6 December, 2012
New welfare code to phase out battery cages
Battery cages for layer hens are to be phased out under a new Code of Welfare released today by Primary Industries Minister David Carter.
From tomorrow (7 December), no new battery cages can be installed by egg producers and a staged phase-out of existing cages will begin. By 2022, all battery cages will be prohibited.
“Scientific evidence and strong public opinion have made it clear that change is necessary. We need alternatives to battery cages,” says Mr Carter.
The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012 will allow layer hens to be kept in colony cages, a larger cage system that meets the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, or in barn or free range systems.
“An immediate prohibition of battery cages would have an unacceptable impact on egg prices, industry structure and the stability of egg supply. The phased approach balances the welfare of layer hens with the time needed for producers to transition to other systems,” Mr Carter says.
“Over 80 percent of New Zealand eggs are currently laid in battery cages so this is a major shift for the egg industry and it needs to be handled appropriately.
“Under the new Code, about 45 percent of battery cages will be gone by 2018,” Mr Carter says.
The Code was developed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), an independent committee set up to provide expert animal welfare advice to the Minister.
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