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
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.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Contact your Euro MP or find out more at www.ciwf.org.uk
WHAT EX-BATS CHARITY SAYS
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.”