Decision Makers Chicken over Egg Debate, Says Organic Body01 February 2013
NEW ZEALAND - "Revised legislation phasing out battery cages over 10 years and introducing colony cages in NZ does little to curb animal welfare issues - we are just putting more birds in bigger cages," says Debbie Swanwick, Spokeperson, Soil & Health, Organic NZ.
Colony cages house 60 chickens in a 3 metre cage1 versus battery cages where 3 or 4 chickens live together. Both options give each hen a space to live in smaller than an A4 piece of paper and both options prevent them from expressing their normal behavior6.
SAFEs' executive director Hans Kriek's says 80 per cent of New Zealanders want battery cages banned4. "That is not surprising, New Zealanders care about how their food is grown," says Ms Swanwick.
"The continuation of cages is shortsighted as New Zealand consumers and animal advocates will simply not accept colony battery cages. The fight against this cruelty will only stop when all cages are gone," says Mr Kriek.
"In the absence of decision makers refusing to support consumers concerned about animal welfare and deliver the best product available to them, the only option is for consumers to vote with their wallets," says Ms Swanwick.
Although a better option than battery, colony or barn laid eggs, unfortunately there is no industry certification for 'free range'. The only guarantee therefore that a hen is not confined in a cage, able to display normal behavior, able to adequately exercise and can roam outdoors is to buy organic3.
"People can also choose to buy direct from the farmer which oftentimes is cheaper than store bought," says Ms Swanwick.
Under the new Code of Welfare for Layer Hens (released December 2012) standard barren battery cages will not be banned until 2023 and will then be replaced with colony cages2.
"This attempt to improve the lives of these hapless caged layers fails miserably and still contravenes the Principles of the Animal Welfare Act. For a Government that professes that ‘Animal Welfare Matters’, I can see no proof of that in this meagre attempt to walk the talk," says Bob Kerridge, President, Royal New Zealand SPCA.
Ms Swanwick cites recent legislative changes to be prejudicial. "Sow crates in NZ will be banned by 2015 (although farrow crates will remain) for contravening animal welfare codes but the same rights have not been afforded our feathered friends," says Ms Swanwick5.
"Our politicians seem to be chicken over chickens. You can count on the fact that pork will taste better in future but it still must leave a bad taste in the mouths of politicians who sold out on chickens whilst protecting the welfare of pigs," says Ms Swanwick.
Soil & Health is one of the oldest organic organisations in the world and advocate for the consumers right to have fresh, healthy, organic food - GE, pesticide and additive free and their right to know what is in their food.