What's New ? - 2021

What's New ? - 2021

Australia: National plan to allow battery cages until 2036

Source: Business News Australia 9 July, 2021

Eggs laid by battery hens would be phased out within 15 years under a plan to improve poultry welfare in Australia. 
Among the recommendations of an independent panel were to phase out battery cages between 2032 and 2036. Egg producers will have the option of transitioning to larger furnished cages, or may decide to move straight to cage-free systems, such as barn-laid and free-range eggs.
An independent panel drafted the proposal after consulting state and territory governments, industry, animal welfare groups and the public. 
Industry figures show Australia produces around 17 million eggs each day. Of about 75% sold at supermarkets, 39% are from caged hens. Free-range (50%), barn-laid (10%) and specialty eggs (1%) make up the remainder.
Of the other 25%, much is used in processed foods and catering, where the proportion of cage eggs is thought to be higher than those sold in supermarkets.
Cage-free eggs are generally more expensive than cage eggs. Nonetheless, major supermarkets and other food companies have also vowed to phase out caged eggs, or already use cage-free eggs in their products.
A 2018 report prepared for the federal government found 95% of Australians view the welfare of farmed animals as a concern and 91% want law reform to address it.
It found Australians want regulation that prevents the suffering of farmed animals, which are increasingly seen as sentient beings with capabilities, rights and freedoms.
The proposed standards give egg producers ten to 15 years to transition away from battery cages. Animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA say this timeline is too slow and cages should be phased out sooner.
The standards will still allow the use of furnished cages: larger cages with features such as perches and scratch pads.
Furnished cages are better than battery cages. And some researchers say furnished cages, if well managed, are better than poorly run free-range and barn systems. The draft standards represent an important first step in freeing Australian hens from cages. While not perfect, they will bring Australian agriculture closer to international scientific consensus and public opinion on the issue.