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Source: SAFE For Animals

SAFE has published an open letter this morning in the Dominion Post, calling on Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to announce a ban on colony cages.
Over 250 New Zealand veterinary professionals have put their name to the letter, warning the Minister that colony cages do not meet the welfare needs of hens and are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
CEO Debra Ashton said SAFE has been raising the need for a ban with the Government for many years and the time for action is long overdue.
“Public opinion, big businesses and now New Zealand’s veterinary community all object to the caging of hens,” said Ashton.
“It’s time for the Agriculture Minister to demonstrate leadership by banning colony cage systems.”
Globally there are significant moves away from colony cages. The European Commission plans to ban the caging of all animals throughout the European Union by 2027. At home, all major supermarkets in New Zealand will phase out the sale of cage-eggs from as early as 2024.
The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that animals have the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. With up to 80 hens crammed in each cage, hens cannot move freely or stretch their wings, forage for food, nest, or dust bathe.
“Right now, over 1.2 million hens are confined in colony cages which according to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 should be illegal. The Government needs to listen to the veterinary advice and align with international standards.”
“Colony cages clearly breach the Act and are incompatible with the welfare needs of hens. It’s time for them to go.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
We’re creating a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected. Our core work empowers society to make kinder choices for ourselves, animals and our planet.
 Footage of hens in colony cages (warning, this footage includes disturbing content).
– This July, SAFE launched a petition calling on the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor to ban all caged hen farming in New Zealand.
– As of December 2020, 4,149,000 hens were being farmed for their eggs in Aotearoa. Of these, 29% were in colony cages (1,203, 000 birds); 27% were in battery cages (1,148,550 birds); and 44% were in barn systems or on free-range farms (1,825,000 birds). The number of hens living in battery and colony cages totalled 2,351,550 birds.
– Colony cages are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Act states that an animal must have the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. Normal behaviour for hens includes but is not limited to nesting, dustbathing, moving around freely, basking in the sun and foraging. Hens living in highly intensive colony cage systems are not able to express these natural behaviours, therefore colony cages are in clear breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
– A 2020 Colmar Brunton poll found 76% of New Zealanders polled said they were opposed to the caging of hens.
– Colony cages have been banned or are being phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Walloon Region of Belgium. In the United States, nine states have already banned the sale and production of cage eggs.
– Almost all of Aotearoa’s leading egg purchasers have published cage-free egg commitments. This includes all leading supermarkets, restaurant chains, hotel companies, retail outlets, leading foodservice groups and catering companies – even Parliament’s catering provider.