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Washington State Votes to Outlaw Battery Cages

by 5m Editor
13 April 2011, at 9:10am

WASHINGTON STATE, US - American Humane Association has welcomed the 'Yes' vote on improved layer welfare standards in Washington.

American Humane Association officials are hailing Monday's ground-breaking vote in the Washington state House of Representatives approving Senate Bill 5487 – a historic piece of legislation that will significantly improve animal welfare in commercial egg-laying chicken operations.

Passage of this significant legislation will create the nation's most rigorous programme, based on guidelines developed by the scientific panel at American Humane Association, creator of the oldest and largest farm animal welfare certification programme – American Humane Certified.

The legislation will phase out the use of 'battery cage' housing for egg-laying hens and instead mandate use of an approved American Humane Association housing system, requiring more space and the use of what is known as the enriched colony model. Enriched colony housing allows hens to exhibit natural behaviors such as spreading their wings and turning around, as well as offering elements such as nests, perches and scratching areas, which are necessary to ensuring a humane environment.

"We salute the legislators in Washington state for their proactive work," said Tim Amlaw, vice president of American Humane Certified animal welfare programme. "Extensive research shows that the welfare program they have approved for commercial egg-laying chicken operations will most certainly significantly improve animal welfare."

Monday's vote in the House follows previous approval in the State Senate, where the legislation will now return for concurrence, before moving to the desk of Governor Chris Gregoire for final approval.

The American Humane Certified programme is supported by the most comprehensive science-based standards and third-party audits ever created, according to the American Humane Association. Certified producers must meet the standards created by animal scientists and veterinarians and reviewed frequently by a scientific advisory panel that includes world-renowned expert, Dr Temple Grandin. They also must continue to comply in annual reviews.

North America's first and largest farm animal welfare programme began a decade ago and currently certifies food producers representing over 60 million farm animals and more than 90 per cent of North American 'cage-free' egg production.