RSPCA Celebrates Non-cage Eggs for First Time

UK - The RSPCA is celebrating news that more than half the eggs produced in the UK are from non-caged hens for the first time.
calendar icon 3 February 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

The latest figures released by Defra show that in 2011 51 per cent of Class A eggs were laid by hens which were not cooped-up in battery cages - compared to just 14 per cent in 1995.

Alice Clark a senior scientist from the RSPCA's farm animals team said: "It is really great news that for the first time more than half the eggs produced in the UK were laid by hens kept in barn, free-range or organic systems.

"Every time a shopper buys a box of Freedom Food, barn, free-range or organic eggs, they are sending a strong message that they care about animal welfare and don't want hens kept in cages."

In 1995 about 86 per cent of eggs were laid by caged hens and only about 14 per cent were from barn, free-range and organic systems. In contrast in 2011 49 per cent of eggs were laid by hens kept in cages and 51 per cent were produced in cage-free systems.

The RSPCA does not believe hens should be kept in cages - even newer style so-called 'enriched' battery cages which are replacing the conventional barren battery cages.

Recent research commissioned by the RSPCA revealed 61 per cent of people in England and Wales agreed that cages should be banned.

The RSPCA believes that the growth in non-cage production is due to:

  • Compulsory egg labelling introduced in 2004 so boxes of whole eggs have to be labelled with the method of production such as 'eggs from caged hens' or 'free-range'.
  • Increased public awareness and concern about the suffering of hens kept in cages.
  • Some major supermarkets no longer stocking cage eggs and using cage-free eggs as ingredients in their own-brand products.
  • Some major food manufacturers and restaurant chains switching to cage-free eggs in their products.

Alice Clark added: "Things are certainly getting better and hopefully one day cages will be a thing of the past altogether.

"Shoppers who buy cage-free eggs deserve a heartfelt thank you. And if they want to do more they can make sure food they buy such as ready-meals, cakes and ice-cream also contains cage-free eggs."

For a free guide to buying cage-free eggs and products that contain eggs, please click here.

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