratching mat does allow hens to express more behaviours, they are still heavily confined and farmed in sheds with cages sometimes stacked as many as eight high.

SPCA Certified only approves barn and free-range egg farms. Hens in these systems are free to move around and interact with each other. They are also kept on litter, such as wood shavings, which allows them to scratch and dustbathe. Environmental enrichment and perches must be provided and in the case of free-range, the hens have access to an outdoor area, with shade and shelter, to allow them to roam and fully explore their surroundings.

While all major supermarkets in New Zealand have pledged to stop selling eggs from any cage system (including colony cages) by the end of 2027, it is important that consumers hold them to this, so that New Zealand’s longest running battery (and its colony cage successor) finally runs out when it should.