18 Oct 2021

SAFE calls on government to ban colony farming

5:52 pm on 18 October 2021

SAFE has written an open letter calling on the Agriculture Minister to ban colony cages, which it says has the backing of hundreds of New Zealand veterinary professionals.

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Photo: 123RF

Battery cages, which can house between four and 10 egg-laying hens, will be phased out by the end of next year but the larger colony cages are still legal.

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton said the animal welfare group's letter had the support of more than 250 veterinary professionals.

Ashton said it had been raising the need for a ban with the government for many years and the time for action was long overdue.

The cages breached the Animal Welfare Act as they did not allow hens to display normal behavior, Ashton said.

"The government needs to listen to the veterinary advice and align with international standards.

"Colony cages clearly breach the act and are incompatible with the welfare needs of hens. It's time for them to go."

Ashton said colony cages have been banned or are being phased out in parts of Europe and some states in the US.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the government was making progress on improving the welfare of commercial layer hens, but had to balance that with keeping the cost of eggs affordable.

"We are making progress on better animal welfare for chooks and hens, we have to be mindful ... eggs are a very important part of the protein component of New Zealanders diets," he said.

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