Country Smallholding

Caged hens ex­posé

An an­i­mal wel­fare char­ity has hit out at ‘en­riched cages’ for chick­ens as ‘win­dow dress­ing’, and de­scribes the suf­fer­ing of hun­dreds of mil­lions of chick­ens in Europe

- Wildlife · Animals · European Union · France · Italy · Czech Republic · Cyprus · United Kingdom · British Hen Welfare Trust

Hun­dreds of mil­lions of chick­ens across Europe con­tinue to suf­fer – de­spite the in­tro­duc­tion of so-called ‘en­riched cages’, says an­i­mal wel­fare char­ity Com­pas­sion in World Farming (CIWF).

Bar­ren bat­tery cages be­came il­le­gal across the EU in 2012, in a move seen as a vic­tory for wel­fare cam­paign­ers.

But this sum­mer, CIWF in­ves­ti­gated four Euro­pean coun­tries – France, Italy, the Czech Repub­lic and Cyprus – and it said the probe re­vealed what the ban really means for lay­ing hens – hid­den fac­tory farms where pro­duc­tiv­ity is the ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive.

It said: “A stag­ger­ing 300 mil­lion hens in the EU still spend their lives in cages. Whilst an im­prove­ment, ‘en­riched’ cages pre­vent hens from car­ry­ing out their nat­u­ral be­hav­iours – they can barely even stretch their wings.

“Farms of all types: small and large, mod­ern and ram­shackle, clean and dirty; re­gard­less of the op­er­a­tion, the hens were closely con­fined, spent their en­tire lives stand­ing on wire mesh floors or slip­pery perches, and never saw sun­light. The ‘en­rich­ment’ in th­ese cages is lit­tle more than win­dow dress­ing.”


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Founder of the Bri­tish Hen Wel­fare Trust, Jane Howorth, said: “It is ap­par­ent that in many coun­tries out­side the UK good hus­bandry is not in place, and it is down to the EU to en­sure mem­ber states ad­here to wel­fare reg­u­la­tions. We whole­heart­edly en­cour­age con­sumers to sup­port Bri­tish farm­ers who, for the most part, em­ploy good hus­bandry and ad­here to reg­u­la­tions.”

“The en­riched cage sys­tem can of­fer birds some im­prove­ment over the old-style bar­ren bat­tery cage pro­vided the reg­u­la­tions are ad­hered to, and that hus­bandry is high qual­ity, how­ever keep­ing hens in cages does not al­low them to enjoy all the nat­u­ral be­hav­iours they would have if given ac­cess out­doors.”

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