Cage Ban for Canada?

CANADA - A freelance journalist writes that banning layer cages will not necessarily improve hen welfare although one farmer has stopped selling eggs from cages following pressure from the Humane Society of Canada.
calendar icon 18 December 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

For Animalnet, freelance journalist, Jim Romahn, writes:

Orillia and Pickering have bowed to pressure from the Humane Society of Canada top ban the sale of eggs from caged hens in all municipal facilities.

The Humane Society calls it a landmark decision. It follows similar bans in university cafeterias, including the University of Guelph.

The Humane Society says the councils are also encouraging residents, restaurants, caterers, retailers and wholesalers to switch to certified organic free-range eggs instead of eggs from caged hens.

Bruce Passmore, director of outreach for the Humane Society of Canada, said, "They are expressing their opposition to one of the cruelest production methods in animal agribusiness."

The society says, "Cages (are) so small that the hens can barely move. These hens are prevented from performing many of their most basic instinctive behaviours, such as walking, stretching their wings, dust-bathing and nesting.

"Countries including Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands have banned the use of barren battery cages, and the European Union's phase-out of these cages will be complete in 2012."

California voters supported a ban on egg-laying cages, veal crates and sow farrowing crates.

In British Columbia, more than a dozen cities have passed resolutions requesting the removal of eggs from caged hens from city menus, and the Union of BC Municipalities is currently considering a similar province-wide motion.

"Going cage-free is about making more humane choices," said Mr Passmore. "Dropping eggs from caged hens off the grocery shopping list is a simple and effective way to help improve life for farm animals."

At the recent Poultry Industry Conference at Kitchener, several researchers presented results of studies indicating that birds suffer less from diseases, infections parasites and cannibalism in crates than in pens with roosts.

The researchers said it is too simplistic to believe a ban on cages will, by itself, improve welfare.

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