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August 2, 2012

Bhutan Bans Extreme Confinement Cages for Egg-Laying Hens

HSI applauds historic farm animal welfare measure

Humane Society International

  • Banner used at the official event. Aarthi Gunnupuri / HSI

  • Bhutan's Minister of Agriculture and Forest, the Honorable Pema Gyamtsho, was present at the event. Aarthi Gunnupuri / HSI

  • HSI's Rahul Sehgal at spoke at the event. Aarthi Gunnupuri / HSI

  • Members of HSI's team joined representatives of Bhutan's Ministry of Agriculture and Forest for the announcement. Aarthi Gunnupuri / HSI

Timphu—Humane Society International praised the Royal Government of Bhutan for instituting major animal welfare reforms for the country’s egg industry.

The Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, declared that any female domesticated chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea fowl kept for the purpose of egg production, including pullets, shall never be continually confined in restrictive cages that prevent them from fully stretching their limbs or expressing important natural behaviors. The order also mandates that birds shall have sufficient space to be able to perch or sit quietly without repeated disturbance.

Typically, egg factory farms around the world cram billions of egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can't even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a sheet of paper on which to spend her entire life. Such extreme confinement prevents them from expressing many important natural behaviors including perching, nesting or dust bathing.

"This law represents an important advancement for farm animals worldwide," said Rahul Sehgal, director, Asia, HSI. "Bhutan’s progressive legislation sets a high standard for others to emulate. Most countries realize that we must move in the direction of improved animal welfare standards, and this legislation provides a roadmap to move us in that direction. All animals deserve humane treatment, including those raised for food."

Facts:

  • In a battery cage, a hen will live out her entire adult life on less space than an average sheet of writing paper; she cannot spread her wings and will never have the chance to perch, dust bathe, or forage for food—all essential natural behaviors.
  • Battery cage restrictive housing results in both physical and psychological problems; scientific studies have consistently shown that laying hens suffer in battery cages.
  • Cage-free alternatives to battery cage housing offer much higher welfare for laying hens and are already used successfully in Bhutan and around the world.
  • The European Union has outlawed the use of conventional cages for hens.
  • A growing number of food companies and state governments in India are moving to phase out battery cages.

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Media Contact: Arkaprava Bhar: +91 9830769681 arkaprava.bhar@gmail.com

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.

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