The Facts - Battery Hens
Picture Courtesy of Animals Australia
Over 90% of the 800 students surveyed said that want to see a cage free campus! (see our survey page for more information!)
The Cruelty of Cage Eggs
- 11 million hens live in battery cages.1
- Current Australian standards allow these battery hens allow hens to be permanently confined for their entire lives in a cage with approximately an A4 size space to move around in.2
- Such living conditions deny battery hens the ability to express many natural behaviours such as stretching their wings, dust bathing, perching, foraging for food and preening.3 These hens do not see daylight until they are led to the slaughter house. As a result of this frustration of natural behaviour, these sentient creatures experience psychological suffering.4
- This permanent confinement also leads to physical deformities such as chronic foot pain, lesions and other problems.5 Hens in battery cages may also suffer from significant skeletal disorders and osteoporosis due to selective breeding which aims to increase the productivity of today’s laying hen.6 As a result, calcium stores are drawn away from the hens own skeletal system, and are used by the body to produce egg shells. As a result 1 in 6 hens in battery cages suffer from broken bones.7
- Cruel husbandry techniques are also legally sanctioned for battery hens such as beak trimming on anaesthetized birds to prevent outbreaks of cannibalism and thus injury.8 Forced moulting is also regularly employed, which allows food and water to be withdrawn from hens for a period of 24 hours.9
- When the hens production rate declines they are killed at 18 months of age despite a natural life expectancy of up to 12 years.10
- UMAPS is asking that the University of Melbourne commit to a Cage Free Campus Policy. This policy would see all eateries on campus, as well as all catering provided by the University of Melbourne use free range eggs from an accredited free range egg supplier.
- A Cage Free Campus policy has been adopted in more than 350 campuses in the US and Canada.11 This includes prestigious universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Berkley and UCLA.12
- At present, no university in Australia currently has in place a Cage Free Campus policy, although the University of Newcastle was for a period in 2008 / 2009 adopted a trial cage free campus policy which has now lapsed.13
- A Cage Free policy has been adopted by many large companies in the US including Google, America Online (AOL), Adidas and Yahoo.14
- A number of UK supermarkets have also phased out cage eggs from their shelves including Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys.15
- Here in Australia, Woolworths phased out cage eggs from its Select range at the end of 2009.16McDonalds in Australia has announced its intention to phase out cage eggs at some future date, although they do not envisage this as an immediate priority.17
- A growing number of councils in Australia have adopted Cage Free catering policies including Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston, Marrickville and the ACT Government agencies.18
- While Cage Free does not mean cruelty free, it is a move towards abolishing some of the cruelest practices inflicted upon animals.
- Each year, 12 million male chicks are gassed or ground up alive as an unwanted by-product of the egg production industry.19
- The cruel husbandry practices mentioned above such as beak trimming and forced moulting are also sanctioned by certain free range industries,20 and organic industries.21
- Eggs accredited by the Free Range Farmers Association (FRFA), and Humane Choice Label do not permit these cruel husbandry practices.22
- A cruelty free choice involves an egg free diet.
1 Animals Australia, 'The Real Cost of Caged Eggs' at <http://www.freebetty.com/cage_eggs.php> accessed at 10 August 2010; Humane Society of the United States, An HSUS Report: A Comparison of the Welfare of Hens in Battery Cages and Alternative Systems (2009) at <http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/hsus-a-comparison-of-the-welfare-of-hens-in-battery-cages-and-alternative-systems.pdf> accessed at 10 August 2010, 2-3.
2Primary Industries Standing Committee, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry 4th Edition (2002) Appendix 1, 25.
3Animals Australia, 'The Real Cost of Caged Eggs', above n 1; Humane Society of the United States, above n 1, 2-3.
4 RSPCA Victoria, 'Accredited RSPCA Products' at <http://www.rspcavic.org/help_rspca/accredited_products.htm> accessed at 10 August 2010.
5Humane Society of the United States, above n 1, 8.
6Humane Society of the United States, above n 1, 9-10.
7Animals Australia, above n 1.
8Model Code – Domestic Poultry, above n 2, A3.3.1, 31.
10Animals Australia, above n 1.
11Humane Society of the United States, Cage Free Campus at <http://www.hsus.org/farm/camp/nbe/cagefreecampus/> accessed at 10 August 2010.
13 Confirmed via emails with Newcastle University. Please see for background, Voiceless, 'University of Newcastle Goes Cage Free' (1 November 2007) at <http://www.voiceless.org.au/About_Us/Media_Releases/University_of_Newcastle_goes_cage-free_.html> at 16 August 2010.
15Voiceless, 'Woolworths Egged on by Consumer Concerns about Battery Hen Suffering' (14 August 2009) at <http://www.voiceless.org.au/About_Us/Media_Releases/Woolworths_egged_on_by_consumer_concerns_about_battery_hen_suffering.html> accessed at 10 August 2010.
16Woolworths Limited, Corporate Responsibility Report (2009) at <http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/14/144044/WOL202_CR09_LR_FA.pdf> accessed at 10 August 2010, 3.
17Animals Australia, 'McDonald's Free-Range Snub' (23 April 2010) at <http://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/in_the_news.php?article=1062> accessed at 10 August 2010.
18Animals Australia, Could Your Council Go Cage-Free? At <http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/14/144044/WOL202_CR09_LR_FA.pdf> accessed at 10 August 2010.
19Animals Australia, above n 1.
20The Australian Egg Corporation Limited which has developed the Egg Corp Assured (ECA) quality assurance program requires its free range producers to comply with the Model Code – Poultry which permits beak trimming.
21While the Australian Organic Standards do not allow systematic debeaking, they do allow individual debeaking when it is ''in the interests of animal welfare'', see: Biological Farmers of Australia, Australian Organic Standard (2006) at <http://www.bfa.com.au/_files/AOS%202006%2001.03.06%20FINAL_low%20res%20no%20graphics.pdf> accessed at 10 August 2010, 5.2.3.
22 Free Range Farmers Association at <http://www.freerangefarmers.com.au/> accessed at 10 August 2010.